You’re telling me you want a dinner that can be prepared in under 30 minutes. You want this dinner to be low-fat and heart-healthy. If feasible, you’d like this fantasy dinner to be every bit as delicious as something that would be presented to you in one of our best restaurants. No problem. if you have one little culinary trick up your sleeve, I can grant you these three wishes.
The secret is perfecting the sear. Pan-searing is one of the easiest ways to prepare salmon, sea scallops or any meaty fish. Just heat up the pan, add the fish and in a matter of minutes the fillets have a crisp, golden crust. There are a few simple keys to searing success that I will disclose.
The hardest thing about this recipe is leaving it alone. We’re used to watching Food Network chefs perform their theatrics, shaking the pan and flipping the food. It may look cool but it’s totally uncool. The fish needs quiet time to develop that golden brown crust. You know the salmon is properly seared when it is not sticking to the pan. You can check this by gently lifting a corner of the salmon, after 3 minutes.
Perfectly pan-seared salmon also depends on a very hot pan. Use a heavy cast-iron skillet, if available, or heavy-bottomed sauté pan which heats evenly. Warm the pan before you add the oil; this restaurant trick allows the pan to get really hot without burning the oil. A preheated pan also requires less oil. When searing I always use an oil with a high-smoke point, such as grape seed oil or refined canola oil. Smoke point refers to the temperature when the oil begins to break down.
If working in batches, preheat your oven to 200˚ degrees to keep the cooked salmon warm as your finish searing. You may find it necessary to add a bit more grape seed oil to the pan between batches.
My palate never tires of fresh fish, when it is golden brown on the outside and juicy on the inside. When I made the balsamic glaze for the salmon, I made a little extra which I tossed with instant whole wheat couscous and simple blanched asparagus. The salmon should be seared at the last minute, but you can begin the couscous and asparagus while assembling your balsamic dressing.