Chili-Lime Caramel Glazed Salmon
Chili-lime caramel glazed salmon is an incredibly delicious and easy dinner. This process for cooking salmon is also really adaptable - feel free to mix it up with different seasonings!
Note: I use skinless salmon for this recipe because that's what's usually the best deal at Costco, but this can easily be done with skin-on for a delicious crispy skin.
Here's how to make it:
1) Bring your salmon to room temperature and salt it. I use a Himalayan salt block to season salmon and it is an absolute game-changer. The salt (whether you sprinkle it on or use a block) brings out some of the water from the salmon, which helps develop a good crust when you sear it. I salt mine for about 15 minutes on each side. If you sprinkle salt on it, you can sprinkle both sides and let it sit for 15 minutes.
2) Heat a skillet on medium. I learned from Jeremy Scheck that it's way more efficient to heat a skillet on medium over a longer amount of time than to crank it up to high - this reduces potential for smoke alarms going off.
3) Dry your salmon with a paper towel. Rub a small amount of oil onto your salmon. Use an oil with a high smoke point, like avocado oil. Putting the oil directly onto the salmon further reduces the smoke alarm potential, because there isn't extra oil laying around in the pan and burning. This is a good strategy for steak, too.
4) Put a drop of water in your heated skillet. If it sizzles and evaporates quickly, the pan is hot enough. If it doesn't, wait a little longer and try again. Once the pan is hot, lay the salmon in the pan.
5) Sear the salmon until it is cooked through, flipping halfway. The exact time will depend on the thickness of your fish. The FDA recommends an internal temperature of 145 for salmon. However, salmon is delicious a little rare and it will continue cooking from residual heat as it rests. There are also differences between wild vs. farmed salmon due to different levels of fat content. I'm not going to recommend a temperature here because I don't want to be sued, but hopefully the information I have provided is helpful as you make your own decisions pertaining to the temperature of your salmon.
Note: If you are using skin-on salmon, sear the salmon with the skin side down first until it is almost entirely done, and then flip it just to get a quick sear on the top.
6) Remove the salmon from the skillet and set under foil to rest.
7) Let the skillet cool down a little bit. If there is a lot of grease in the pan, pour it out into the trash. Add a knob of butter to the pan and let it melt over low heat.
8) In a small bowl, whisk together a tablespoon of minced garlic, the juice from half a lime, a pinch of sugar, a pinch of salt, and 1-2 tablespoons of honey. Taste the mixture and adjust the salt, lime juice, and honey until it tastes good. For this recipe, I added a few shakes of Tajin chili-lime seasoning to the sauce. (Keep in mind that Tajin has some salt in it, so don't over-salt the mixture before you add it.)
A delicious adaptation would be to take it in a Vietnamese direction and add fish sauce instead of Tajin. This would emulate nước chấm, a delicious Vietnamese dipping sauce that also has a lime/sugar base.
9) Add the garlic lime mixture to the melted butter and turn up the heat. Stir occasionally as it heats up. Let it boil for a few minutes until it thickens. It should look a little like caramel and be sticky.
10) Drizzle the chili-lime caramel sauce over the salmon. Top with pickled jalapeños and serve.