While many Jews believe that the 11th commandment is “Thou shalt not cook on Sunday,” my 11th commandment is eight minutes per inch. Whether frying, sauteeing, baking, steaming, or poaching, the thickness of the fish determines the time. One inch thick cooks for eight minutes, tops; i.e., two minutes in t
he pan, then six in the oven.
The salmon should be cooked just barely through. It will finish cooking in its own heat and will then be moist and flavorful. Please do not dry it out.
This salmon can be prepared without salt if using balsamic vinegar instead of soy sauce. No added fat is necessary for either preparation. Each method produces a glazed salmon. One is very Asian in flavor: sweet, salty, and soy. The other has no salt, or less salt, and a sweet balsamic vinegar glaze.
Salmon, (size of your choosing)
Fillet – fresh, never frozen, all skin removed
Ground black pepper
Reduced sodium, or low sodium soy sauce, or a high quality balsamic vinegar
Soy Sauce Glaze:
Off we go. Rinse and pat dry the salmon fillet. Heat a thick-bottomed, heavy skillet or cast-iron pan. Coat salmon with sugar and place into hot pan. Sear for a minute or so. Sprinkle top with black pepper. Pour a couple of ounces of soy sauce into the pan — the amount depends upon the size of the fish.
Lower the heat. The soy sauce should create a sweet and salty glaze on the salmon. Slide the salmon onto a parchment paper lined baking dish or foil pan and place into oven.
Bake at 325 F for approximately five minutes, depending upon the thickness of the fillet.
If you like, you can flip the salmon fillet in the pan, cover the pan, and turn off the heat. Another variation is to remove the pan from the stove, shut off the burner, cover the pan, and let sit until properly done.
Rinse and pat salmon dry. Coat with sugar and place into a hot, thick-bottomed pan on medium-high heat. Sprinkle with black pepper and salt if you like. The salt can be omitted for those on restricted diets. After a minute or two, slide the salmon onto a parchment-lined, oven-safe dish, Pyrex, or foil pan, and place into a 325 F oven for the proper time for the thickness. For example, for a one inch thick salmon, cook six minutes (eight minutes minus two in the pan) maximum.
The perfect side dish is crisp-thin fries. Add broccoli or spinach sauteed in garlic and olive oil.
Slice a few garlic cloves and blanch the broccoli. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan on medium heat, add garlic, lower the flame, sweat the garlic (sweat instructions to follow). Place broccoli into pan, raise heat to medium/high. Toss in garlic infused oil until tender. Again, be careful not to burn it.
The spinach can be cooked at the same as the broccoli.
Each fish preparation might yield some sauce to spoon over the salmon. If not, I recommend no added sauce. The fish should be moist if properly cooked.
Blanching: Place spinach or any vegetable in boiling water for one minute. Remove, shock in ice or ice water to halt cooking, then drain.
Sweating: Garlic and onions should be placed into warm oil and then sauteed, tossed or stirred until golden, translucent and soft (not browned).
Salmon is high in Omega-3 fatty oil, and linked to positive cardiovascular health. Salmon should be steamed, baked, smoked or sauteed. Olive oil is best for cooking salmon, if necessary, because the other unsaturated, heart healthy oils are loaded with Omega-6.
By Gary Schuman
Columnist Gary Schuman is a former New York City restaurateur, New York Times restaurant reviewer and State of Florida-certified cooking instructor.