Brown Butter, Maple-Glazed Garlic, Chilli and Ginger Salmon
A tender salmon fillet with a sticky maple, garlic, chilli and ginger glaze. This dish is sweet, spicy, nutty and full of flavour but best of all, it comes together in under 20 minutes!
As you will soon be able to tell, I am a huge seafood fan - with salmon being a particular favourite of mine. I've also been obsessing over brown butter lately so I obviously had to find a way of combining the two! It compliments the maple syrup really well and adds a very subtle nutty dimension to the dish, which gives the salmon a whole lot more flavour.
Serve alongside some vegetables and rice or quinoa and you have yourself a tasty, wholesome meal that comes together so easily and so quickly!
Let's talk ingredients
Salmon is a fish that we all know is high in essential omega-3s and omega-6, but did you know that the nutrient composition actually differs quite significantly between farmed salmon and wild-caught salmon? This is something worth looking out for when choosing your salmon and let me explain why.
Farmed salmon (which is typically paler and light pink in colour) are bred in fish farms, meaning they are generally fed processed, high-fat and high-protein foods, as this allows fish farmers to produce larger-sized fish at a high density (1). Consequently, farmed salmon tend to be more prone to infections and in order to try and combat this issue, antibiotics are added to their food, which can then be carried through to us in small traces. This can cause gut inflammation, which actually counteracts the true value of oily fish as it should be anti-inflammatory.
Wild-caught salmon (which is typically vibrant and more red-orange in colour) are caught in their natural habitats such as oceans, rivers and lakes, hence their diets consist purely of natural organisms found in their surrounding environments. They tend to be far happier and healthier than farmed fish and also have a stronger and fresher flavour.
As a result, farmed salmon tends to be higher in calories, fat and saturated fat, whilst wild salmon is higher in minerals such as potassium, zinc and iron. For instance, a 1/2 fillet of farmed salmon contains 412 calories, 27g of fat and 6 grams of saturated fat, whereas a 1/2 fillet of wild-caught salmon contains 281 calories, 13g of fat and 1.9g of saturated fat (2).
Please note that this is not to say that farmed salmon is not healthy. It still contains a high amount of omegas and is considered safe to eat, there are just more health benefits to wild-caught salmon.
The tamari sauce is used in this recipe to make it gluten-free, however, soy sauce can be used if you're not gluten-free (I recommend dark soy sauce).
Another great substitute to both of these sauces is coconut aminos. If you're not familiar with this, it's a natural gluten-free liquid that derives from the fermented sap of coconut palm and sea salt. It tastes very similar to soy sauce and is a great alternative for those who are coeliac or sensitive to soy.
Browning the butter
Browning the butter is key to unlocking that extra depth of flavour in this dish so I don't recommend skipping out on this step but in order to actually brown the butter, it must be done correctly!
Some important notes for browning the butter for this recipe:
Do not add the butter to a pre-heated pan. Place the butter in the pan and then over a medium heat
A stainless steel skillet is best to use if you have one as it allows you to clearly monitor the butter and prevent it from burning (and it also cooks the salmon really nicely). If you don't have one, a light coloured pan will be absolutely fine and if you don't have one of these, just keep a very close eye on the butter and perhaps use a spoon to monitor its colour
Butter can burn very quickly so it's important that you add the rest of the ingredients at the right time to avoid this (this is listed in the method)
Use unsalted butter if you can as it will foam less and the dish will already contain enough salt from the tamari/soy sauce/coconut aminos
Ensure you are continuously stirring the butter to promote even cooking
Cooking the salmon
Pat the salmon fillets down with some kitchen towel before cooking to ensure they are dry. This will help prevent them from sticking to the pan and it will also make the skin nice and crispy
Season the salmon with salt, pepper and Chinese Five Spice before adding to the pan
If you're keeping the skin on, place the fillets skin-side down into the pan
Brown Butter, Maple-Glazed Garlic, Chilli and Ginger Salmon
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
2 wild-caught salmon fillets
Chinese Five Spice
60g unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
2 tbsp tamari sauce, soy sauce or coconut aminos
1 tsp sherry vinegar, or rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
Squeeze of lemon
1 sprig chopped parsley
1. Season your salmon fillets with a little salt, pepper and Chinese five spice and leave to rest for a few minutes.
2. Add the butter to a frying pan and set the heat to medium. Once a layer of foam begins to appear, gently swirl the butter around the pan to allow it to cook evenly. As the foam begins to subside, reduce the heat slightly and add the garlic, ginger and chilli. Stir and let infuse into the butter for about 30 seconds.
3. Add in the rest of the ingredients, apart from the salmon, and stir for another 30 seconds to a minute.
4. Place the salmon fillets into the pan and let cook for around 4-5 minutes on one side (depending on their size, this may need more/less time), ensuring you are continuously spooning the sauce mixture over them so they absorb as much of it as possible. Using a spatula, carefully flip the fillets over and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until cooked through. At this point your sauce should be pretty thick and glossy and it should have a subtle nutty aroma.
5. Remove from the heat and garnish with parsley and spring onions and enjoy!
I served my salmon with pak choi and long-stem broccoli that I stir fried in a little sesame oil with tamari sauce, garlic, chilli flakes and sesame seeds.
I hope you love this recipe!