A few weeks back, after the wonderful Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, I was invited to speak at Ultimate Spider-Man/Avengers/Powers writer Brian Michael Bendis’ class on Comic Book Storytelling in Portland. So after the show, Brian, David “Kabuki” Mack and I piled into his SUV and headed for Oregon, along with Daredevil/Spider-Woman artist Alex Maleev whose flight had been cancelled thanks to the hurricane-like weather back East that Sunday. We arrived at Brian’s house three hours later, after a quick stop to pick up Voodoo Doughnuts, tired and hungry after the trip. However, as the Bendis family had just moved in, the kitchen hadn’t been stocked yet and there wasn’t much to eat. But luckily Brian had taken advantage of ECCC’s proximity to the Pike Place Fish Market and stocked up on some super fresh seafood earlier that day. Once Alex saw the fresh Pacific Northwest salmon, he called dibs and dived into making us a simple dinner with the fresh-caught fish. What he did was so quick and so easy, but came out tasting so delicious that I burned his quick recipe into my brain and have already used it a few times since my return to NYC, much to the delight of my wife who agrees that it’s simply fantastic. Here’s what he did…
Alex put a cast iron skillet on the stove on high heat, and at the same time started preheating the oven to 400 degrees.
He then took the salmon, skinned it, cut the fish into long, thick strips, I’d say 2” x 2” x 6” pieces, and then removed any remaining bones.
He then placed these salmon filets in a large mixing bowl, covered them generously with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled them with salt. In this case, it was a Fleur de Sel with a hint of saffron as that’s what was handy. (He explained he normally used only unflavored salts at home.)
Alex then dropped the oil and salt covered salmon into the now super hot skillet, instantly searing the salmon. Using tongs, he turned each piece so each side quickly browned.
After all four sides were seared, but leaving the salmon still red in the middle, trapping in the flavor, Alex removed the skillet from the stove top and placed it in the 400 degree oven.
He let it cook there for three or minutes, eyeballing it the whole time to make sure it was baking to his liking. And when Alex felt it was ready, out it came and went right on to a plate for serving.
No sauce or seasoning.
And it was just perfect.
See, I told you it was simple!
Alex explained that he usually would add a fair amount of shaved fennel on top of the fish before he placed it in the oven, along with a few fennel seeds, which I later tried and can attest that the fennel did indeed enhance the flavor of the dish. I also tried it once with salt laced with white truffle and that was quite tasty too.
While we all felt bad that Alex’s flight had been cancelled, after eating his salmon, we were glad he’d gotten grounded in Portland for the night!