Living in the Pacific Northwest is a great blessing to someone who loves high-quality food, especially seafood! Wild salmon are almost literally knocking on our back doors and there's every opportunity to take advantage of their popularity. Salmon is bold and can stand up to so many flavors, even spicy ones. This recipe for Salmon with Chili Ginger Aioli is an excellent example.
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Look at that color, would you?! Wow. But the point of this paragraph is to remind you to remove the bones. Your fishmonger would probably be willing to do it for you if you are unsure about how to do it.
If you want to attempt it yourself, use a pair of fish tweezers, or even a pair of needle nose pliers. Just be sure they are clean! Grab the tip of the bone with your tweezers and pull toward the head end of the fish. That is also pulling in the direction that the bone is facing. If the bone slips from the tweezers, just try again!
Do you cook salmon flesh side or skin side first?
Frankly, I'm not sure it matters a ton. It depends on your goal. If you eat the skin and want it crispy, you should cook it skin side down. I don't love eating the skin, but I love having some browning on the flesh so I choose to start flesh side down. It gets good color on it, but is still not too done when I try to flip it so that it stays together really well.
After I flip it (using my nifty fish spatula), I don't have touch it again until it's done. The skin isn't as crispy, but the flesh doesn't flake off, and I can easily tell when it gets done.
How can you tell when salmon is done?
Great question! I think people, in general, are scared of undercooking food and believe that overcooking is better just to be safe. Once you learn what to look for, you can cook more confidently and avoid chalky, dry meats!
With salmon, it is done when it flakes apart just a bit, is still a little translucent inside (you can peek in when you are flaking), and when the white fat lines are still intact. If the white fat has bubbled up and turned into opaque white blobs, you have probably overcooked it.
Be sure to take it off the heat earlier than you think! You can always cook it some more, but you can't UNcook it! The heat it holds will keep on cooking it after it is removed from the heat, too.
What is an aioli?
Strictly speaking and traditionally, an aioli is mayonnaise seasoned generously with garlic. However, it would seem that its definition has broadened to include "mayonnaise with various other flavors"! In this case, it has ginger, lime zest and juice, Asian chili garlic sauce (Sambal Oelek), Worcestershire sauce, and cilantro. These are all strong flavors that meld together so nicely and complement the salmon perfectly!
You'll likely have leftovers of the aioli. Save it to use as a spread on sandwiches, to mix into tuna salad, to dip French fries or chips in, or as a salad dressing.
How do you serve Salmon with Chili Ginger Aioli?
I serve it with Sauteed Garlic Green Beans for a very healthy, satisfying dinner. If you like, you could also serve it with rice or quinoa, or roasted cauliflower.
Other seafood recipes:
Salmon with Chili Ginger Aioli
- 2 pounds wild salmon fillet bones removed
- olive oil to brush on the fish
- salt and pepper for seasoning
FOR THE AIOLI
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ½ teaspoon fresh lime zest
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger peeled and minced
- 1½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1½ teaspoons Asian chili garlic sauce known as Sambal Oelek
- 2 teaspoons cilantro minced
FOR THE AIOLI
- Mix all of the ingredients together and set aside to be spooned on the fillet to serve.
FOR THE SALMON
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Cast iron is my skillet of choice!
- Brush the salmon fillet with the olive oil, and season it with salt and pepper. Add a little oil to the skillet and place the salmon fillet in flesh side down. As it turns golden, flip it to the skin side. Let it continue to cook until it flakes apart just a bit, is still a little translucent inside (you can peek in when you are flaking), and when the white fat lines are still intact. If the white fat has bubbled up and turned into opaque white blobs, you have probably overcooked it.
- Remove to a platter and let it rest briefly. Cut servings from the fillet and serve with a dollop of aioli.