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 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.

Winter Cocktail Party with Friends

Cocktail Party: Last night I hosted a group of friends for cocktails, of course we had to prepare some snacks.  We ended up having a very good time drinking (see the sad left over above..) and eating away the Chicken Liver Pate, Soup of fresh peas with mint, spiced pecan nuts, and Parmesan Crisp with a Goat Cheese Mousse. More detail on each of the appetizers in future posts.

Hope this gives you ideas for the big Sunday Party…

Friday night dinner: local Black Fish, which has a delicate texture and delicious mild flavor. Pan-seared filets with sesame-soy noodles and garden peas.