Scallion-and-ginger-crusted salmon

Scallion and ginger crusted salmon Scallion and ginger crusted Salmon Green onions

How do recipes become heirloom recipes? We all have our go-to meals that we cook over and over. Our families and friends love them even after having them a million times. We cooks like them because we have the recipes burnt into our brains. The grocery cart finds its way to the key ingredients in aisles 2, 3, and 8 with GPS-guided precision. And finally, we can put the whole thing together in minutes, for what is reliably a picture-perfect outcome. My scallion-and-ginger-crusted salmon is just such an heirloom recipe.

I have fond memories cooking this meal with good friends in Santa Barbara during my first year in the US. I’d had limited success convincing these American friends on the virtues of sauerkraut, dumplings and bratwurst. Nein!  So I brought out the ginger and scallions. This was twenty years ago and, at the time, ginger was still quite exotic. But I was taken by the sharp yet refreshing taste of the ginger root. Decades later I still roast salmon fillets with this marinade of ginger, scallions and garlic, enhanced all the more by soy sauce and olive oil.

The original recipe calls for marinating the fish for about 30 minutes with all these ingredients. That gives you a very intense soy and garlic flavor—an overwhelming taste that maybe feels a little too low-budget-Thai for me. I prefer to top the fillets with the marinade and broil them right away. You’ll want to turn the broiler to its highest setting, and place the top of the fish 4 inches from the coils. The ginger-scallion mixture will thereby brown and cook nicely, while not overcooking the salmon. I measure the temperature of the salmon and pull out the pan when it reaches 110 degrees.

Fresh snap peas are a perfect complement to this fish, and only require a few minutes to prepare. While keeping one eye on the salmon, follow the recipe below. The only problem? These peas are really good—like me, you’ll end up wishing you’d prepared more than 5 pieces per plate….

Guten Appetit!

Scallion-and-ginger-crusted salmon
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 4 to 5 oz thick salmon fillet per person (4 oz seems to be the portion preferred by skinny New Yorkers), so 1 to 1.5 lb for 4 eaters
  • 1 bunch of scallions, neatly chopped
  • 2 oz of ginger
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb of fresh snap peas
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter
  1. Put your broiler on high
  2. By hand or in a mini food processor, finely chop the garlic and the ginger
  3. Mix with the sliced scallions, add soy sauce and olive oil
  4. Season, but be careful with salt as the soy sauce typically has adequate sodium (like, enough to make your arteries explode). But add some pepper
  5. Remove the skin from the salmon fillets and arrange on a baking sheet
  6. Top generously with your marinade
  7. Broil until the top is nicely browned and cooked, and the inside of the salmon reaches 110 degrees
  8. While the salmon is broiling, heat your sauté pan with the butter and a couple tablespoons of water. Sauté the peas over medium to medium-hot heat. They cook in just a few minutes: if you time it right, the water will have evaporated right as the peas are done. By this method, they will retain a little bit of crunchiness. Season with salt and pepper
  9. Plate and serve all this fabulousness right away

Scallion and ginger crusted salmon Salmon roasting in the oven Scallion and ginger crusted salmon

Pan-roasted cod with radish juice and potato puree

Pan-roasted cod with Radish Juice and Potato Puree Pan roasted cod and Radish Juice

It’s not every day that the humble radish, which just happens to be sprouting in my vegetable garden this week, gets the royal treatment. Loved by some but disliked by many, the radish often exists most comfortably in the neglected corners of a crudités plate. But today we’re making it the hero of our dish: it serves not only as the vegetable of this meal but its juice will further function as a light yet super delicious sauce that will absolutely transform today’s catch, a sautéed cod fillet.

When cooked, the radish reveals its identity as part of the cabbage family. But observe the power of the chef: all bitterness and sharpness is gone as soon as it meets the heat of the pan. A warm, delicate and unique flavor develops, not unlike that of a very young turnip (the tiniest of a German gene in you will provide at least some appreciation for turnips; for everyone else, just trust me on this). On top of this special flavor, in conjunction with the cod, the dish could not be healthier. That is, on the condition that you eat only a tiny nibble of the prescribed serving of its side dish, a sinfully voluptuous potato puree.

I buy thick cod fillets whenever I see a fresh delivery in the cooler of my fish monger. The next time you do the same, please try your hand at this pan-roasted cod with radish juice and potato puree.

A few notes before the detailed recipe: First, the mild flavor of cod makes it a delicate fish, and if you overcook it it will disintegrate into white flaky mess. So carefully place the filets with their good side (the side you will present to your guest) into the hot pan and leave them there for a few minutes. Be patient: don’t move them, don’t shake the pan, don’t poke. After 3 to 4 minutes they should have developed a nice crust and you can turn them. But you only get to turn the fish once, so don’t make you move too early.

Now regarding our friend the radish. Once sliced, you are going to blanch them for 30 seconds in boiling, salted water, which to us cooking pros is known as “to anglaise” them. Then, by immediately “shocking” them in ice water, you’ll stop the cooking, which both removes the raw, sharp flavor, and preserves the color. You now have something like a very elegant, young turnip but dressed in a sexy red cocktail skirt.

But it’s the Barbie pink radish juice that is the unexpected highlight of this dish. The limitation here is that its dazzling color—which we loooove—can be ephemeral (that is, fleeting) during the cooking-and-plating process, and will change to a less appetizing grey color if you are not quick on your feet. So be prepared to make the entire process move at a brisk pace. Juicing the radishes, as called by the recipe, must be a last-minute affair. Then, bringing this juice to a boil (see recipe) should be accomplished within a couple of minutes. Once you add butter and season with salt and pepper—Boom!—your sauce is ready and you are nearly ready to serve. Plating and serving promptly will preserve the dazzling color and guarantee the fawning of your dinner guests.

And finally, about our potato puree. Cod and potatoes just like each other. Your favorite potato puree recipe will work great here. I simply rice some cooked Idaho potatoes and add fat-free milk plus a few tablespoons of butter to create a fluffy, smooth, heavenly puree. Steamed potatoes would also work fine here.

I owe this recipe to one of my favorite chefs, Jean-George Vongerichten. He published it in his first, now out of print, cookbook, Simple Cuisine.

Radish prep DSC01004

Pan-roasted cod with radish juice and potato puree
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Simple, elegant, easy, and fast to prepare. This cod will be the dazzling star of your dinner party. It exemplifies the grace and style I seek for all the entries of MyNewYorkKitchen
  • 4 oz thick cod fillet per person (1.5 lb for 4)
  • 5 bunches of radishes
  • chives, beautifully chopped for presentation
  • 2 tbsp butter (for sauce) + a little extra to reheat the radish coins
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • grapeseed oil or peanut oil
  1. Prepare the cod filets for sautéing: lightly flour, season with salt and pepper.
  2. Cut 15-20 of the most beautiful radishes into slices. Blanch for 30 seconds in salted boiling water, then "shock" them in ice water, drain and set aside.
  3. When you are ready to serve, things happen in parallel and very quickly:
  4. Heat the pan for the fish with a film of oil. Begin sautéing the cod over medium to medium-high heat.
  5. While the fish are sautéing, juice the remaining radishes with your trusty electric juicer. You are aiming to have to 2 cups of fragrant, super-pink juice.
  6. In a pot, quickly bring the radish juice to a boil, then incorporate the butter and season with salt and pepper.
  7. As soon as the cod has gained a beautiful lightly brown crust, flip and turn heat to low in order to cook the fish gently through; stop when it reaches 110 degrees.
  8. Reheat the radish coins with a little bit of butter, just to warm them up (radish and butter is one of those flavor combos that the food gods approve of).
  9. Place the finished fish on plates, arrange the radish slices (see below), pour on the radish juice, and sprinkle with chives.

Once the fish is done, the assembly should be quick. To plate, I like to arrange the radish coins on the fillets to mimic the scales of a fish. You can be less creative (or is it anal?) and instead whimsically sprinkle across your plate. But then you’d be missing out on something fun. So go… creative (just be quick about it!).

Also, I like to warm my plates, so my friends get to enjoy the trifecta of flavors piping hot.

For me this dish is a perfect threesome of flavors. Cod, potato and radish (today’s hero!), all work so well together.

Guten Appetit!


Pan-roasted Red Snapper with Lemongrass-Shallot Sauce and Peas—the Healthy Way


Here’s a perfect—and healthy—weeknight dinner. The sauce will take about 20 minutes (so long as you are a good chopper). You’ll need 5 to 8 minutes to pan-roast the fish. In parallel you’ll anglaise the peas. So in under 30 minutes you’ll be sitting at the dinner table.

The sauce is what makes this meal a true winner. The lemongrass adds a wonderful perfume, nicely balanced by the acidity of the wine and sour cream. The original recipe called for some heavy cream, but at the last minute I substituted the cream with non-fat sour cream and the results worked beautifully. The resulting reduced calorie count puts this dinner in the healthy category (although the Speedo test is still far off). Here is want you need to make snapper for two:

3 to 4 oz of red snapper fillet per person (I bought a single big fillet)
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

1 clove of garlic, finely diced (about a tablespoon)
2 stems of lemon grass, core finely diced (about a tablespoon)
1 small shallot, finely diced (about two tablespoons)
2 tablespoons of butter
1/3 cup of non-fat sour cream
1/2 cup clam juice
2/3 cup of dry wine (I love Gruener Veltiner for this)

1.5 to 2 cups of frozen peas
5 stems of mint, leaves cut into a chiffonade (roll like a cigar and then cut in thin strips)
Salt and pepper

Boil the peas in a salted pot of water for 3 minutes. Cool in ice water to set the green color; drain in collander.

For the sauce: in the butter and at medium heat, sauté the diced garlic, lemon grass, and shallots, being careful not to brown them. This should only take a few minutes. Add the wine and the clam juice and, at high heat, reduce until you have about 1/3 cup of liquid. Puree this in a blender with the non-fat sour cream and then return to the cleanly-wiped sauce pan. Salt and pepper to taste and keep warm.

Pan-sear the seasoned red snapper fillets in a hot pan with the grapeseed oil. I really like to sauté fish with this oil, because it is tasteless and has a high smoke point. This means you’ll be tasting the nicely browned delicious fish and not burned oil.

While sautéing the fish, I reheat the peas with a tiny bit of butter.

Assemble your plates using the sliced mint leaves. See pictures above for a suggested presentation.

Enjoy your light and healthy spring dinner!

p.s. The February 2014 Food and Wine featured the fat- and calorie-rich version of this recipe which also looks really good. And hey, Speedo season’s still a long way off.

Pan-roasted Flounder with Edamame and Red Bell Pepper

More healthy food: local flounder with edamame and a red bell pepper oil.