Published January 1, 2011.
Glazed salmon usually falls victim to the harsh heat of the broiler. We turned down the heat to bump up the flavor.
Most recipes require reaching into a broiling-hot oven every minute to baste the fish, only to end up with a burnt glaze and leathery, overcooked fish.
We wanted salmon that was succulent and pink throughout while keeping the slightly crusty, flavorful browned exterior commonly associated with broiling.
Because of the extreme heat, the broiler simply made it too hard to pinpoint the fish’s proper doneness. Reducing the temperature and gently baking the fish cooked the salmon perfectly.
In order to nicely brown the outer layer of the fillets without regressing to the tough, dry texture of the broiled recipes, we needed to rapidly caramelize the fillets before their exteriors had a chance to toughen. For that, we turned to one of the test kitchen’s favorite techniques: sprinkling the flesh with sugar and quickly pan searing each side. We used brown sugar (for its subtle molasses flavor) and seared the fillets golden brown before transferring them to the oven.
Finally, we tackled the glaze. Our teriyaki-inspired varnish brightened the rich, fatty salmon, but slid off in the oven, pooling in the bottom of the pan. Rather than tediously basting the fish, we decided to improve its “stickability.” Before searing, we rubbed the fish with a mixture of cornstarch, brown sugar, and salt. As we had hoped, the glaze clung during baking, resulting in a glistening, well-lacquered exterior.
With our glaze holding fast to the fillets, we whipped up three more variations: a fruity pomegranate version spiked with balsamic vinegar, an Asian barbecue mixture drawing sweetness from hoisin sauce and tartness from rice vinegar, and a salty, citrusy orange-miso version.list of recipes