At the recent Detroit Free Press Wine & Food Experience presented by Bedrock, local chefs James Rigato and Doug Hewitt provided a cooking demo on fish butchery and cooking.
Questions were raised about how to choose fish and, of course, the merits of wild and farm-raised fish. We won’t get into the debate, but Rigato said it’s good to ask questions about where the fish you buy comes from. He mentioned that a lot of shrimp is farm-raised.
Another part of the demonstration involved cooking fish with skin and addressing whether the skin is edible. With some fish, such as perch, you barely notice you’re eating the skin. With other varieties, such as salmon, the skin is tasty when it’s cooked crisp. It’s all a matter of choice.
The fish tips provided by Rigato and Hewitt got me thinking about salmon and led me to today’s recipe for broiled salmon served with a spinach pesto. This recipe, if you pair it with the broiled mini peppers, becomes a sheet-pan supper. Cooking your main dish and a side to go along with it on one sheet pan continues to be trendy. It also saves time.
With this recipe, you can use fresh or frozen wild salmon fillets or the farm-raised variety. One brand of farm-raised salmon that my local Kroger sells is Black Pearl Scottish salmon from the Shetland Islands and northern Scotland. It’s a little pricier than, say, farm-raised salmon from Chile, but I’ve had good luck with it.
When cooking salmon, one of the biggest mistakes people make is overcooking. I cringe when I see recipes that call for cooking salmon until the flesh flakes easily. That, to me, is way overcooked.
I like salmon cooked about medium. Using a thermometer, that’s about 130-135 degrees after letting it rest a few minutes before serving.
I also like to brine salmon, which helps ensure it stays moist during cooking. Take a fillet of about 1 1/4 pounds and cut into four equal pieces. Place in a bowl and add enough water to cover. Sprinkle in 1/4 cup each of kosher salt and sugar. Refrigerate 1-2 hours.
When ready to cook, remove the salmon pieces from the brine, discarding the brine. Rinse the salmon pieces under cold water and pat dry.
With today’s recipe, I mixed some Dijon with olive oil to brush on the salmon before cooking to give it a tangy flavor. I also seasoned it generously with salt and little black pepper. Fish needs salt, so don’t be afraid to use it. The salt helps bring out its flavor. To round out the meal, you can serve the salmon with a salad and your favorite steamed vegetables.
Broiled Salmon And Baby Peppers With Spinach Pesto
Yield: Serves 4
Prep time: 30 minutes / Total time: 45 minutes
This recipe works well with any firm-fleshed fish.
Adapted from mymagazine.us.
4 salmon fillets (about 5 ounces each) with skin on
6 cups water
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil mixed with 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper, for seasoning
4 cups fresh baby spinach
2 tablespoons toasted walnuts or pine nuts
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
12 to 15 mini bell peppers
Salt and pepper to taste
Rinse the salmon pieces well and place in a bowl. Cover with water and sprinkle with the salt and sugar, swishing them around in the water to dissolve. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours.
Meanwhile, make the pesto.
In a food processor, place the spinach, walnuts or pine nuts and garlic. Pulse to chop. Add olive oil and pulse until the mixture is well combined. Add Parmesan and lemon zest, and pulse to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Remove the salmon from the brine and discard brine. Rinse salmon pieces well under cold water and pat dry. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil and Dijon.
Preheat the broiler. Place salmon on a foil-lined baking sheet. Brush the oil mixture on the salmon and season with salt and pepper. Place the peppers, if using, on the same pan but off to one side. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Broil about 8 minutes 6 inches from the heat element or until salmon is cooked to about 125 degrees and the peppers are blistered. Remove from broiler and let salmon rest before serving. Serve salmon with a good dollop of the pesto, the peppers and steamed vegetables.