The Only Way to Sear Salmon
Plus: Angelini Osteria, Pie n' Burger, and Scott Peacock on Lunch Therapy.
The other day I was watching America’s Test Kitchen on the PBS app (we got rid of our cable, which has been totally fine with the help of Hulu Live, which lets me watch Jeopardy and Ina) and either Bridget or Julia, I forget who, demoed a salmon technique that’s a total game changer.
For as long as I’ve been searing salmon, I’ve heated a non-stick skillet, added a splash of olive oil, placed the seasoned filet skin-side down, let it crackle and pop and when it was golden brown, I’d flip it and finish on the flesh side (sometimes in the oven). But in the ATK technique, you scatter kosher salt into a cold skillet. Then you place your seasoned filet (which you’ve patted dry before you’ve seasoned it) on top of the salt, skin-side down.
That’s exactly what it looks like when you start.
Then you crank the heat to medium — not too hot, since you’re trying to cook the fish all the way through without burning the skin — and slowly but surely, fat begins to render from the skin and the flesh grows more and more opaque as the skin crisps up.
The benefit to this technique is that by slowly rendering the fat, it gets the skin even crispier than it would if you just sizzled it in a pan of hot oil. You get a thinner layer of crispy skin too, since so much of the fat goes away.
When it’s golden brown on the skin side (at least three to four minutes, but maybe more), flip it over and finish on the flesh side. My only advice is to make sure your filet isn’t too thick; mine was definitely on the thicker side, so I had to do a delicate dance to make sure it didn’t burn before it reached an internal temp of 125.
This technique was so wildly impressive to me — it was such a gorgeous end result — I don’t think I’ll ever cook salmon any other way again. (Hence the title of this newsletter!)
Why was I cooking such a “healthy” dinner in the first place?
Well, on Thursday I posted a bonus episode of my podcast: “How My Parents Lost 60 Pounds During the Pandemic.”
You’ll probably get a kick out of hearing my parents talk to me over Zoom (they’re characters), but this episode came about because I’m going on a quote/unquote “diet” and my mom was giving me advice. The gist of it is: don’t drink Monday through Friday, eat protein and vegetables every night, and then on the weekend eat what you want.
To hear the rest of my mom’s tips and tricks for losing weight, CLICK HERE.
The irony, of course, is that while they were here, we ate like pigs. Last Monday was the last night of their visit, and we went to Angelini Osteria, where we ate these incredible squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta.
I had a lovely piece of swordfish on top of broccoli rabe with sun-dried tomatoes (a sort-of healthy choice). It was absolutely delicious.
And for dessert, we all shared these profiteroles, which were most excellent. I need to make profiteroles some day for a dinner party.
I ate healthy for most of last week — nothing really worth posting here — and then, when it came time for the weekend, I followed my mom’s advice and let myself eat whatever I wanted.
On Saturday night, I went with my friends Harry n’ Cris to Pie n’ Burger in Pasadena, a place I’d been meaning to go to forever.
The night was bittersweet, because Harry and Cris are moving to Bordeaux next week, so this was sort of our farewell dinner. (Craig was in Iowa at a family reunion!)
We tried not to dwell too much on the sadness of them moving thousands of miles away and, instead, focused on the absolute pleasure that was the Pie n’ Burger burger.
Holy crap, what an amazing burger. I said this on Instagram, and I’ll say it again here: I think this is my platonic ideal of a hamburger and maybe one of the best I’ve ever had. The bun was toasted (probably with butter), the patty was flat and beautifully charred, the iceberg gave height and crunch, and the sauce was just goopy enough. Harry suggested grilled onions, which were lovely along with the pickles. I give this burger a 10/10.
And the pie! I picked boysenberry with vanilla ice cream and the waitress put so much on, it looked like an asteroid hit it.
But man oh man, was that a good boysenberry pie. (Funny memory: I once went to Knott’s Berry Farm with my family when I was eleven and they pushed me into a Boysenberry pie eating contest where there was silverware on the table only they took the silverware away and we had to eat the pie with our faces. I was traumatized. But not enough to not love this pie.)
So, clearly, we’re about to become regulars at Pie n’ Burger. Look for me and Craig there next time you go… we’ll be thinking of you guys, Harry and Cris.
Now: about this week’s podcast. Forgive me if I gush…
One of my all-time favorite restaurant memories is going to Watershed in Atlanta on a date back when I was in law school. (You can read the post about it here.) The restaurant, which was co-owned by Emily Saliers of The Indigo Girls, featured the cooking of Scott Peacock, one of the South’s most celebrated chefs, a multiple James Beard award-winner, whose roommate was none other than the legendary, iconic, trailblazing chef, Edna Lewis.
Edna Lewis was the first Black chef to have a cookbook that reached a national audience. (The Taste of Country Cooking, an essential cookbook for any cookbook library.) Her work is so important, she’s actually on a postage stamp.
Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock were good friends — she spent the last seven years of her life living with him — and Ms. Lewis, as Scott calls her, completely changed his life by helping him embrace his Southernness.
Scott talks all about their relationship in today’s episode of Lunch Therapy. I think it’s the episode I’m proudest of after two years of doing the show.
CLICK HERE to listen and, if you enjoy it, please leave a nice review on Apple podcasts. It makes a big difference!
Now for the links that caught my attention this week:
Dorie Greenspan talks about recipe testing in her latest newsletter (XOXO Dorie);
I want all of Steak Diane’s products (Eater);
Noma is once again named the world’s best restaurant and, between you and me, I’m not really dying to eat there (Eater);
For my cheat next weekend, I’m making Deb’s apple crumb cake — it looks amazing (Smitten Kitchen).
That’s all for this week folks!
In case you missed it, my paid subscribers-only newsletter on Thursday was called “On Not Drinking.” It was all about giving up alcohol for my diet but, also, possibly giving it up in general, which many of my friends have done. If you’d like to read that, along with my access to my whole newsletter archives, here’s a special deal for 20% forever:
Until next time….
Hi Adam, I tried the salmon technique last night and, sadly, it absolutely didn't work for me. The skin stuck to the non-stick pan and the flesh overcooked while we were waiting for the skin to try and crisp. It didn't appear that the salmon fat liquified to the extent that yours did. Maybe we had leaner salmon? The temperature was low and slow but not much rendered. Any thoughts?
Any reason why you removed the option to pin these subscription recipes?