Crispy Salmon with Steamed Bok Choy and Basil-Caper Relish

The Food Lab

Unraveling the mysteries of home cooking through science.

Crispy Salmon with Steamed Bok Choy and Basil-Caper Relish

[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.

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  • Yield:serves 4
  • Active time: 30 minutes
  • Total time:30 minutes
  • Rated:

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained, rinsed, and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pitted kalamata or taggiasche olives
  • 1 small shallot, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 thai bird or serrano pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced
  • 3 anchovy filets, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 skin-on salmon filets, about 6 ounces each
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds baby bok choy, leaves cleaned and rinsed, but not dried

Directions

  1. 1.

    Combine capers, olives, shallots, peppers, basil, scallion, anchovy, honey, lemon juice, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Whisking constantly, add olive oil in a thin steady stream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside

  2. 2.

    Press salmon filets between paper towels to dry surfaces thoroughly. Season on all sides with salt and pepper.

  3. 3.

    Heat oil in a large stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Reduce heat to medium low, then add one salmon filet, skin-side-down. Press firmly in place with the back of the spatula for 10 seconds to prevent the skin from buckling. Add the remaining filets one at a time, pressing each on until they are all in the pan.

  4. 4.

    Cook, pressing gently on back of filets occasinally to ensure good contact with skin, until skin releases easily from pan, aboug 4 minutes. If skin shows resistance when attempting to lift a corner with the spatula, allow it to continue to cook until it lifts easily. Continue to cook until salmon registers 110°F (43°C) in the very center for rare, 120°F (49°C) for medium-rare, or 130°F (54°C) for medium, 5 to 7 minutes total.

  5. 5.

    Flip salmon filets and cook on second side for 15 seconds, then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Set aside.

  6. 6.

    Meanwhile, place bok choy on a large microwave-safe plate and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave on high power until just wilted, about 1 1/2 minutes. Carefully remove plastic (steam will burst out), season to taste with salt and pepper, then transfer to serving platter. Lay salmon on top skin side-up and spoon relish over the salmon. Serve immediately.