I grew up in a relatively salmon-less household. It was a pink, dangerous-looking piece of meat. The fish aisle at the supermarket always seemed out-of-bounds and untouchable. My family always considered salmon to be a fishy fish and instead opted for the agreeably bland tilapia, which we inevitably deep-fried and ate as tilapia nuggets. We were lying to ourselves, eating tasteless fish masked in oily, delicious batter just to say we were eating fish.
There had to be more to life than tilapia.
Having my own household gave me the opportunity to experiment with previously banned ingredients. Being new to cooking fish (and cooking in general,) Barefoot Contessa’s Asian Grilled Salmon recipe fit the bill perfectly. Aside from the fish itself, we had the entirety of its short, 4-ingredient list already at home, and it only took fifteen minutes of our evening to make. Can’t beat that.
We gloried in its meaty (and surprisingly not fishy) flavors, the olive oil and garlic making the fish the star of the show instead of trying to mask its own taste in embarrassment.
This was such a solid dish that we offered to make it for my salmon-virgin in-laws one night, their first cautious bites twisting their faces with childlike fascination.
“This is pretty good,” my husband’s stepdad grumbled in between bites, trying to sound unimpressed.
Several days later I found myself replying to text messages coyly asking for the recipe. While we’re a salmon family now, I’m still trying to figure out a way to make those tilapia nuggets work.
Asian Grilled Salmon adapted from Barefoot Contessa
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 9 minutes
Number of servings: 6
- 3 lbs of fresh salmon, skin on
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- Brush a grilling rack with oil (I like to use my George Foreman grill pan in my apartment) to keep the salmon from sticking. Leave it on while you cut the salmon crosswise into four even pieces.
- Combine the mustard, soy sauce, olive oil, and garlic in a small bowl, whisking until it’s this interesting shade of yellow-brown.
- Pour half of the marinade onto the salmon, spreading it lovingly with a brush and allow it to sit for about 10 minutes
- Place the salmon skin side down on the hot grill and grill it for 5 minutes. Turn carefully and grill the other side for another 4 to 5 minutes.
- Quickly transfer the fish to a plate, skin side down, and add the rest of the marinade on top. The fish might seem like it’s not entirely cooked, but that’s fine. It’ll continue cooking itself while it rests.
- Allow the fish to rest for 10 minutes before removing the skin.
- Serve at whatever temperature floats your boat. Feel free to munch on the crunchy salmon skin if you’re into that sort of thing.
Disclaimer: Tilapia nuggets can be pretty darn tasty, especially when you’re a kid who enjoys eating nugget-shaped things with no apparent nutritional value. Thanks for sneaking the fish into my diet – love you, mom!