Basil meet Garlic, Garlic meet Butter, Butter…You Know What to Do

Strange food combinations work. But, sometimes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it with more weird. When it comes to salmon–enter: garlic, butter and basil.

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Serves: 1 • Prep Time: 5 mins (skillet) / 10-15 mins (oven) • Cook Time: 7-10 mins (skillet) / 8-11 mins (oven)

Straight from the Forq Kitchen!
by Rachel Silver


Basil meet Garlic, Garlic meet Butter, Butter…You Know What to Do

Normally I do not encourage avoiding necessary work. Especially when it causes you to suffer through a holding-your-eyeballs-open-since-it’s-four-a.m. cram session to finish said work. This is not one of those times. Today’s salmon recipe, cooked by ‘yours truly’ during one of her *rare* procrastination moments, produced heavenly results. Heavenly. I’m 21, and I declare—they were ‘heavenly.’ The joy of cooking up a magnificent mid-day salmon snack (and maybe procrastinating further by inviting my friends over to share in the salmon splendor) instead of doing my “real” work was well worth the agony of holding my eyeballs open into the wee hours of that night (true story). No regrets.

If I can offer any advice at my ripe young age, it is this: every once in a while, when you need a break from life’s stresses, take yourself on a cooking adventure. The results can be renewing. At the least, they’ll make your kitchen smell delicious. And that’s no small thing.

The Perfect Pairing

I’m certainly one to experiment with strange food combinations. Sidenote: as of late, I’ve started adorning (yes, adorning) my hard boiled eggs with salt, pepper, seto fumi furikaki (I’m showing off) and a dab of hot sauce. Yum.

Strange food combinations work. But, sometimes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it with more weird. When it comes to salmon–enter: garlic, butter and basil.

This is all salmon needs. Period.

Oh, and did I mention basil? Please use basil.

slicedbutterbasil2

In addition to the perfect ingredients, I need the perfect salmon. This wild beaut is packing some stunning reds. And bones—make sure to pick those out, or ask your local butcher to do so. A good fishmonger will happily assist you, whether you want the bones picked out or the skin removed (occasionally this is allowed–see, again, gorgeous salmon skin recipe). Don’t be afraid to ask a good fishmonger for what you need.

It’s getting hot up in the kitchen. This recipe feels… almost sexy?

(But, then, my kitchen is the size of a shoebox, heats up fast, and anything feels sexy when you’re sweating in a tank top. No pictures for that one—sorry guys!)

When it comes to salmon, enter: garlic, butter and basil. This is all salmon needs. Period.

Let’s Do This

Butter. Butter takes on a life of its own. And it’s beautiful.

Oh garlic. How you bubble and scent my apartment with your lovely aroma.

When sautéing the garlic, make sure to lightly sauté until garlic is soft, but not quite browned.

How you tease me, basil. More please, now.

Time to focus. Rub the salmon with oil and season with salt and pepper. Salt and pepper, yet simple, are the most essential ingredients to any salmon recipe. Salt adds flavor and succulence and creates tenderizing magic.

There is currently contention in the cooking community about whether to cook salmon flesh-side down, or skin-side down. From what I’ve found, when cooking salmon on a BBQ, it’s best to initially place the salmon flesh-side down, because it will easily release from the BBQ grill when done cooking. When it comes to the cast-iron, it doesn’t matter as much (since there is so much oil/butter/what-have-you in the pan that even the salmon skin will release easily), so it depends which cooking-style you’re going for.

If you want to take the skin off (which I usually fervently frown upon (see oft-quoted Salmon Skin Recipe), although when cooking salmon on the skillet, I will turn a blind eye to such conduct in the name of extra crispy salmon flesh), and make both sides of the salmon filet crispy, place salmon flesh-down in your cast-iron. Right before it’s time to flip the salmon, peel the salmon skin right off—there should be little resistance. Flip the salmon, and continue cooking to crisp up the other (previously skinned) side.

If you want to keep the skin on, you can place the salmon either flesh-down (for extra crispy flesh), or skin down (for extra crispy skin). When I cooked this salmon recipe, I took a risk and went for the flesh-side-down method (to ensure crispy flesh, while possibly sacrificing crispy salmon skin in the process), but the salmon skin crisped right up because of the heat. So, salmon skin does not need to touch the pan (or BBQ) in order to cook properly. Salmon flesh, on the other hand, must touch the surface it’s cooked on in order to get crispy. Good to know.

When cooking salmon in the skillet, it’s important to incrementally baste. Basting cooks the salmon in its own juices as well as the delicious garlic-basil-butter sauce I prepared—I don’t want that butter to go to waste! And, speaking on behalf of all garlic-lovers, we want all the garlic to stick to our salmon. As a beloved Finding Nemo character might say, (should she ever cook salmon, which now that I think about it, would be very wrong.), “just keep basting, basting, basting, what do we do, we baste!”

Within no time, your salmon should look spectacular; nice and pink on the outside…

…And the inside? Impeccably cooked salmon should be red on the inside when you take it off the cast-iron.

Want to ramp up the crispy? No problema. Cook it at a hotter temperature for the first few minutes. Yum yum yum.

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Let’s Do This: Round Two

I think I have the answer: more salmon!

I must admit, I loved this recipe so much I cooked it a second way: with the good ol’ oven! So I’m kind of cheating by adding another cooking method, but…

Basil
Garlic
BASIL
GARLIC
BUTTER!!!!!

You understand.

Get messy with your seasoning rub: smear oil, salt and pepper on your salmon fillet with your fingers. It’s just more fun this way.

Heat your oil, butter and garlic on the stove. Pour onto your salmon. Next step? You guessed it.

BASIL, B******!

Hello taste bud explosion.

Directions

Here’s how to make this delicious recipe

Keepin’ it Classy: the Skillet

Rinse your salmon and pat dry. Remove any pin bones. Rub with oil and season with salt and pepper. Don’t forget to wash your hands after handling raw fish!

Prepare your salmon toppings. Chop garlic and slice basil into long, thin strips (chiffonade).

Melt butter and olive oil together in your cast-iron skillet over medium high heat. Add chopped garlic and lightly sauté (softening, not browning, the garlic).

Basil_Garlic_4

Add chopped garlic and lightly sauté (softening, not browning, the garlic)

Add basil a few moments prior to adding your salmon.

If you keep the skin on:
Place salmon flesh-down in your cast-iron. Baste salmon with the butter/oil/garlic/basil mixture surrounding the salmon. To make your salmon skin extra crispy, cook it for the first few minutes (3-4) on medium-high. Continue to baste your salmon throughout the cooking process. Turn heat down to medium-low and continue to cook for the remainder of the cooking time.

If you take the skin off:
Place salmon skin-down in your cast-iron. Baste salmon with the butter/oil/garlic/basil mixture surrounding the salmon.

Basil_Garlic_5

Baste salmon with the butter/oil/garlic/basil mixture surrounding the salmon

To make one side of the flesh nice and crispy, cook it for the first few minutes (3-4) on medium-high. Flip salmon and remove salmon skin. Continue to baste your salmon throughout the cooking process. Turn heat down to medium low and cook for the remainder of the cooking time.

Cook until salmon is pink on the outside and a dark red on the inside. Scoop the remaining basil and garlic goodies from the cast-iron and garnish your salmon.

Serve with lemon, of course!

Keepin’ it Classy: the Oven

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Rinse your salmon and pat dry. Now is a good time to check for bones. Place your salmon onto the foil and salt to your liking. Don’t forget to wash your hands after handling raw fish!

Prepare your salmon toppings. Melt butter and olive oil together in a small skillet on the stove (usually I’m lazy and use the microwave, but because I am sautéing garlic, I decided to do it the *real* way). Add chopped garlic to mixture and lightly sauté (softening, not browning, the garlic). Remove from heat. Chop basil into long, thin strips (called chiffonade). Add basil to butter/oil/garlic mixture.

Slightly fold up all four edges of the foil – this prevents the dribbles from spilling onto the baking sheet. Lightly re-salt salmon, and pepper to your liking. Pour your delicious sauce on the salmon.

Basil_Garlic_6

Pour your delicious sauce on the salmon.

If, like me, you’ve just touched your salmon again (squish!), wash your hands. Last, fold the sides of the foil completely over the salmon, creating a sealed pouch.

Basil_Garlic_7

Fold the sides of the foil completely over the salmon, creating a sealed pouch

Pop your salmon into the oven and cook for 8-11 minutes, depending on how rare you like it. I like my salmon a bit rare, so 9 minutes was good for me.

Remove from oven when done, unwrap foil (be careful if the foil is hot, although I noticed it didn’t get as hot as expected), carefully place salmon and tomatoes on a plate, and serve hot. Garnish with lemon, of course!

Ingredients (for either method)

  • 1/2 lb piece of salmon
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 4-5 basil leaves chopped into long, thin strips
  • Salt and pepper to taste (or my favorite, Jane’s Crazy Mixed Up Salt – seriously, buy this, you will use it on everything you cook. Also good is Jane’s Crazy Mixed Up Pepper.)
  • Lemon wedge for garnish (can one really have too much lemon with their salmon?)

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Who’s Cooking Today

Rachel Silver

Rachel Zoë Silver, a recent Cal Berkeley graduate, has been a foodie since her first sushi at three years old. With heritage from the Pacific Northwest, she learned early how to select the best fish from the Pike Place market. Her parents, also cooks and foodies, schlepped her to the best restaurants up and down the West Coast and through Italy. Rachel was still missing her front teeth when she mastered her grandmother’s Apple Pie recipe. She is still as excited by food as she was when, at 18 months, discovered on the pantry floor, hands and face smeared brown, she declared, “Chocolate is Yum!”

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The full FORQ salmon recipes archive, straight from our FORQ Enthusiasts.

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