Monday, March 15, 2010

Pepper-seared Asian salmon over napa cabbage

Years ago I found a recipe for "marinated salmon seared in a pepper crust" on the Food Network website. It was amazing the first time I made it, and it continues to be amazing every time I make it. It tastes complicated, but it's really easy. The only catch is that the searing process almost always makes the fire alarm go off. For this reason, whenever I make it I have my husband standing by with a dish towel, ready to start fanning the alarm as soon as the smoke starts billowing out of the pan.

Here is the original recipe...more accurately, it's my interpretation of the original recipe. Actually, I feel quite confident calling this recipe my own because I've made so many alterations to it over the years.


Grind a whole bunch of black pepper onto a plate. If you start to get carpal tunnel, then you can add in some plain old pre-ground black pepper.

In a large sealable plastic bag (or a bowl), combine the following ingredients:

2 tbsp soy sauce
1 garlic clove, minced and mashed to a paste
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp sugar
a pinch of grated fresh ginger

(This is about enough marinade for two salmon filets...if you're going to make more, just double it. My best advice is to make more than you think you'll need because it serves as a sauce at the end.)

Place salmon fillets into the bag with the marinade, seal, and marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes. Remove the salmon from the bag, pat dry, and press the pepper onto both sides of each salmon filet until its thoroughly coated. *Keep the marinade!*

In a heavy skillet, heat the oil until it is hot but not smoking. Saute the salmon for a few minutes on each side, or until it flakes with a fork. Put on a plate and drizzle with the leftover marinade.

Now, for the addendum...

In my newest bountiful basket, I opted for the "Asian Pack," which was a bag of ingredients typically used in Asian cooking. I got some snap peas, mushrooms, bok choy, ginger, cilantro, garlic, and a mystery green. After hunting around at the grocery store, I was later able to identify the mystery green as napa cabbage.

Napa cabbage isn't all that strange an ingredient, but I can honestly say I've never cooked with it or purchased it before. But since I had one in my fridge, I thought I would chop it and saute it to serve with my favorite salmon.

So after the salmon was done cooking and removed onto a separate plate, I put some chopped napa cabbage in the saute pan, and tossed it with some of the leftover marinade. I only sauteed it for a minute or so...just until it had a chance to absorb the marinade, but hadn't yet become limp. Then I made a bed of the cabbage on the plate, put the salmon on top, and poured the rest of the marinade over the whole concoction.

It was so good, I am pretty sure I will never make this salmon without the napa cabbage again. To me, it's the perfect sauteed green because it doesn't really wilt - it's more like a warm crispy salad. And it doesn't have that really green, health-foody taste like kale, chard, and spinach have. Trust me - I usually hate sauteed greens, and this was truly delicious!


  1. This looks SO good! I am doing a "Taste the World" theme each Friday and so each week I'm cooking a dish inspired by the country I'm focused on. Right now I'm doing China, so this fits in perfectly! You should stop by and see the fish recipe I cooked today!

  2. Speaking of kale, I keep trying to find it at the grocery store so I can make those chips, but they never have it. So I had to settle for Cool Ranch Doritos instead.

  3. Adam, you might have to shop somewhere other than CVS!!! :)

  4. That looks delish!! I have a similar marinade minus the pepper but i know you like your spice! I am gonna have to try it!

    CAN YOU BELIEVE I FORGOT BOUNTIFUL HARVEST AGAIN!! Scatterbrained!! Maybe if I ate more produce i would be more with it!

  5. Kelly - that's why I love it...I eat SO much more produce on the weeks I do it vs. the weeks I don't. Once you do it one time you'll be hooked.

  6. This looks so good. I have a 'like' dish but use Oyster sauce - ala 'Strange Flavor' on most menu's - yum!

  7. I am definitely trying as we both love salmon and cabbage!! Has it been a week since I left......can't believe it.