Cast iron -- salmon searing
I'm looking to sear salmon (either fillet or steak -- thoughts?) in my new pre-seasoned cast iron pan. I want to get a really good crust on the fish without overcooking. How do I do so? Do I finish it in the oven?
I've seared fillets in cast iron and finished in a hot oven. Doesn't take long, and the texture is wonderful. Put the flesh side down first, and then flip and move to the oven shortly.
I used this method for the past two nights' dinner, with a minor diff. I do not have or use the cast iron, but the theory should be the same. I use a non-stick calphalon.
- Season your fish (i use fillets) but be REAL careful on the salt front, if any, as the first time i tried this method it was like the Dead Sea. My new favorite is smoked paprika, it adds a real nice flavor to the fish.
- Then get the pan hot and since you are using cast iron, you know the drill.
- Place a little evoo in the pan and a few slivered slices of garlic to flavor the oil. Remove garlic before it turns bitter (great smell in the kitchen at this point)
- Place the salmon flesh side down into the pan
- after 1-2 minutes you can cheat and see how its doing with a little heat resistent spatula.
- Then flip over to skin side down
- At this point i place a few slices of lemon on the flesh side up and maybe throw some parboiled veggies in the pan to roast with the fish (brussels sprouts were a big hit the other night)
- Carefull place in the oven at 400
- My family likes fish med-well and i keep in the oven for 7-11 minutes depending on thickness, butpersonally this overcooks the fish so i would cut it in half if it were for me.
- When taking pan out of oven REMEMBER TO USE A MITT, it gets really hot.
Remove and plate. I normally place a mitt over the handle so someone does not mistakenly pick up the pan thicking they are helping with the pre-dinner clean up and burn the heck our of their hand. Been there done that and it really hurts.
The fish WILL stick to the pan at first. It takes a few minutes, but when the surface sitting on the iron is cooked it will release more easily and you'll be able to get the spatula in there. Follow the famous Canadian guidelines of 10 minutes total per inch of thickness. For most of the fillets I cook that works out to 3-4 minutes on the stove-top and the same in the oven (400º). Wild salmon is very forgiving of overcooking - I avoid the farmed stuff - as are cod, mahi mahi and ahi tuna, so if you have a tapered piece base your timing on the middle. The tail end will be a bit crunchy, but that's actually kind of nice, especially if you've pre-seasoned the fish.
As an alternative, you can just cook the fish entirely on the stove top, which is what I generally do unless I'm going to spread salsa or something over the fish before finishing it in the oven.
I always put a little butter melted in Evoo on the bottom of the pan. Adds a little flavor and guaranteed not to stick.
Never Fail Fish. Works great with Salmon filets. Get the cast iron skillet hot as hell with clarified butter. Or evoo. Salmon, flesh side down, just until it releases. Flip it over. At this point you can saute a few mushrooms or onion along the side if you wish. When it begins to release, scatter whatever herbs you choose (or none) such as dill, lemon slices, etc. on top, turn off the heat and cover the skillet. The salmon will finish cooking through in the retained heat. Remove the salmon. Make a quick pan sauce if you choose to pour over the fish or serve on the side, perhaps deglazing the pan with a little wine. It never overcooks. You don't have to waste the time nor the energy to pre-heat the oven for a 5-minute oven finish.
This works very well with thicker filets like cod or grouper. They all come out meltingly tender.
I agree with the basic technique above, but I wash/dry the fish. Drying is important. Then I rub the fish with oil - why heat it in the pan to burn if you're not using it? Season lightly with whatever, even salt/pepper will do a crust. Put the fish in flesh down and LEAVE IT ALONE 'til you see it going opaque at the edges. Flip, sear a few minutes more and finish in a preheated hot oven but don't let the overall cooking time go over 10 minutes per inch of thickness. THIS IS LOVELY for a really good salmon.