Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cast Iron Salmon – Searing Pleasure

There are many things I miss about the professional kitchen; the gambling, the inappropriate humor, the feats of strength – but none as much as the giant commercial exhaust fans. One reason is the salmon recipe you see here. Actually, I shouldn't really call it a recipe, it's salt and salmon, but to do it correctly you have to sear the fish over very high heat to get a nice thin, crispy crust encasing a moist custardy center.

At home this is next to impossible – besides the huge, smoky, splattering mess, you really don't want to be "that neighbor." You know, the one who's place always smells like fried fish and steamed broccoli. This heavy metal backyard solution is as minimalist as it is effective. I love how a couple dozen hot coals under a thick cast iron pan turns simply salted salmon into something a little more remarkable.

Even if you don't get that perfect crust and moist center, at the very least your home won't smell like fish for a week. This is great to use for a seafood course after another protein has already been done on the grill. Just rake up the coals into a pile and get to searing. I served this with a dollop of tarragon aioli, which was fantastic. I hope you give it a try. Enjoy!


16 comments:

Rita said...

that salmon look soooo good!

Kath said...

What a great idea! I recently made pan-seared salmon inside and it was delicious but splattered quite a bit. I have a gas grill, but I suppose I could just heat my cast iron pan in the grill until it's smoking hot.

Jill Drapcho said...

This looks so good, but grilling is new territory for me, but doing a "Little Italy" inspired patio. What kind of grill do you use or recommend for charcoal?

Chef John said...

grills, anything webber, and charcoal ONLY Kingsford.

enjoy!

Steve said...

Chef:

A splatter screen is a wonderful investment that makes it possible to do things like seared salmon inside.

It also helps to have a serious exhaust fan, as you mention. Mine will pull 1050 cubic feet a minute, which isn't quite commercial grade but darned close -- next to my splatter screen, the best investment I ever made in the kitchen.

Sometimes I forget to turn the fan on and get a "cooking alarm" (the hall way smoke detector). I snap the fan on and the detector silences in about five seconds.

Robert Lewis said...

Blackened redfish of the 80's! Paul Prudhomme!! LOL. Being that I lived in Nawlins in the 80's I remember everyone blackening EVERYTHING and smoking out homes!

Matt Joseph said...

One of the challenges I have in cooking for myself is actually enjoying seafood. I've disliked the taste of fish and all seafood for many years, but have recently started to find some recipes that work for me. This looks like it could be another one! Thanks.

Jimmy said...

This looks really delicious. One question - does the salmon need to rest to room temperature before cooking?

Chef John said...

No it should be cold.

ktp said...

Thanks for the great recipe, Doc!
Thought I am alone to insist on smoking' hot skillet 2-3 mins plus 1-2 mins is the best one for Salmon ever...
This is the thing to anchor me at your blog. I did Classic Grandma Kelly's pancakes this morning - marvelous! Being huge fan of Russian pancakes(crepes is closer) this is whole new experience for me. Loved it! Next is Gumbo, no right shrimps here in Moscow though, sorry, Forrest) Thanks a lot, Chief!

ktp said...

Thanks for the great recipe, Doc!
Thought I am alone to insist on smoking' hot skillet 2-3 mins plus 1-2 mins is the best one for Salmon ever...
This is the thing to anchor me at your blog. I did Classic Grandma Kelly's pancakes this morning - marvelous! Being huge fan of Russian pancakes(crepes is closer) this is whole new experience for me. Loved it! Next is Gumbo, no right shrimps here in Moscow though, sorry, Forrest) Thanks a lot, Chief!

1Bigg_ER said...

If you have a weber chimney fire starter you could just place the skillet on it.

Karen said...

Just picked up a wonderful piece of arctic char--would it work cooked this way too?
Thanks!

Shira Blank said...

Hi,

I want to try this recipe but my cast iron pan is coated in acrylic. Will it still work? Thanks!

I love your website!!!

Chef John said...

acrylic? I've never heard if that before. Don't think so.

Tom Mc said...

Chef John - How do you recommend cleaning a cast iron pan? I've bought all of my 4 kids (22, 23, 26, 27) the large size. They love them, but have all asked me the same question. Alton Brown suggests just rubbing clean with salt. That never gets it clean. So, I just scrub the heck out of it in dishwater and then coat it with vegetable oil. Seems to work, but maybe there's a better method? ps. I do salmon and tuna just like your recipe. But, with sashimi grade tuna, I'll lightly coat with canola, then press in black and white sesame seeds. They pop and burst and the oils penetrate the tuna perfectly. Love your videos!! Tom