Pan Seared Salmon with Asian Barbecue Glaze

Earlier this week Shane had plans with his friends after work so I was on my own for dinner. My first instinct was to take the easy way out and call a big bowl of popcorn dinner, or throw together my favorite boxed macaroni and cheese. I was still mulling over my options when I ran out to the store to grab a few things. Even when I know exactly what I want, I still tend to browse the aisles quite a bit rather than grab what I need and go, and on this day I was so glad I did.

I stumbled upon the most gorgeous sockeye salmon, and immediately decided it would be perfect for dinner that night! Salmon is my favorite fish, and it’s really not any more difficult or time consuming to cook than mac and cheese; the choice was easy. We go through phases with salmon and we are definitely in the midst of one right now. It was even on our Valentine’s Day menu last week! I’m willing to bet Shane was a little jealous that I made it when he wasn’t around :)

Pan Seared Salmon with Asian Barbecue Glaze

We’re pretty boring when it comes to preparing our salmon – in fact, I’d say 9 out of 10 times we make this panko-crusted salmon. I decided to branch out a little and try something new, figuring if it was a bust at least I’d be the only one who had to eat it. I should have known better though because the recipe was from Cook’s Illustrated and they so rarely disappoint.

This salmon is so quick and easy, it’s a perfect weeknight dinner idea but I’d also gladly serve it to company. The salmon is sprinkled with a tiny bit of brown sugar (which helps it to caramelize quickly) and seared for just a minute on each side, then it’s finished in the oven. Total cooking time? 10 minutes, if that! I think it’d be perfectly delicious if you stopped there, but to take it over the top a sweet and tangy Asian barbecue glaze is added. I got distracted and overcooked my salmon by a minute or two, but it was still a fantastic dinner, especially served with my first asparagus of the season!

Pan Seared Salmon with Asian Barbecue Glaze
barely adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, January/February 2011

Glaze
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Fish
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
4 (6-8 oz) skin-on salmon fillets
1 teaspoon canola oil

Preheat oven to 300 F.

To make the glaze: Add all of the ingredients to a small saucepan and whisk until combined. Set the pan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 3 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Turn off the heat under the pan, cover and set aside while you prep the fish.

In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, salt, and cornstarch. Pat the salmon fillets dry with paper towels then season each of them with black pepper. Distribute the brown sugar mixture evenly over the fillets.

Add the oil to an ovensafe 12-inch nonstick skillet. Set over medium-high heat and when the oil just begins to smoke, add the salmon (skin side up). Cook for 1 minute, or until nicely browned, then flip the fillets over and cook skin side down for 1 more minute. Turn off the heat under the pan and spoon some of the glaze over each piece of fish. Transfer the pan to the oven and continue cooking the fish until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 125 F. Your cooking time will vary depending on how thick your fish is, but roughly about 5-7 minutes.