Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Pan-Seared Salmon with Lemon Butter Asparagus

Salmon is always a big hit in my house (as evidenced by last week's Roasted Salmon with Lemon & Dill). It's our go-to for fish. Growing up, I never got a chance to wander out of the confines of tuna fish sandwiches for lunch, and white fish like cod for dinner (we ate it baked, fried, topped with crumbs, or turned into fish nuggets). But salmon... This beautiful fish has to be treated with a bit more refinement. Less is more in many cases!

Pan Seared Salmon with Lemon-Butter Asparagus is a perfect application for this beautifully moist fish. A generous portion of wild caught salmon fillet is seared to perfection in a piping hot pan, cooked through in the oven, and then paired with delicate sauteed asparagus. A bright and light spring meal, perfect for a quick weeknight or lazy weekend supper.

Cod, I still love you, but salmon, you've stolen my heart!

Pan-Seared Salmon with Lemon Butter Asparagus
Makes 4-6 servings

2 lb. salmon filet (center cut)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
salt & pepper
lemon wedges if desired

Preheat oven to 350F.  Slice salmon filet into roughly equally sized portions across the shorter axis of the fish  (making 4-6 identical portions). Center cut is ideal for this kind of cooking, since the thickness will be similar all the way through the portion, making for even doneness throughout.

Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to a medium non-stick skillet and set heat to high. At the same time, lightly oil the surface of the salmon with the other tablespoon of vegetable oil (top and bottom). Salt and pepper the flesh side of the fish (if you plan to eat the crispy skin, salt the skin side as well).

Check your pan by holding the palm of your hand a few inches above it. When the air above the pan is *extremely* hot, you are ready to sear.

Place the salmon skin-side down into the oiled pan. You will hear the sizzling sound of the skin crisping up, and start to see the lighter pink 'cooked' salmon color start to rise up through the fish from the bottom over 3-4 minutes (depending on the power of your cooktop). Once the salmon is pink about halfway through, it is time to flip.

Tongs are easiest for this. Grab the fish and turn it over, letting it sear the flesh side for 2-3 minutes. You can check (using the tongs) each minute or so for the 'color' of sear you prefer to see on the top of your fish.

Once your desired sear is achieved, you still need to cook the fish through (the inside will not be ready if you were to cut it open at this point). Transfer the seared fish onto an oven safe tray (if your pan can go in the oven, you can also just stick it right in there) and bake to your preferred doneness (usually about 8-10 minutes.

Garnish with lemon wedges if desired.

Enjoy; I always do!

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