06 August 2013

Spicy Pomegranate Salmon

Sometimes there are things in life that just seem to good to be true.  A front row parking space any sporting event, an unexpected register discount at a blowout sale and double yolk eggs are just a few things that set my heart a flutter in ways that I cannot begin to express.  But for Northwestern natives, nothing beats an amazing deal on fresh salmon.  This week our local market is having a preposterously gargantuan sale on Sockeye.  Two days into the week, we've already gone through one pound and are going back for a second.  With so many ways to prepare this delicious fish, I am perfectly content to continue eating it until we have both grown gills.  Grilled, broiled, baked or breaded....any way you fix it, this fish is amazing.  But have you ever tried it in a spicy pomegranate sauce?  Oh, be still my heart.

Ever since my first pomegranate reduction, we have been buying bottles of Pom on a practically bi-weekly basis.  This is pretty impressive considering we're not juice drinkers.  Whatever we don't cook with over the week ends up in a fresh pom-mosa on Friday night.  With either a delicious dish or bang-a-rang cocktail as a guaranteed result, it's a win-win situation.  I've made hot pomegranate Grape Nuts, cold chicken salads and pretty much everything in between.  I scoured the internet in search of any recipe calling for pomegranate juice, sampling both winners and losers (link deliberately omitted).  After all, I'm an equal opportunity taster.  One dish that really stuck with me was this recipe for amazing chicken wings.  And when I say stuck, I mean literally.  This sticky Asian-inspired pomegranate sauce was all over my fingers and face by the time the hubs and I finished dinner.  After all, I am a front-runner in the World's Messiest Eater Competition.  Take that, Miss America.

This recipe is a fabulous spin-off of Jessica's original dish.  She's the Colonel, and I'm the little Lieutenant happily tweaking away to my wildest foodie dreams.  I've drastically reduced the sugar and chili sauce, but kept all that fiery spice with an abundance of red chili flakes.   The result is amazing on chicken, shrimp or....wait for it....salmon.  After all, this is a post about salmon, right?

Salmon is the perfect fish with this sauce.  It has a great firm texture that stands up to being cooked in liquid without becoming a sad little squish-fish.  And while a lighter fish like tilapia would completely lose its flavor, the strong flavor profile of salmon is able to pull through the sweet and spicy sauce.  The result is a wonderful combination of flavors that is delicious enough to be served plain and hearty enough to place atop a bed of salad or wild rice.  In these pictures we're chowing down with sweet potato fries, which are also wonderful in the sauce.

Since it's summer, we like to do this on the grill.  I am a huge fan of making little disposable rimmed baking pans out of tin foil...talk about easy clean-up!  But in the cooler months, you could absolutely bake this on a regular baking pan in the oven (350 degrees for about 18-20 minutes).  This would be an excellent alternative to ham at a holiday dinner with the sauces rich and fruity undertones.  But whatever the season, this is sure to be a hit with any of your seafood-loving friends.

Spicy Pomegranate Salmon (4 servings)

  • 1 lb fresh salmon, with skin
  • 3 tbs sweet chili sauce
  • 1/2 c pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 c rice wine vinegar (white wine vinegar works, too)
  • 1 1/2 tbs brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbs reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbs lime juice
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 - 1/3 tsp red chili flakes
Lay the salmon skin side down on a piece of tin foil with a two-inch boarder around the edge.  Remove any excess scales and bones.  Fold the edges of the tin foil in towards the fish two or three times to create a rimmed baking sheet.  Set aside.

In a small pot, combine the sweet chili sauce, pomegranate juice, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, lime juice, garlic and chili flakes.  Whisk together, then transfer to a burner.  Turn heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then reduce to medium.  Simmer for about 5-8 minutes until sauce has reduced by about a third.  

While the sauce reduces, pre-heat your grill over medium heat to 350 degrees, then reduce heat to keep between 350-400.  Place the foil baking sheet over indirect heat either an upper rack or on the unlit half of the cooking surface.  Pour half of the sauce over the fish and close the grill.  Cook 12-18 minutes until the fish is flakey and semi-firm, opening occasionally to spoon the sauce over the fish (cook time will vary based on the thickness of the salmon).  Remove foil baking sheet by sliding onto a cutting board. 

While the fish cooks, place the remaining sauce back on the burner and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook until the sauce has reduced again by half and has a thick, syrupy consistency.

Cut the salmon into serving portions with a spatula.  Gently lift the cooked fish of the skin and transfer to a plate.  Top with the reduced sauce and serve.  

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