I’ve told you about my love affair with this little fishy, haven’t I? It sends me into a frenzy, the mere thought of it gives me goose bumps. I do a happy schammy dance. The dance looks suspiciously like the Bill Cosby’s no-movement dance. It makes me smile. It makes me feel clean. Salmon. Joy!
When I was putting together the menu for the Foodbuzz 24, 24,24 meal I, OF COURSE, found a way to add salmon to it. It represented the Pacific Northwest, and BOY, did it do that region proud!
I think salmon is perfect just the way it comes out of the water, so I don’t tend to dress it up too much. For this recipe, I allowed the fillets to marinate in some basic seasonings, then seared and served it with a beer sauce. While searching for ideas to prepare it, I found a clever little recipe for ‘Beer Blanc‘. I loved the play on words/concept (beurre blanc is a traditional French butter sauce). And since I often throw in beer into my sauces, it was off to the skillet. *I went with a Samuel Adams Irish Red.
Pan Seared Salmon with Beer Blanc Sauce
4 salmon fillets (approx 4 ozs each)
2 tsps sea salt
1 tsp black pepper, ground
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsps extra virgin olive oil
For the sauce (about 1 cp)
1/4 cp shallots, thinly sliced
8 oz red ale beer*
2 tbsp Malt vinegar
1 tbsp thyme leaves, fresh are best
2 tbsp butter, cut into pieces
Mix the salt, pepper, garlic and 1 tsp of olive oil in a shallow container, preferably glass. Work these ingredients into a paste and rub it on the salmon fillets. Set aside for 15-30 minutes.
Note about cooking the salmon: Do you like sushi? If you do, then allow me to suggest you cook salmon to medium. IMHO, the best way to enjoy this fish is just underdone. Salmon is naturally creamy, almost buttery, and this quality really comes through when you show some restraint when cooking it. I cannot tell you how often I’ve seen this cruelly overcooked to a dry, powdery, overly oily, and strong tasting mess. Please don’t do that salmon. It really deserves better.
Heat a nonstick skillet until it smokes, add the other teaspoon of oil and swirl it around to coat the bottom of the skillet. Carefully place the fillets on the skillet, skin-side down first. Sear the skin for 1-2 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillet. The ones I had were about 1-1/2 inches thick. You can look at the fillets from the side, the portion closest to the heat will begin to turn opaque. This is a good time to flip them onto the other side. Sear for another 1-2 minutes before removing from the skillet and allowing them hang out on a warm plate.
Once you’ve seared all the fillets, remove some of the oil rendered–you only need about 1 tbsp left in the skillet. Reduce the temperature to medium, add the shallots and cook until tender, about 4 minutes.
Deglaze the skillet with the beer, lower temperature to medium low and simmer until 3/4 of the liquid has evaporated. At this point add the vinegar and thyme and reduce the remainder of the liquid by another half.
Reduce the temperature to low and add the butter pieces separately until incorporated. Check the seasoning and adjust as necessary. Simply spoon the sauce over the fillets before serving.
These fillets were accompanied with Melted Leeks, a beautiful combo!