Salmon Pan Roast with Garlic Shavings and Basil on Fresh Greens

Mette Nielsen
Good old salmon in a white wine sauce gets a major makeover when shaved garlic and torn fresh basil go into the pan. Skip making a side dish by bedding down the salmon on a pile of greens and sugar snaps. The garlic basil pan sauce doubles as a salad dressing. Use this trick with anything from meat to vegetables to tempeh. 

Cook to Cook: The steak cut is easier to handle than the filet, but if filet is the only option, heat extra oil in the pan and slip in the filet skin side down. Cook until the skin is crisp and then loosen the filet with a metal spatula, and turn it to finish cooking on the other side. Of course, you can use this technique with any filet.

Cook and serve immediately.

Greens:
  • 1 5-ounce bag (or 4 handfuls) fresh spring greens or mesclun mix
  • 1/4 pound (or a handful) fresh sugar snap peas, coarse chopped
  • 12 fresh basil leaves, torn into large pieces
Salmon Roast:
  • 4 small wild salmon steaks (cut 1-inch thick, or filets), or other firm-fleshed fish (organic if possible)
  • Good tasting extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 3 large garlic cloves, sliced paper thin
  • 12 fresh basil leaves, torn into large pieces
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • Wedges of fresh lemon
1. Divide the greens among 4 dinner plates. Scatter them with the sugar snap peas and with the first quantity of basil leaves. 

2. Rinse the salmon and pat it dry. Examine the fish for any tiny bones and remove them.

3. Lightly film a slant-sided 12-inch skillet with the oil and heat over medium-high heat. Lightly salt and pepper the fish on both sides. Slip it into the pan. Sear for 1 minute. Turn the fish with a metal spatula, taking care not to break it, and sear for 1 minute on the other side.

4. Sprinkle the garlic and the second quantity of basil leaves around the fish. Turn the heat to medium low, cover the pan, and cook 6 to 7 minutes (turning the steaks midway through cooking), or until the salmon is just firm when pressed (the flesh should be barely opaque near the center).

5. Remove the fish from the pan and keep it warm. Add the wine to the pan, turn the heat to high and stir, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom, and simmer until the pan juices are sizzling and syrupy.

6. Drizzle the hot sauce over the greens and top them with salmon. The final seasoning is done at the table with a squeeze of lemon over the fish and greens.

Variation: Thai Seafood Sauté

Follow the recipe above, eliminating the greens, peas, and basil. Sear your fish of choice in the oil, then remove it from the pan. Stir in the thin-sliced garlic and 1 minced jalapeno.  Sauté them a minute, then blend in a teaspoon of jarred Thai curry paste (red will be the hottest, while green is usually the mildest, but be warned, all Thai curry pastes are hot).  

Swirl in a small can (about 6 ounces or 3/4 cup) of coconut milk. Boil until the sauce is smooth and rich tasting.  

Add a few handfuls of shredded Napa cabbage and 2 tight-packed tablespoons of fresh coriander leaves. Boil for 30 seconds.  

Slip fish back into the pan. Simmer it gently over medium-low heat, until it is just firm when pressed. The sauté is good on its own or over rice noodles.

From The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift, Clarkson Potter, 2008.

Prep time: 
5 minutes
Cook time: 
10 minutes
Total time: 
15 minutes
Yield: 
Serves 4

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