The City Magazine Since 1975

Crispy Skin Salmon with Buttermilk Mint Sauce

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1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (from about 8 sprigs)
1/2 cup whole or low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
3 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 lb. skin-on salmon filet
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Gia’s Chili Oil

1 cup whole Tian Jin red chiles, available at H&L Asian Market (or cayenne-style whole red chiles)
1/2 cup red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups peanut oil (or canola oil)
1/2 cup olive oil


Place the mint, buttermilk, sour cream, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt in the bowl of a food processor or blender; process until thoroughly combined. 
Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Add two teaspoons of the olive oil to a large cast-iron skillet or broiler pan and place it under the broiler so that the bottom is about five inches from the heat source. 
Turn the broiler on.
Score the salmon skin crosswise in three places to roughly portion the fish into four pieces. 
Rub the remaining teaspoon of olive oil over the skin; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the black pepper.  
When the oil in the skillet begins to smoke, lay the fish skin-side up in the skillet. 
Broil the fish until the skin is blistered and charring, about 5 1/2 minutes for medium-rare. 
Cut the salmon along the scoring lines into four portions and serve it, skin-side up, with the sauce and Gia’s Chili Oil (see ingredients above, directions below).

Gia’s Chili Oil - Directions

Cook the whole chiles in the bottom of a heavy iron Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they begin to blacken in a few places and smell toasty. 
Immediately add the crushed chiles (they toast quickly). 
After a minute, add the peanut oil and cook it for five to 10 minutes, until the oil is stained red and is on the verge of smoking. 
Turn off the heat and allow the oil to cool in the pan for 20 minutes. 
Add the olive oil, stir, and transfer the oil and chiles into a jar. 
The chili oil may be used immediately, but it improves slightly with a 24-hour rest. 
It lasts up to six months in the pantry.