Here’s a relatively simple salmon dish that will bring out your inner kitchen goddess/god. Five ingredients, twenty-five minutes, loads of flavor! What’s more decadent than a piece of just-cooked-through fish in contrast with the perfectly robust crunch of crisp skin? Add the lovely spicy-sweetness of the apricot-Sambal glaze and boom! You’re a deity! Well, at least in your kitchen, to your fervent devotees. I mean…. guests! It’s hard not to get a big head with a meal this spectacular!
The crisp skin takes a little practice. It’s one of those techniques where less is more – the less you mess with it, the better. Flip it over and over, move it around mercilessly, poke and prod at it and you’ll end up with a mess of broken fish with soggy underdone skin. Put it in a screaming hot pan, and let it be, let it be, let it beeeeee, oh let it be – and flip it once, and you’re in business. Once you master it, you’ll be able to make crispy skin fish a million ways. Let me know how you do with it, okay?
1.5 lbs salmon filet cut into 4 portions
1 teaspoon apricot jam
1 teaspoon Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen Hot Chilli Sambal
1/2 teaspoon salt
Corn oil (or other neutral oil)
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Wash salmon, dry well with a paper towel and place uncovered in refrigerator for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, warm the apricot jam in the microwave for 20 seconds.Add Sambal and stir to combine. With a sharp knife, make two small cuts in each filet. Rub salt onto all sides of the fish.
2. Heat a heavy-bottomed, over-proof pan over a medium-high flame. Get it really hot.
Add enough oil to coat the bottom evenly. Let the oil come up to temperature.
Just when it begins to smoke, add the fish skin side down.
3. Now here’s the tricky part. Let it be. Do nothing. Oh well okay, if you must do something, do this – with a flexible spatula, press down on each piece for a few seconds to make sure the whole surface of the skin is in contact with the pan. Once you’ve done that, again, step back and let it do its thing. Get your glaze and a pastry brush ready to go because you’re going to have to move very quickly for the next step.
4. When you can see a nice deep brown color on the edge of the skin, gently flip each piece over. I use this spatula and a pair of tongs to baby the filets over so as not to break them. I wish I had a picture of this maneuver, however it was difficult enough to take the previous picture with the spatula in one hand and my iPhone in the other. Imagine this – with my left hand, I slide the spatula ever-so-gently under the cooked skin and make sure
nothing’s stuck to the pan, then with my right hand I gingerly pick up the filet with flat tongs and quickly turn it over. Leaving no hands for a picture. Turn off the stove.
5. Using a pastry brush, quickly coat the top and sides of the fish
with the glaze. Be generous with it. Then place the pan in the oven for 3 minutes to cook the fish through and warm the glaze on the skin. Remove from oven.
Serve with hot rice and some bright greens or a salad. Then sit back and bask in the adulation. Okay, okay – I’ll stop with my goddess-complex now 🙂
Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen Hot Chilli Sambal is available here. As well as at:
And coming in early November to The Fresh Market, Woodbury, Long Island.