It might be a bit premature to announce that “spring has sprung,’ but it is not too early to feel that way when preparing dishes in the kitchen. This time of year, we are all getting sick of long, slow cooking, heating up the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good braised dish, but I like to switch up my heartier meals with something a little lighter … a little something that reminds us that barbeque season is just around the corner.
Crispy pan-seared salmon and lightly pickled vegetables (aka vegetable escabeche) are a great combination for a lighter dinner. This meal would also work on a bed of couscous. Cook an extra piece of salmon and some extra vegetables to enjoy over a salad for lunch the next day.
When you purchase an excellent quality fresh piece of salmon, such as sushi-grade quality from T&J’s in Kitchener, feel free to cook your fish just under well-done so that it is super moist.
Vegetable Escabeche Serves 2 (as main course)
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 3/4 cup wine vinegar (rice wine is best)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/8 cup kosher salt
- 2 tbsp freshly chopped tarragon
- 2 carrots, thinly sliced
- 1 zucchini, thinly sliced
- 1/2 medium red onion
- 1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
In a saucepan, combine garlic, vinegar, sugar, salt and chili flakes. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until sugar is dissolved, about 10 minutes;
Transfer to a large bowl and let cool slightly. Pour over vegetables, cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes or for up to 12 hours.
Season the fillet on both sides with salt and pepper;
- 2 5-oz salmon fillets
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3/4 tbsp grape seed or butter
In a sauté pan, heat the oil over high heat until it just begins to smoke or when the butter begins to foam – a combination of butter and oil works well also;
Place the fillet in the pan: carefully lay the fish, flesh side down, in the pan away from you, and then give the pan a slight shake (this distributes the oil evenly under the fish to ensure its crispiness). Lower heat to medium and cook fish on one side;
When the salmon is crispy and golden brown and about half the estimated cooking time has elapsed (plan on 8-9 minutes total per inch of thickness), turn the fillet over. Cook until the fillet just begins to feel firm to the touch.
To serve this beautiful fresh dish, remove vegetables from the liquid using a slotted spoon and place on platter; it is nice if these vegetables are at room temperature. Place salmon on top and sprinkle the whole lot with some freshly chopped parsley, or even a drizzle of that good extra virgin olive oil you’ve been saving.
Chefs Kirstie Herbstreit and Jody O’Malley are both Red Seal certified chefs. Together they run the company YouCanCook2, specializing in interactive dinner parties. You can also find them cooking at Entertaining Elements in St. Jacobs, where they hold private dinners for eight people. To contact the chefs, visit their website www.youcancook2.com.