Friday, January 29, 2010

Sear-Roasted Salmon with Lemon and Onions

This recipe—developed by my wife, Julia—minimizes the fishiness associated with some farmed salmon. Like many great inventions, it was born of a mishap (vulcanized rubber also comes to mind). One day, Julia pan-seared a salmon filet, only to discover after she had wiped the skillet clean that the fish wasn’t cooked enough. Because the oven was already on, she put the fish back in the skillet and roasted it for a few more minutes. The result was a dish with a noticeably cleaner taste.

(serves two adults and two children)

1½ lb salmon filet
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 large lemon
1 large onion
olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Wash and dry the salmon. Sprinkle the flesh side with salt and pepper.

3. Wash the lemon and slice it thinly, discarding the pulpless ends. Peel the onion and slice it into rings (or half-rings) that are approximately the same thickness as the lemon slices.

4. Lightly coat a large nonstick ovenproof skillet with olive oil and heat it over a high flame until very hot. Place the salmon in the skillet flesh-side down and sear for 3 minutes.

5. Remove the salmon to a plate lined with paper towels. Meanwhile, use another paper towel to wipe the rendered fat from the skillet. Add a little more olive oil, about a tablespoon. Return the skillet to the high flame.

6. Add the onion slices and sauté for a minute or two, until they begin to wilt. Add the lemon slices and continue to sauté for another minute.

7. Pushing the lemon and onion slices to the side, return the salmon to the skillet, skin—side down. Transfer the skillet to the oven.

8. Roast until the salmon is done and the lemon and onion slices have caramelized, about 10-15 minutes. Serve the salmon topped with the lemon and onion slices.

• Sweet onions, such as Vidalias, work especially well in this dish.

• Eat the lemon slices, rind and all; they’re fabulous.

• If your salmon filet is on the thin side, it may finish roasting before the lemon and onion slices are properly caramelized. If so, remove the salmon to a bed of paper towels while the onion and lemon slices finish in the oven.

• To promote even caramelization, I shake the skillet once or twice during the roasting.

• Remember that the skillet handle will be very hot after 15 minutes in the oven. Use two mitts to remove it from the oven and leave one mitt on the handle in case you reach for the skillet without thinking.

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