One of the best things about working in restaurants, particularly here on the west coast, is all of the salmon that you get to play with on a regular basis. Fatty, pink, delicate, filled with good-for-you omegas and protein and so incredibly delicious. Tartare, sushi, burgers, or grilled, roasted, and sautéed, I just love all salmon recipes! It rarely needs more than the simplest of accompaniments, so for today, an easy recipe for salmon with a sesame cucumber salad and a swipe of reduced soy sounded just perfect after all of the excess of the holidays. It feels so good to go back to eating healthier food after so many rich and heavy meals!
It’s been really fun over the years learning how to break down (butcher) whole salmon and then cook salmon recipes well. It sounds so easy to just get a nice medium rare with crispy skin. Unfortunately, if you aren’t used to cooking fish it can seem daunting. Once you get used to it, however, it’s really simple! It just takes a little practice. Always remember to get the oil in the pan super hot and make sure to salt your fish and you’ll be a lot closer to success. Both of those simple tricks will help keep your fish from sticking to the pan. Then be sure to turn the heat down right away so that your salmon doesn’t burn. You want to cook your salmon more than halfway on the first side without moving it around. Gently flip it over, and within a minute you’ll have a beautifully cooked fish! If you let it rest for a couple of minutes, it will continue to cook and relax, and you’ll wind up with something that you can be proud to serve! Once you get comfortable, though, salmon can be an easy recipe for a delicious dinner that takes very little work since the flavor of properly cooked salmon is always just perfect as it is.
In the bay area, people are incredibly concerned with the health and sustainability of fish, so that simply becomes an understood part of the conversation, but that isn’t necessarily the case everywhere. If you want more information on the fish you’re eating (or thinking about eating), Monterey Bay has an incredible program that many chefs out here are a part of, which I really recommend checking out! Not all fish are good for you, and not all are being sustainably caught. Being aware of this is a really important, so I just want to take a second to remind you guys of that and give you a resource you can check out. Their seafood watch site tells you, which fish are good/safe to eat, including which choices are best, what good alternatives might be, and which ones to flat-out avoid, fish recommendations from A-Z, and they even have an app you can download that will help you quickly when you’re out shopping or in a restaurant. (I’m not being paid to say anything about them, it’s just really good information to have!)
Back to today’s dish!
Salmon in hand, I decided to look out back the rest of the ingredients that would work perfectly with one of my easy salmon recipes. It’s so amazing to be able to use the produce growing out in the garden for most of the meals around here. It’s a great way not only to stay seasonal, but frugal as well! Out in the garden, I have bright yellow lemons, a few remaining summer chilies, and teeny-tiny baby fennel poking their heads out of the mud in the rain, just begging to wind up in a dish. If you don’t have access to a garden with fennel growing, feel free to grab a bulb from the grocery store. The fronds are the delicate, fern-like tops of the fennel, which are great for garnish. If you only have access to the bulb, that’s totally fine. About 1/4 bulb is more than enough for this cucumber salad. Just thinly slice it with a knife or mandolin, and if you want to get that task done in advance, keep it in cold water with a little lemon juice or a few lemon slices just to be really sure that it doesn’t oxidize, or turn brown. Gentle and slightly anise-flavored, it’s so good in all kinds of salmon recipes!
If you need to toast your sesame seeds, that couldn’t be easier! Start with a dry pan (no oil) and heat it up. Add your seeds and toss or stir frequently until they’re golden. Immediately remove from the heat or they’ll burn!
Easy Salmon Recipes: Bright and Simple Salmon with Sesame Cucumber Salad, Fennel, and Soy
- 1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced with a peeler or on a mandolin
- zest and juice of 1/2 lemon (reserve 1 tsp juice for salmon)
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp gluten-free Tamari or soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp chili oil (optional)
- 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
- Fennel fronds or thinly sliced raw fennel.
- salt, pepper
- 1/2 cup gluten-free Tamari or soy sauce
- 1 Tbs water
- 1 Tbs sugar
- 1 tsp mirin or honey
- 1 Tbs rice wine vinegar
- 1 6-8 oz piece salmon (per person)
- 2 tsp oil
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp gluten-free Tamari or soy sauce
- salt, pepper
- Fennel fronds, olive oil, good quality salt, freshly cracked black pepper, aleppo or espelette powder
- Combine all the ingredients in a small pot. Bring to a simmer and reduce by 3/4, stirring occasionally to keep the bottom and sides from sticking.
- Toss the cucumbers well with 1 tsp salt and let stand for 10-15 minutes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Generously salt the salmon on all sides.
- Heat a sauté pan with the oil until nearly smoking.
- Carefully add the salmon skin side down and immediately reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Cook until the sides begin to become opaque (2-4 minutes).
- Flip the salmon and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the soy sauce and turn off the heat. Let the salmon rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
- Squeeze lemon juice over the salmon.
- Put a spoonful of sauce on the plate and drag your spoon through it to make a line or swoosh. Put the salmon on the sauce and garnish, if you are doing so. Place some salad next to the fish, and enjoy immediately!
Looking for more healthy dinner recipes, fish recipes, or easy salmon recipes? You might want to check out the
*Disclaimer: this post may contain affiliate links!