Spring has officially arrived in the Pacific Northwest (according to both the calendar and the flowering cherry trees outside my kitchen), and I’m ready for something lighter. The last few months of cheesy pastas and comforting soups have been fabulous, but now I want fresh things that aren’t smothered in sauces. (Okay, that is a little bit of a lie. But it is time for a change.)
I love a good fillet of fish, especially salmon. We’re lucky in Oregon to have great access to wild-caught fish. So I splurged and grabbed some wild sockeye for its deep red color. King and Chinook salmon are also great choices. Consult this guide for help choosing the right salmon variety.
The marinade is key to this recipe. I’ll admit I often skip this step because I’m super impatient, but it’s really a night-and-day difference in flavor. Two hours of marinating is great, four is better! A whole day? Even better. This marinade is simple but packs a punch. And cutting the salmon into pieces before you marinate it exposes more flesh to the marinade and speeds up the process.
I’ve been a fan of baking salmon in the past, but pan-searing it is fast, easy and creates a delicious crust.
As for the sides, snap peas are some of my favorites. They barely even need seasonings. And once you make quinoa or rice with coconut milk, good luck ever going back to plain old water.
Together, these components come together for a spring meal that is both flavorful and healthy. (Okay, okay, maybe not so healthy with all the soy sauce and coconut milk and butter. But the intent to be healthy was there. That’s all that matters, right?)
Pan-Seared Salmon with Coconut Quinoa and Snap Peas
For the marinade
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 3 inches ginger, thinly sliced
- 2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 shallot bulb, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon of honey
For the salmon
- 1 fillet of salmon, about 1 pound, deboned and cut into four 3-inch-wide fillets*
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
For the quinoa
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
- ½ cup water
For the peas
- 1 pound sugar snap peas
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Dash flake salt
- Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.
- Place salmon in shallow bowl or zip-top bag and pour marinade over fish, turning pieces to coat. Put salmon in fridge and marinate for at least 2 hours.
- Combine quinoa, coconut milk and water in small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to low, stir, cover and simmer until liquid is gone and quinoa is fluffy, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, steam or saute peas over medium heat for 5 minutes. Run peas under cold water, drain and set aside.
- Heat a 12-inch cast-iron pan over high heat for 3 minutes. Add oil and swirl to coat. Wait 1 more minute, until oil shimmers, and add salmon, skin-side down. Take care not to move fish after you place it on the pan. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook until skin is browned, about 4 minutes. Flip fish flesh-side down, and cook 3-4 more minutes, until salmon is opaque. Remove fish from pan and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, toss peas with butter and lemon juice and finish with a pinch of flake salt.
- To serve, spoon quinoa into large bowls or onto plates and place the salmon on top. Serve peas on the side. Green onions or sesame seeds also make great garnish.