Seared Salmon Fillets with Cilantro Pesto
An Asian-inspired pesto made with cilantro, basil, garlic, ginger and jalapeño adds a delicious blend of bold, fresh flavors to simple, pan-seared salmon fillets. Serve it with a side of steamed rice, orzo or couscous to be sure you soak up every drop of the sauce!
- 4 (6 ounce) salmon fillets, skin on
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Vegetable oil
- 4 lime wedges (optional)
For the cilantro pesto:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1-1/2 tablespoons fish (or soy) sauce
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, halved lengthwise
- Chunk of peeled, fresh ginger (about 1-inch diameter, 1/4-inch thick)
- 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped
- 1 scallion, roughly chopped
- 3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, tightly packed
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
- Arrange the salmon fillets, skin side down on a plate, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Prepare the pesto by adding the vegetable oil, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, garlic, ginger, jalapeño and scallion to a blender or the work bowl of a food processor.
- Process until finely chopped, then add the cilantro and basil and process again until smooth.
- Note: You may need to add a little water if you feel the sauce is too thick.
- Taste and adjust the flavor to your liking by adding a touch more fish sauce, lime juice or sugar. Transfer to a serving bowl and set aside (makes about 1/2 cup).
- Preheat a heavy skillet (nonstick or well-seasoned cast iron) over medium-high heat. Film the bottom with a small amount of oil and add the salmon, skin side down. Cook without moving until the skin is nicely seared and releases easily, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Carefully turn the fillets with tongs (you can easily remove the skin at this point if desired) and continue cooking to desired doneness, 2 to 3 minutes additional.
- Transfer the salmon to a platter and spoon a little of the pesto on top. Pass the remaining pesto at the table and serve with steamed rice and a side dish like our Asian-Style Sautéed Spinach.