From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I made this salmon for the Silver Fox on Saturday evening. He made a request for "adult" food, and after a week of eating dishes selected to please others, he was entitled to at least one special request. This lovely dish popped into my mind. The recipe for it comes from Cook's Illustrated, and their recipes, like those of Ina Garten, are flawless. They may not always agree with your palate, but in execution they are flawless. These fillets are loaded with flavor that comes from a paste of tahini, lemon, and ginger, while a crust of sesame seeds adds some texture to an otherwise soft protein. This recipe brines both the fish and the sesame seeds to assure each piece of fish is seasoned and remains moist after cooking. This is an altogether lovely entree and it is one that I should make more often than I do. I am including the photo that first appeared with the Cook's Illustrated recipe. My own picture, which is also featured, does not capture the appeal of these fillets and I wanted you to see them at their best. Do try this recipe if you enjoy salmon. I was unable to find thick salmon fillets, so I had to use the related stealhead fillets in their place, but the mildly Asian paste overcame any difference that might exist between the two fish. Here is how the sesame coated salmon is made.
Sesame Crusted Salmon with Lemon and Ginger...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Cook's Illustrated
6 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 (6 to 8-oz) skinless salmon fillets
1 scallion, white part minced, green part sliced thin
1-1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest + 1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons tahini
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1) Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees F. Dissolve 2-1/2 tablespoons salt in 1 quart water. Transfer 1/2 cup brine to bowl, stir in sesame seeds, and let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Submerge fillets in remaining brine and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
2) Drain seeds and place in 10-inch nonstick skillet. Cook seeds over medium heat, stirring constantly, until golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer seeds to pie plate and wipe out skillet with paper towels. Remove fillets from brine and pat dry.
3) Place scallion white and lemon zest on cutting board and chop until white and zest are finely minced and well combined. Transfer scallion-zest mixture to bowl and stir in lemon juice, tahini, ginger, cayenne, and pinch salt.
4) Evenly distribute half of paste over bottoms (skinned sides) of fillets. Press coated sides of fillets in seeds and transfer, seed side down, to plate. Evenly distribute remaining paste over tops of fillets and coat with remaining seeds.
5) Heat oil in now-empty skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Place fillets in skillet, skinned side up, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until seeds begin to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using 2 spatulas, carefully flip fillets over. Transfer skillet to oven. Bake until center of fish is translucent when checked with tip of paring knife and registers 125 degrees F, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to serving platter and let rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with scallion green and serve. Yield: 2 servings.
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