I make this recipe often for a quick week night dinner, as well as serve it when we have company. It’s great for both because there’s little prep and it cooks quickly. Not to mention that it is absolutely delicious. Also pretty darn healthy (you only need a little bit of the glaze for each serving). Its presentation is nice too. Fancy. Like you know your way around the kitchen:)
Some helpful hints before you start: 1) make sure that you pat the salmon pieces dry before you salt and pepper them and add them to the pan. Otherwise the liquid on them will ‘steam’ instead of sear. 2) Before you add the balsamic mixture to the very hot pan, remove it from the burner. And if there is any oil remaining in the pan, remove it (otherwise it will inhibit the sauce from reducing). Add the mixture off heat and then return skillet to burner. And most important, 3) once the balsamic mixture is added to the pan let it reduce until it gets syrupy. Believe me, you are going to think it is finished before it gets to that stage (or you are going to think that it is at that stage when it really isn’t). It’s not that the sauce still isn’t good – its scrumptious. It’s just thinner (see pic below)
and, therefore, the flavors aren’t as concentrated. Reducing it down to the syrup stage isn’t going to leave you with a lot – but you don’t want to cover the fillet with it – rather just drizzle the sauce over the salmon. Don’t be off put if you need a couple of tries to figure out the timing to reduce it to the stage you prefer. It will be worth it!
Seared Salmon with Balsamic Glaze (adapted from Gourmet, Nov. 2000)
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 T. water
- 1.5 T. fresh lemon juice
- 4 tsp. brown sugar
- 4 salmon fillets
- salt & pepper
- 2 tsp. olive oil
Stir together the vinegar, water, lemon juice and brown sugar in a small bowl.
Pat dry the salmon fillets, season with salt and pepper. Add heat oil in a 12 inch skillet* set over medium high heat until hot but not smoking (the oil should shimmer). Sear salmon, skin side up, until well browned, about 4 minutes. Turn fish over and sear until just cooked through, another 3 to 4 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets and your preferred level of ‘doneness’ (rare, medium-rare, etc.).
Transfer salmon to plate (cover with foil if you’d like to keep warm). Remove skillet from burner, and if there is oil in the pan, empty it. Add vinegar mixture to skillet off-heat (it will bubble vigorously and steam so be careful). Return to burner and, on a high simmer, stir until thickened and reduced to about 3 tablespoons, 3 – 6 minutes usually (depending on skillet type, range heat, etc.) This, however, is one sauce that you can tell is done by its ‘syrupy’* consistency.
*I always spray my skillets with non-stick cooking spray before using.
*I still, occasionally, misjudge the timing of the sauce and serving it thinner than I had meant to. Still delicious – still receives high praise from guests.
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