One of the most awesome surprises of this holiday season for me (and there have been a few), was the discovery of the secret relationship between salmon and bourbon. I'm pretty sure they've been carrying on for years, and if I had really been paying attention I would have discovered this so much sooner. But I am not going to bemoan the lost time; no, I'm just going to revel in this discovery because this is quite possibly the best way to eat salmon yet.
It took a little sleuthing on my part to figure it out, but my first clue was a recipe I had on file for a brown sugar bourbon sauce for salmon that on the face of things, seemed potentially delicious. But the outcome, while disappointing, held a hint of promise, so not to be deterred, I soldiered on.
Let's skip to the juicy culmination of several attempts to combine bourbon with just the right ingredients to create the perfect sauce and marinade for our salmon. I mean, it's the holidays, isn't everything supposed to be soaked in alcohol in some form or another? (rhetorical question, but the answer is yes). So what I ultimately ended up with was a scandalously delicious coupling of bourbon, maple syrup, Dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar. Nuff sed, huh?
But I found it wasn't enough to just create some beautiful flavors, no sir. Our cooking method had to make those flavors shine, so at this point I completely abandoned the aforementioned recipe and got down to pan searing and reducing and oven roasting. And by the time I was finished, our little salmon fillet was ready for the big time. Oh, baby. She's sweet, she's a little tart, she's boozy, and I'd say just about perfect. Here's the recipe...
Bourbon Maple Salmon
I have calculated the marinade and sauce to be enough for 2 or 3 salmon fillets. It's easy enough to double or triple the recipe if serving more. We love this with jasmine rice to soak up a little of that lovely bourbon sauce.
2 or 3 7-ounce skinless salmon filets
For the Marinade and Sauce:
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup real maple syrup
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
2 or 3 green onions, chopped
Cooked Jasmine rice
Whisk together the marinade ingredients and pour into a ziploc bag. Add the salmon filets and turn the bag over a few times to distribute the marinade around the salmon and place in the refrigerator. Marinate the salmon for at least 30 minutes, but no longer than a couple of hours.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
Spray a nonstick, oven-proof skillet with a little cooking spray and then heat over medium high heat.
Remove the salmon from the bag and reserve the marinade.
Place the salmon fillets in the skillet for 2 minutes and then turn the fillets. Let them cook another 2 minutes and then place the skillet in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, as the salmon is cooking, pour the marinade into a shallow pan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the marinade simmer for about 10 minutes or until it has reduced by about 1/4 and is starting to thicken. Remove from the heat and let it sit until the salmon is finished cooking.
To serve, pour the reduced sauce over each salmon fillet and top with a sprinkling of chopped green onions. This goes really well with jasmine rice to soak up some of the bourbon sauce.