By Alaina Sullivan
This unique salmon preparation involves a cut of fish that falls somewhere between razor-thin smoked salmon and a robust wild Alaskan filet. I rarely think to slice fresh salmon filets horizontally, but one of the beauties of preparing it this way is the speed of its execution – it can go from pan to plate to palate in a matter of minutes. (Shorter if you skip step two like me). The most time-consuming part was removing the tiny bones from my fresh Coho, but speed bump aside, a swift slice down the middle, a generous seasoning and the fish is ready to go. The cooking, as the name suggests, is over in a flash: a brief touchdown in the hot skillet and the salmon slivers are cooked to perfection with a rosy hint of rareness in the middle.
Though robed in curry powder and delicious on its own, pairing the salmon with a creamy chickpea raita rounds out its Middle Eastern flavors. I rarely pass up an opportunity to use yogurt as a condiment – I love that its subtle tang adapts to sweet or savory, and its creamy texture is an invitation for ingredients to nestle within. It is no stranger to being used as the base of sauces to adorn meat, poultry and fish – the Indian raita being no exception. This cool condiment, spiked with cumin and mustard and textured by chickpeas, minced cucumber and red onion, takes as little time to assemble as the fish. A dash of red pepper gives it the perfect dose of heat to compliment the curry-spiced salmon. I recommend having a warmed pita or naan bread nearby to mop up any sauce that lingers at the end. Recipe from How to Cook Everything: Bittman Takes On America’s Chefs.
Flash-Cooked Curried Salmon
Makes 4 servings
Time: 10 minutes
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
2 tablespoons curry powder or Garam Masala
Salt to taste
Chickpea Raita (recipe follows)
1. Preheat the oven to 200°F. Cut the salmon fillets in half horizontally to make 8 thinner pieces: Hold your knife parallel to the cutting board and use your other hand to apply pressure on the salmon so the knife glides through evenly. Dust each piece with the curry powder and salt on both sides. Put 4 plates in the oven to warm.
2. Preheat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat for 1 minute the salmon should sizzle when it hits the pan?then add the fillet halves. Cook for 45 seconds to 1 minute on each side. You’ll see the opaque pink color salmon turns as it cooks climbing up the sides of the fillets almost as soon as it hits the pan, and the idea is to serve it just a touch rare in the middle. You’ll need to cook the fish in batches, but as each will take only 1 to 2 minutes, that shouldn’t be much of a problem.
3. Put the salmon on the warmed plates as it finishes. Serve immediately, with Chickpea Raita.
Makes: 2 1/2 Cups
Time: 10 minutes
It’s worth your while to seek out a yogurt that’s not overly processed for this raita (and, for that matter, any other use); national brands often add thickeners to their yogurts, which significantly change the yogurt’s natural consistency. If they’re all that’s available to you, just whisk the yogurt with a little water to thin it out.
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt, preferably full fat
1 cup cooked chickpeas, drained (canned are fine)
1/4 cup minced cucumber (leave the skin on if it’s unwaxed)
1/4 cup minced red onion
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
Salt and black pepper
1. Combine the yogurt, chickpeas, cucumber, onion, sugar, cumin, and mustard in a bowl.
2. Add red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste and serve immediately.