I am fairly certain that Brad and I are salmon purists. We tend to like salmon best when it is grilled on the Weber with nothing but salt and pepper; a little garnish of dill and/or lemon on the side. I am however, intrigued once in a while when I come across a salmon recipe that I have never seen. This particular recipe for Seared Salmon with Cucumber and Brown Butter was interesting to me because I often see braised cucumbers being prepared on Food Network. I have never eaten cooked cucumbers but my curiosity has been peaked for quite some time. This alone, encouraged me to move ahead with the recipe.
1 to 1 1/2 lbs salmon fillet (center cut or head end), in one piece
salt and pepper
1 medium or 1/2 large cucumber, split length-wise, peeled, seeded and sliced (about 2 cups)
2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
whole or chopped chives for garnish
Slice salmon on a diagonal into 8 equal pieces, about 1/2 inch thick (or have it cut at fish market). Season slices lightly on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook salmon slices until just slightly underdone, about a minute and a half on each side. Transfer to warm plates.
Add cucumber to skillet and cook until lightly browned.
Photo Courtesy of Brad Lovejoy
Add butter, pinch of salt and lemon juice. Cook until butter browns slightly. Remove pan from heat, arrange cucumber slices alongside salmon, and drizzle browned butter over fish. Garnish with chives.
The dish was enjoyable but there were a few things that I would alter. The first is to leave the salmon as a whole fillet instead of cutting it into several pieces. I purchased a beautiful piece of fresh Wild King Salmon from Seattle Fish Company. It was such a nice fillet that I contemplated disregarding the recipe directive to cut into it. I really had to talk myself in to slicing through the fillet and in retrospect, I wish I had left it whole. We would have preferred the salmon portioned out after searing took place because cutting it into smaller pieces seemed to cause the fish to lose moisture. I also think salmon cuts better when it is cooked..... just a personal preference.
The next change I would make is to squeeze fresh lemon juice over the finished product instead of adding it to the cucumbers and brown butter as they cooked. The cucumber quickly absorbed the lemon juice so we were left with cucumbers that tasted strongly of lemon. I can imagine how good the cucumbers would have tasted sauteed in brown butter only.
All in all, this recipe had good bones but personal preference would lead me to make a few changes. I would like to try it again with a full fillet of salmon and a fresh squeeze of lemon at the end. I will put it on my list of recipes to re-try with a few tweaks. That is what cooking is all about anyway, right? Find a recipe with a good idea and then alter it to fit your personal taste.
"West Coast Seafood; A Complete Cookbook" by Jay Harlow