Seafood starts out simple. It cooks fast and typically neither requires nor is improved by elaborate seasoning strategies.
But getting the flavors and texture right does require some thought. Happily, we had a world of options from which to draw inspiration.
For this recipe from our book “COOKish,” which limits recipes to just six ingredients without sacrificing flavor, we turn to Asian pantry staples for bold flavor paired with ease.
Briefly marinating salmon fillets in soy sauce both seasons and helps with browning. The sharp notes of sliced fresh chilies and pickled ginger (the type served with sushi) offset the fattiness of the fish. Snap or snow peas add color and crunch, and also turn this into a one-pan meal.
When shopping, try to choose salmon fillets of the same thickness so they all cook at the same rate. This recipe yields medium-rare salmon (the centers are 115°F to 120°F); if you prefer yours a little more cooked through, after flipping the fillets, leave them in the pan for a minute or two longer.
SEARED SALMON WITH CHILIES, PICKLED GINGER AND SNAP PEAS
Start to finish: 40 minutes (25 minutes active)
Four 6-ounce center-cut salmon fillets (1 to 1¼ inches thick)
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon soy sauce
Ground black pepper
1 tablespoon neutral oil
8 ounces sugar snap peas OR snow peas, trimmed
2 Fresno OR jalapeño chilies, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
½ cup chopped fresh mint OR thinly sliced scallions
¼ cup drained pickled ginger, chopped
In a pie plate, marinate the fillets, skin up, in ¼ cup soy for 15 minutes. Remove the fillets, pat dry and sprinkle with pepper. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Add the salmon skin up, reduce to medium and cook until well browned, about 6 minutes. Flip, cover, reduce to low and cook for 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a platter. Add the peas and chilies to the pan and cook over high, stirring, just until the peas are blistered. Off heat, stir in the mint, ginger and remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce, then pour over the salmon.