Crispy Skin Salmon with Miso Corn Puree and Tomatoes

Is there anything better than a perfectly seared crispy skin salmon? Here we pair the succulent fish with an umami forward and buttery miso corn puree and a subtly spicy tomato salad.

Mastering Crispy Skin Salmon

I love an easy marinaded baked salmon, but sometimes a perfect medium rare, pan seared fish with shatteringly crispy skin really hits the spot. For a detailed run down of this technique, I highly recommend checking out this article from Serious Eats. I will outline the technique below, but typically I follow that guide to a T.

Achieving the perfect crispy skin salmon relies on the following 6 steps:

1. Dry the skin

Moisture and crispness don’t play well together, so the first step to ensuring crispy skin is to thoroughly dry your salmon skin. To do this, simply season the flesh side of the salmon generously, flip the filets upside down, and use a paper towel to dry the skin to the best of your abilities. Then, place the salmon back in the fridge, uncovered and skin side up. This will help to further draw out any excess moisture from the skin.

2. Use a carbon steel or cast iron skillet

I’ve said this before, but if you want a good sear on anything, you’ll want to avoid non stick. Carbon steel or cast iron have the added benefit of slickness with searing capabilities, so you get the best of both worlds.

3. Play with heat

When searing anything, the first step is typically to heat a pan to screaming hot. For salmon, you want to heat the pan on medium high, just until the oil shimmers, then turn the heat down right before adding the fish. A few reasons this works:

  1. Hot oil and a a hot pan means the skin of the fish won’t chemically bond to the pan, which causes sticking.
  2. Salmon has a thick layer of fat right under the skin. Reducing the heat to medium low while cooking allows the fat to render slowly, which yields a crisper skin. Cooking your salmon too quickly will overcook the bottom half of the fish as well as cause unsightly albumen to leek out.
4. Press Down

To ensure that the salmon doesn’t curl up and cook unevenly, use a fish spatula or your hands to “confidently” push down on the fish. Do this right when you add your fish to the pan.

5. Cook 90% through on the skin side

As you slowly cook your salmon, you will notice the sides of the fish will become more opaque. Instead of searing both sides like a steak, perfect salmon is cooked pretty much entirely with the skin side down. This ensures a perfectly translucent and jiggly center. For accuracy, I recommend using a meat thermometer. You will know that your salmon is ready to flip when the center of the fish reads 120.

6. Cook very briefly on the flesh side

When your fish hits 120 degrees in the center, flip to the flesh side and cook for an additional 15-30 seconds.


Crispy Skin Salmon with Miso Corn Puree and Tomatoes

Recipe by Molly MossCourse: MainsDifficulty: Moderate
Servings

2

servings
Total time

45

minutes

Is there anything better than a perfectly seared crispy skin salmon? Here we pair the succulent fish with an umami forward and buttery miso corn puree and a subtly spicy tomato salad.

Ingredients

  • For the miso corn puree
  • Two ears of corn, shucked and kernels removed

  • Olive oil

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled

  • Zest of 1 lemon

  • Juice of ½ lemon

  • 2-3 tbsp butter, or vegan butter

  • 2 tsp dark red miso paste

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • For the tomato salad
  • 12 oz summer tomatoes (large or cherry both work)

  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

  • Juice of ½ lemon

  • 1 tsp sesame seeds

  • ½ tsp gochujang, or another chili product of your choice

  • Olive oil

  • Smoked sea salt (sub regular kosher salt) and freshly ground pepper

  • For the crispy skin salmon
  • Two 4-6 oz skin on salmon filets

  • Salt

  • Canola oil

  • Chili oil, optional

Directions

  • Prep the salmon and prepare the corn puree
  • Remove the salmon filets from the fridge and season generously with salt. Place on a plate, flesh side down, and use a paper towel to dry the skin side of the salmon. Place uncovered in the fridge (skin side up) while you prepare the rest of your ingredients. This will help dry the skin, which will yield a crispier texture when cooked.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot, add the whole garlic cloves. Saute the garlic for a few minutes, until lightly browned
  • Add the corn and reduce heat if needed. After about a minute, add the lemon zest and juice. Saute until bright yellow and tender, about 2-3 minutes more. Season lightly with salt and pepper (the miso will add a lot of salt), and remove from heat. Let cool slightly.
  • When the corn is no longer piping hot, transfer the kernels to a blender along with 2 tbsp of butter and 2 tsp of miso paste. Puree until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed and/or add more butter if needed.
  • Transfer the puree to a small saucepan and cover. Do not heat.
  • Prepare the tomato salad
  • Cut the tomatoes into bite size pieces and transfer them to a bowl along with the sliced scallions, sesame seeds, and gochujang (or any chili paste). Add the lemon juice, a solid glug of olive oil, and a generous pinch of smoked sea salt. Toss to combine, taste, and adjust seasoning as needed. Set aside.
  • Cook the salmon and plate
  • Heat a large cast iron or carbon steel pan over medium high heat (you can use non-stick here, but it’s not as ideal).
  • Once the pan is hot, add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Let the oil heat until shimmery.
  • Reduce the heat to medium low, then add the salmon filets, skin side down. Use a fish spatula (or your hands) to press each filet down for about 10 seconds each.
  • As soon as you put the salmon in the pan, place the covered saucepan with the corn puree on a burner and turn the heat to low. Stir occasionally as the salmon cooks to evenly heat through.
  • Cook the salmon 90% of the way through with the skin side down. You will see the “cooked” part of the salmon slowly rise from the bottom to the top. Better yet, use a meat thermometer, and cook until the center of the salmon reads 120 for medium rare. This can take around 5-7 minutes depending on the thickness of your filet. For a medium rare salmon, the center will still appear jiggly and translucent, and that is OK.
  • When the salmon registers 120 internally, flip the fish and cook for about 15-30 seconds on the flesh side. Remove from heat.
  • To plate, spread the corn puree on ½ of the plate and fill the other half with the tomato salad (it will be quite watery at this point from the salt, so use a slotted spoon to transfer just the tomatoes.
  • Place the salmon filet, skin side up, across the plate.
  • Garnish with chili oil and more scallions.
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