A number of years back, I had a co-worker and friend that struggled with her weight. Food was a subject that came up frequently in conversation, as she was always on the lookout for ways to prepare delicious tasting meals that didn't exceed calorie restrictions. This recipe is a version of one dish we both loved for it's simplicity and flavor. The first time I made it required a leap of faith to place the fillets in the hot pan without any oil! In this take, the mayo is an indulgence that I believe is worth the extra calories. The salmon's texture comes out almost like poached with the herbs providing visual interest and delicate flavor. No sauce required! —Amber Olson
center cut salmon fillets, about 6 ounces each, at least 1/2" thick, trimmed up to remove the thinish parts on one side, pin bones removed
mayonnaise (not low fat or non fat)
Big pinch of toasted ground Szechuan peppercorns
Big pinch of grated lemon zest
heaping cup chopped fresh herbs of your choice (basil, tarragon, mint, chives, lovage, chervil, oregano, parsley, thyme, marjoram, cilantro come to mind)
Chances are the salmon has the skin on, so using a sharp knife, ease the skin off. Check the flesh for any telltale scales and remove them.
Combine the mayo, Szechuan pepper and lemon zest in a small bowl. (I love the aromatics of this pepper which can delight your senses.) Smear about 1/2 TB of the mixture on each side of the fillets and place in a shallow bowl. Dump the chopped herbs over the fish and pack them on both sides, patting with your hands. Refrigerate a few minutes to firm up.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425.
Heat a medium size ovenproof skillet over high heat until very hot. Remove the fish from the fridg and place the fillets in the hot pan with the top side (the more rounded side) down. Sear 2 minutes, then turn fillets over and remove skillet from heat. Immediately pour the water around but not on top of the fish.
Place skillet in the oven for 5 minutes to finish the cooking. If fillets are thicker than 1/2", the roasting time may be a bit longer, so check centers of fillets with the tip of a knife to determine doneness.
Note: Dried herbs and spices will also work with this method. Use what flavors you enjoy with salmon!