Pan-seared salmon with Asian slaw

by Emily Kemme
Salmon with Asian Slaw

Pan-seared salmon is good any time of the year, but when paired with this ridiculously simple Asian slaw of shredded Napa cabbage it just says, “Yay, Spring!” Bring all the good flavors together: tender, succulent fish. A crunch of slaw lightly dressed with a preparation of safflower, sesame, and toasted sesame oils. Add a dash of soy sauce to taste and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. It feels like you’re cooking, but not really.

Look for salmon in the seafood case that is pale pink with firm flesh and not a lot of fatty streaks. Ask your butcher to cut a large fillet into 8 ounce sections, cutting from the middle rather than the thinner tail segment. The reason is two-fold: it allows for equal cooking in the skillet and the presentation is very pretty. It’s a bit of form, a bit of function.

Welcome pedicures, sandals, and flirty dresses. Winter is so over.

Pan-seared salmon with Asian slaw

  • 2 – 8 ounce salmon fillets with skin
  • 3 tbsp safflower oil
  • 1/2 head of one Napa cabbage, shredded
  • 2 green onions, trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

To pan-sear salmon:

While preparing the slaw, place salmon fillets on a rack on top of a baking sheet to allow air to pass on both sides. This dries the skin for better crisping. Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper.

Heat a heavy sauté pan over high heat.

Note: I know cast iron skillets are all the rage, but not for fish. The oil from the salmon is hard to eliminate and will “flavor” everything else you cook in it for some time.

Add safflower oil and heat until it shimmers. Place fillets in pan flesh side down and sear for one minute, or until fish easily releases from pan and is beginning to have some brown coloration.

Using a thin spatula, gently flip fillets to sear the skin. Lower heat to medium and crisp skin for about 3 minutes, pressing down on fish occasionally to prevent curling. Test for doneness by flaking with a fork or by inserting an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the flesh — it should register 145°F for medium. Remove fish from pan and let rest on clean plate for 5 minutes so juices redistribute. If you wish to remove the skin, gently slide a thin spatula between skin and flesh and work your way across the fillet.

To make Asian slaw

Mix vinegar, sesame oils, and soy sauce in large bowl until emulsified. Toss cabbage with dressing.

Toss cabbage with mixture of dressing.

Serve salmon on top of slaw. Sprinkle with sesame seeds to garnish and add a bit of nutty flavor.

Serves 2.

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