Pan roasted salmon has a natural crust that really brings out the flavor in the fish. Ponzu is a soy, vinegar, citrus combination that works well as a finishing sauce which perfectly compliments salmon. This is combined with healthy asparagus and Japanese Haiga brown rice for a meal that you can feel great about.
Pan Roasted Salmon
I like salmon a lot, but I probably don’t eat as much as I should. Working in fine dining spoiled me as I really developed a taste for quality salmon like Loch Duarte from Scotland and Copper River from Washington. Today there are so many more impressive options to source really good salmon.Jules
Where to buy good salmon?
This may sound weird, but where I used to live the best salmon was usually at Costco. At certain times of the year they have wild King, Sockeye and Coho. Props to them, even their Atlantic farm raised salmon always looks fresh. There always seems to be excitement when they have Alaskan King Crab legs available. I’m a fan of Whole Foods in so many ways, but their seafood department is disappointing and overpriced. I rarely buy fish or seafood from regular grocery stores. I sound like a snob which I really am not. I’m just picky about seafood. If it isn’t going to be good as it can be, then why eat it.
You’ve heard people complain about a “fishy” taste. Well, in most cases it is fish so it tastes like fish. The fishy taste is in reference to the strong smell that accompanies the flavor of fish that has started too spoil. All raw fish is organic and technically it is decomposing from the moment it dies. Places that sell seafood, but don’t specialize in it, lack quality in a big way. I can’t blame them because after all seafood can be pricey. For those of us that want great restaurant quality seafood, it can be frustrating searching through different markets to find good quality fish.
So, for this Pan Roasted Salmon recipe I ended up purchasing salmon from a local Japanese market. It looked pretty good, but we needed to see how it tastes. See updates on where to buy quality salmon at the end of this post.
For more information on salmon visit my salmon teriyaki blog.
What is Ponzu?
For this Pan Roasted Salmon recipe I went fairly simple, but the end result was delicious and paired well with rice! One of my favorite combinations is grilled salmon with a ponzu dipping sauce. Ponzu is a sauce used in Japanese kitchens and sushi bars. It is pretty well known these days. But, if you are not familiar, it is a citrusy soy based sauce usually served cold. The sauce is infused with citrus, vinegar and often times bonito (fish) stock. There are many different recipes and the citrus component can range between yuzu, lemon, orange and sudachi lime. It goes really well with fish and can be used as a dipping sauce for steak. I added mirin and ginger to this because sometimes soy and citrus can very one dimensional. You can check out my regular ponzu sauce recipe in an upcoming post.
I promised this for awhile. Our Ponzu Sauce recipe is now available. Yay!
On to the recipe…
PAN ROASTING THE *SALMON
Salmon can handle a little more seasoning than other proteins. Season salmon portions on all sides with salt and pepper and let sit for 10 minutes.
Normally I cook two portions at a time. Heat 1-1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in pan over medium high heat. Once the pan is hot, place each portion in the pan skin side up. The side that you normally see when you buy salmon faces down first into the pan. For a nice deep caramelization, cook for 5 minutes. For even cooking, sometimes it helps to rotate the fish around the pan because your stovetop may have different hot spots.
*Tasting Notes: If you overcrowd the pan with proteins like fish and chicken, the moisture that escapes creates a steaming effect instead of pan roasting or searing properly.
NEXT, flip the salmon over, being careful not to splash the hot oil.
Depending on how you like your salmon cooked, see below for cooking times. I like to eat it between a mid-rare and medium where the center is still soft and tender. This is the amount of time I finish the cooking on the opposite side.
SAMPLE COOKING TIMES
Mid-rare 1 minute
Medium 2 minutes
Well done 4 minutes
For the next 2 portions add 1-1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil if needed. After the salmon is cooked remove and let it rest on the side for plating. Place it on a paper towel to catch the grease. The ponzu vinaigrette in this recipe is done à la minute in the pan.
*Cooking Tips: I did some reading on cooking oils. Keeping oil for every single purpose can become expensive. When I sauté, I cut my extra virgin olive oil with about 40% vegetable or canola oil. See our post on cooking oils.
Why do we caramelize our fish?
Honestly, this is one of the best ways to eat pan roasted salmon. You’ve heard of the Maillard reaction? In a nutshell this is when the natural sugars in protein (or vegetables) react with amino acids during the browning process creating flavor. The textural difference is also something nice to achieve rather than having uniformly mushy fish.
*CrossEat Tip: You can leave the skin for the pan roasted salmon as long as the scales are removed it is perfectly edible and nutritious. Cook skin side down in the pan till it is very browned and crisp. If you prefer skinless, save the skin for your dog’s meal. I will usually crisp up (unseasoned) salmon skin in the toaster oven and add to her dinner.
MAKING THE *PONZU SAUCE
If there is a lot of black residue, wipe out the pan. Keep the pan on the stovetop over a medium high heat. Only add more oil if you need it. You can add 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil if most of the oil is gone.
Start by browning the shallots. Next, add ginger and sauté for 20 seconds.
Add the mirin and bring to a boil. the pan should be hot enough that the cooking wine sizzles and comes to a boil fairly immediately. Once it is boiling, cook for 30 seconds to evaporate the alcohol.
Add the orange supremes (orange segments), orange juice and yuzu juice. Bring back to a boil and cook for 30 seconds. As you are cooking the sauce should be thickening as it is quickly reducing.
Pour in the vinegar and bring back to a boil. Add soy sauce and cook for 30 seconds.
Add the diced pecans, stir and remove from heat. You can do this without the pecans, but I thought it would be a nice touch adding texture and nutty taste to the dish.
*CrossEat Tip: If you need to wipe out the pan with a paper towel, this is compostable.
*CrossEat Tip: Nuts have a tendency to get stale and/or rancid if not stored properly. They are not cheap. For most recipes, you only need a small amount. To preserve the longevity of your nuts, store in your freezer or use them in our Baby Arugula Salad with Avocados, Pecans & Goat Cheese
PLATING THE PAN SEARED SALMON
Place salmon portions on individual plates.
Add rice and cooked asparagus.
Spoon sauce over and around salmon and serve with lemon wedges on the side.
For this particular meal I peeled, steamed then ice bathed fresh asparagus. I was leaning towards healthy this week so I cooked brown rice in the rice cooker. The brand I used was Tamaki Haiga, which is a premium short grain California Koshihikari variety. The post on rice is coming soon…hopefully!
Serve immediately and enjoy! Thank you for taking the time to read our Pan Seared Salmon recipe.
**Tasting Notes: Again this is not a classic ponzu, but a re-imagined version of it. See our upcoming ponzu recipe for something closer to what you would see in a Japanese restaurant. Update: I have promised it for awhile, so here it is…
RELATED RECIPE: Original Ponzu Sauce Recipe
MORE SALMON RECIPES
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ONLINE OPTIONS FOR QUALITY SALMON SUSTAINABLY RAISED
We are always in the search for quality seafood that we can prepare at home. If you are looking to purchase or just find more information click on the links below. These are all very good products that we support. There is a good variety of salmon options from wild caught to sustainable aquaculture programs. High in omega-3 fatty acids and proven to be heart healthy means that we should all eat more salmon.
- PrimeWaters Norwegian Atlantic Salmon
- New Zealand Ora King Salmon
- WILD Copper River Coho Salmon
- WILD Copper River Sockeye Salmon
- Icelandic Arctic Char