Salmon fishing usually doesn’t come to my mind in high summer.
Perhaps it’s because I spent my formative fishing years in bays and estuaries during the actual seasons that lend their names to Oregon’s chinook runs. So it was something of a surprise when a friend offered up salmon just plucked from the Umpqua River for grilling a couple of weeks ago.
With fish this fresh, I tend to be a purist. Just a little salt, pepper and butter or oil are all I need to appreciate salmon’s distinctive flavor.
My husband tends to lean toward marinades and sauces of any and all varieties and invariably asks me what we should put on the fish. Judging from his reaction, my answer must lack inspiration.
So we tend to fall back on that tried-and-true combination of soy sauce and honey, one that gives my dad’s smoked salmon its savor and sweetness. Garlic and ginger also are no-brainers. Bringing still more flavor, along with texture, to the fish is this recipe’s crust of sesame seeds that I also would try on scallops and calamari steaks.
4 tablespoons unhulled sesame seeds
4 skin-on salmon fillets (4 to 6 ounces each)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 medium garlic clove, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon peeled and finely grated, fresh ginger
1 pound baby bok choy, rinsed and quartered lengthwise
1/2 Holland or cayenne whole chili, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 200 F. Place the sesame seeds on baking sheet. Season the salmon with the salt and pepper and press both sides into sesame seeds to coat evenly.
In a large cast-iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Place salmon skin side down and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Turn fish over and cook for 3 to 5 minutes more. Remove from heat; transfer salmon to plates and keep warm in oven. Wipe skillet clean.
In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, lime juice and honey. Set aside. Heat the garlic and ginger in remaining oil in skillet. Add the bok choy and chili, if using, and toss to coat. Add 1 tablespoon soy-sauce mixture and cover pan with lid. Steam until tender, for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
Pour remaining soy mixture into skillet. Increase heat and boil until slightly reduced, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve salmon and bok choy with sauce.
Makes 4 servings.
— Recipe from Organic Life magazine, courtesy of Tribune News Service