Oh salmon and asparagus lovers, make this for dinner TO-NIGHT. It was insanely delicious and very easy.
As often as I crave salmon, I find that I don’t buy it or cook it enough. It’s not a favorite meal of my husband or son (even though the husband will eat it). It seems too finicky and expensive to do for group entertaining (although I love to serve it at smaller dinner parties.) So I often find myself passing it by in the grocery store, until one day, I just must have it and cook it for myself. My comfort food.
This recipe, adapted from Gourmet’s Ian Knauer is wonderful. The key is the lime butter sauce (I know, not healthy.) But oh so good. And a little goes a long way (unless you eat it by the spoonful as you are ‘testing’ as I did.)
I always buy salmon filet with the skin on. Go for wild-caught Pacific salmon if you can find it. If your store only has Atlantic farm-raised salmon, look for pink-fleshed, firm filets, and go ahead and be persnickety–go to the fish counter and ask the seafood guy or gal a few questions. Take a sniff. Fish should smell like the sea (a little bit briny) but not at all fishy.
For the salmon:
- 4 (6-oz) pieces center-cut salmon fillet (about 1 inch thick) with skin
- 2 tsp olive oil
- salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper
- 6 tablespoons lime butter sauce
For the asparagus:
- 1 1/2 lb medium asparagus (24), trimmed
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
For the Lime-Butter Sauce:
- 1 large garlic clove, chopped
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 C. uncooked quinoa
- 2 C. water or stock (as package requires)
- 1/4 C. chopped fresh mint
- 1/4 C. chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 C. Lime-Butter Sauce
- Pinch of kosher salt to taste
For the Salmon:
- Preheat your grill (medium high heat for gas or about 350°). Make sure grill grates are clean and brush them with oil so fish does not stick.
- Brush fillets lightly on both sides with extra virgin olive oil, then season both flesh and skin sides with salt and pepper.
- Put salmon filets on hot grill, SKIN side down; grill with the lid closed without moving them until skin crisps and you can lift with a spatula, about 6-7 minutes (depending on how thick your filets are.)
- Hint: once the albumen (the white stuff that is a protein in salmon) shows on the flesh surface that means it’s almost done.
Do NOT flip until you can easily loosen the salmon skin from the grill grate. (I usually don’t flip them at all because I find they fall apart. I want tender salmon and I don’t want it all to fall in the grate.)
For the Grilled Asparagus:
- Prepare grill (to medium high heat, as for salmon above.)
- Toss trimmed asparagus with olive oil and season with kosher salt.
- Place asparagus perpendicular directly on the oiled grill rack (or alternatively place on a grill pan so they don’t go through the grate ) and grill until blistered and tender, 3 to 5 minutes, turning occasionally.
For the Lime-Butter Sauce:
- Purée garlic clove with lime juice, salt, and pepper in a blender until smooth.
- With motor running, add melted butter and blend until emulsified, about 30 seconds.
Lime butter sauce can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Stir before using.
For the Quinoa with Parsley and Mint:
I made the quinoa the night before, following the package directions.
- Cook the quinoa in 2 and 1/4 to 2 and 1/2 cups fresh water, covered, until all of the water is absorbed. Add pinch of kosher salt to taste. (You can also cook the quinoa in chicken or vegetable stock if you desire a more robust taste.) At this point you can refrigerate the quinoa over night and reheat it before serving.
- Scoop the cooked quinoa into a bowl and add the chopped mint and parsley. Toss.
- Before plating with the grilled salmon and asparagus, add 1/4 C. of the warm Lime-Butter Sauce to the quinoa. Toss.
(Rebecca’s Note: Here’s a marriage hint. If you love under-done fish (I would call it “just-right”) and your husband loves over-done fish (he would call it “not raw”), remember that you can always finish it in the oven or on stove-top.
It can be hard to see things out there on the grill unless you have an outdoor kitchen with as much lighting as your regular kitchen. Restaurants routinely finish grilled or seared steaks in the oven (after bathing them in herb butter.) In this recipe you’ve got lime butter sauce going for you. If you bring your grilled salmon in from outside and it looks just right to you but too pink for your significant other, then put the filet in question in a heated, oiled cast iron pan (fish flesh down or up) and spoon some of the lime butter sauce on top. Get a sear on it, and let him decide when it’s done. In fact, if you want a good sear or char on your fish but want it tender on the inside, you might want to do this treatment on yours as well.)