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Ina Garten’s Seared Salmon with Spicy Red Pepper Aioli

Ina Garten’s Seared Salmon with Spicy Red Pepper Aioli

We’d be hard-pressed to find anything easier to cook than Salmon…

At the risk of becoming like one Trent Pheifer, we present yet another Ina Garten masterpiece. Trent Pheifer is a 35-year-old man who took it upon himself to cook every single one of Ina’s recipes. That is one monumental task given that our Ina has an 18-year cooking career and 12 published cookbooks.  But we can’t help feeling Trent, whose food blog is called “Store Bought is Fine”, glommed onto this fantastic recipe in a New York minute. Because that’s almost as fast as it takes to make this absolutely delicious recipe. The prep time is 10 minutes tops, the cooking time is 6 minutes. And the fish rests for up to 5.  As Ina would say “How Easy is That?”.

We’d be even harder-pressed to find a Salmon recipe as good as Ina’s.

This recipe is from Ina’s “Modern Comfort Food”(Clarkson Potter 2020).  Ina’s timing on this one was incredible. She’d captured the quarantine crowd last April when she poured her beverage of choice: A bright pink cosmopolitan in an enormous glass. It was nine o’clock in the morning. Back to the pink salmon.  Cooked in a cast-iron skillet, the salmon is seared over high heat on the stovetop then finished in the oven. It emerges crispy on the outside, moist on the inside.  But the absolute icing on the cake or salmon is this terrific spicy aioli. Its red and chipotle peppers, garlic, and lime juice give it a smoky-smooth spiciness that’s out of this world.

What kind of Salmon should you buy for this or any other Salmon recipe?

If you take sustainability to heart, as every thoughtful cook should, you should consult the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. It’s at www.seafoodwatch.org. You can download it onto your phone and take it along on your fish shopping. According to Seafood Watch, virtually all Atlantic Salmon is now farmed rather than wild-caught.  Top of the list is Norwegian Salmon which is raised in marine net pens in its famous fjords.  Having cruised those fjords myself, I cannot imagine cleaner water anywhere. Next on the list as a “Good Alternative” is Farmed Atlantic salmon from 1) Maine; 2) British Columbia, Canada; 3) Scotland’s Orkney Islands; 4) the Faroe Islands; and 5) worldwide when produced in indoor recirculating tanks without wastewater treatment. Salmon to be avoided is that farmed in Washington State, Scotland’s Shetland Islands, and Chile. Now let’s cook some fish. And after Ina’s recipe, some other salmon recipes to try.

Ina Garten's Seared Salmon with Spicy Red Pepper Aioli

February 18, 2021
: 4
: 10 min
: 25 min
: As easy as it gets.

Salmon that's crispy on the outside, moist on the inside. But it's the Aioli that gives this dish a smoky-smooth spiciness that’s out of this world.

By:

Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon (canned) chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¼ cup jarred roasted red peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup good mayonnaise, such as Hellman's
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 4 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless, center-cut salmon fillets
  • olive oil
  • 1 lime, quartered, for serving
Directions
  • Step 1 Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  • Step 2 For the aioli, chop the garlic and chipotle pepper together on a cutting board to make a coarse paste. Place the paste in a food processor, add the lime juice and roasted red peppers, and purée. Add the mayonnaise,¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper and process until smooth. Set aside.
  • Step 3 For the salmon, place a large (12-inch), dry cast-iron skillet over high heat for 5 minutes. Place the salmon fillets on a board, pat dry with paper towels, and rub all over with olive oil. With the fillets rounded side up, sprinkle them with 1½ teaspoons salt and ¾ teaspoon black pepper.
  • Step 4 Place the salmon in the skillet rounded side down and cook over medium-high heat for exactly 2 minutes without moving! Using a large metal spatula, turn the fillets rounded side up and place the skillet in the oven. Roast for 3 to 4 minutes, until the centers are rare. Cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil and allow the salmon to rest for 3 to 4 minutes for medium-rare or 5 minutes for medium. Serve the salmon hot with the aioli and a wedge of lime for squeezing.

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