Gochugaru Salmon With Crispy Rice
Gochugaru, a gentle and aromatic red pepper powder, adds a captivating twist to this speedy salmon dinner. A staple in Korean cuisine, gochugaru demonstrates that certain chili varieties offer spiciness and a delightful fruity sweetness. This quality truly shines through this recipe as it melds with maple syrup, vinegar, and butter. If you appreciate visually appealing dishes, you'll find immense joy observing this pan sauce as it transforms into a glossy, crimson glaze.Aim for long center-cut salmon fillets for optimal results to ensure even thickness and consistent cooking; the crispy skin pairs beautifully with white rice, which absorbs the savory flavors from the salmon's rendered fat. To counterbalance the richness of the fish, consider serving it alongside fresh and crunchy accompaniments such as cucumbers, pickles, or a generous green salad.
- 4 salmon fillets 6 ounces each, with skin on
- Kosher salt like Diamond Crystal and black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cups of cooked white rice preferably leftover
- 4 teaspoons of gochugaru refer to Tip
- 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter, kept whole
- Optional: Sliced cucumbers or pickles for serving
- Begin by generously seasoning the salmon on all sides with salt and pepper. Next, heat a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and carefully place the salmon fillets, skin side down, into the hot skillet. Allow them to sear until the skin becomes browned and crisped, usually taking 2 to 5 minutes. As the heat gradually moves up the sides of the fish, you'll notice the salmon's orange flesh turning a pale coral color. You'll want this coral color to extend about two-thirds of the fillet at this stage, achieving a nice medium-rare doneness. Gently flip the salmon and cook the second side until the flesh feels firm, typically taking another 1 to 2 minutes. To check doneness, press the salmon gently; it should not feel wobbly. Once done, transfer the salmon to a plate with the skin side down and leave the skillet with the rendered fat on the heat.
- Now, add the cooked rice to the pan with the rendered fat, spreading it evenly and pressing it down, like creating a rice pancake. Reduce the heat to medium and let it cook until the bottom becomes lightly browned and toasted, which should take approximately 5 minutes—you'll hear the delightful crackling sounds as it cooks. Flip the rice over like you would flip a pancake, using a spatula if necessary. It might not flip all in one piece, but that's perfectly fine. Continue cooking until the second side of the rice is lightly toasted as well, typically an additional 1 to 2 minutes. If you prefer crispier rice, you can extend the cooking time, but the delightful combination of crisp, chewy, and tender textures is a real treat.
- While the rice is busy cooking, take a small bowl and combine the gochugaru, maple syrup, rice vinegar, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Once the rice is perfectly done, distribute it evenly among the plates. Now, in the same pan, you used for the rice (which is now empty), pour in the gochugaru mixture. Over medium-high heat, stir it continuously until it bubbles up and significantly reduces in volume. This should take anywhere from 15 seconds to 1 minute, and the mixture should take on a lovely sticky consistency. Turn off the heat and introduce the cold butter, stirring diligently with a wooden spoon or tongs until the butter is fully melted and well incorporated into the gochugaru mixture. Pour this delectable glaze over the salmon and, if desired, serve with cucumbers or pickles.
Gochugaru, also known as red pepper powder, is readily available in Korean or Asian supermarkets, and it can also be found at most regular grocery stores and online retailers. It is occasionally sold in larger quantities, which isn't an issue as it freezes exceptionally well and adds a beautiful flavor boost when sprinkled over a wide range of dishes.