In this two-step cooking process, the fish emerges from the oven with a delicate, flavorful crust and a moist interior. The bright-tasting butter melts to form a tangy sauce. The recipe makes more than enough butter; wrap unused butter in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to a month, and use as a compound butter for meat, fish or vegetables.
Serve the salmon with polenta and steamed green beans.
- 4 (20 ounces) salmon fillets (skin-on or skinless), about 3/4 inch thick
- 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, warmed slightly*
- 2 tablespoons finely minced ginger root
- 2 tablespoons snipped chives
- Olive oil, for searing
- Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Remove the salmon fillets from the refrigerator, pat dry and set aside at room temperature.
In a small bowl, combine the butter, lemon juice, ginger and chives. Set aside.
Place a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat and add just enough olive oil to make a light film. Season the fillets lightly with salt and pepper to taste. When the oil is very hot, add the fillets, skin side up, and sear until nicely browned, about 1 minute. Turn them over; immediately place the skillet in the oven. Roast for 2 minutes for medium-rare, 3 to 4 minutes for medium. Check for doneness by flaking the fish with the tip of a knife at its thickest part; the flesh should be barely opaque at the center.
Transfer the fish to individual plates; any skin probably will remain stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Serve immediately, with a dollop of melting lemon ginger butter on top of each fillet.
*NOTE: Warmed lemon juice will combine more readily with the butter, but it should not be hot enough so that the butter melts. A few seconds in the microwave is all it needs.
Adapted from "The 150 Best American Recipes," by Fran McCullough and Molly Stevens (Houghton Mifflin, 2006, $30). It first appeared in Fine Cooking magazine.
Tested by Jane Touzalin.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.