Though my mother primarily made salmon, her searing technique is good for any type of fish with the skin on. Similarly, the green sauce can be adapted to include a variety of different herbs. See notes below for which combinations work best. And finally, I also recommend experimenting with the different ways to eat the dish itself. The green sauce thinned out makes an excellent dressing for a mixed greens salad with the seared salmon on top, and also mixed together, can make a great mayonnaise base for herbed salmon salad, which is what I had for lunch the following day.
- 2 salmon filets
- ½ lemon, juiced
- about 2/3 cup herbs (I used 3 tbsp chives, 2 tbsp tarragon, 1 tbsp parsley)
- 1 tsp lemon thyme (optional)
- 1 egg yolk
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- salt to taste
- Wash the filets and pat dry with towels. In a cast-iron skillet, heat a few tablespoons of butter until it has stopped foaming and is turning brown, or heat enough olive oil to generously cover the bottom of the pan until it is smoking a little. To test the oil, flick it with a little bit of water. If it sizzles, the oil is hot enough. Put the filet flesh side down in the hot oil/butter.
- When you can see the fish is cooked (opaque) about halfway up and the flesh side has a brownish crust, turn the heat down and flip the fish.
- When the filet looks nearly cooked through, spoon some of the lemon juice over the filet. When the bottom is fully cooked, set aside. Salt.
- Follow a standard recipe for making mayo from scratch: basically, whisk an egg yolk in a bowl until it turns from bright to paler yellow which means it’s ready to accept oil. Add the Dijon mustard, then whisk in oil (I alternate olive with something milder like sunflower oil) drop by drop. After it’s clear that the mayo is amalgamating successfully and not separating, you can increase the oil from drops to a thin stream, always whisking like crazy. One egg yolk should accept up to 3/4 cup of oil. Then add the vinegar and lemon juice (in Spain they use lime) for acidity, then salt and white pepper to taste. Whisk in the herbs and serve along side the fish in heaping spoonfuls.
TIP: If you’re serving more than 6 people, start the mayo recipe with 2 egg yolks. Use organic because there’s less likelihood of salmonella with free-range chickens.
NOTE: For the herb combination, use either chopped basil or tarragon or (mildest) snipped dill. I wouldn’t combine any of these. I like tarragon. Other herbs for the background: snipped chives, minced parsley, a little fresh thyme. If you use mint, do it very sparing so it’s just a hint. All told it should be about 2/3 cup of herbs.