Relationships, they say, are all about compromise. You watch a movie you don’t particularly want to see, they go to a restaurant that wasn’t their first choice. There’s give, there’s take and then there are the lines you don’t cross, favors you don’t ask, and preferences you don’t question. While I do believe that a loving partnership should occasionally coax you and your partner out of your respective comfort zones, there are certain things that should remain comfortable. Bae’s dislike of seafood is one of those things. He just doesn’t like it and no amount of coaxing will change that. In fact, coaxing is more likely to annoy him and strengthen his resolve. Needless to say, I made today’s Honey Miso Salmon with Tahini Soba Salad for one.
Seafood: A Bridge Too Far
When I met Sunny, a.k.a. Bae, I was almost immediately informed of his aversion to seafood. I think the cause of the great seafood schism can be attributed to one suspect order of Sichuan shrimp he had in his youth. But for whatever reason, his palette grew to reject the flavor and smell of fish and shellfish. Did I do the grownup thing and respect his anti-seafood stance right from the get-go? Hell, no! I’m from the East Coast! You can’t be with me and not down a fish or two.
But it turns out you certainly can. I thought Sunny’s residual love of tuna fish sandwiches was a sign that that seafood-loving boy was still in there – dormant but ready to give Sichuan Shrimp another go. But I was wrong, he truly doesn’t like most fish or shellfish. His weird blind spot for tuna is just a personal quirk. And the peace he eventually made with mussels? Just a lucky break for me. So, I understand now, that loving his seafood-hating-heart is part of loving the whole Sunny package.
And on the flip-side, Sunny understands that loving a Nova Scotian girl means indulging her need for halibut, shrimp, and yes, salmon. And for him, that means tolerating the residual sites and smells associated with an enthusiastic seafood feed. Now, I mostly feed my need for fish when we’re enjoying a night on the town. You know, to spare the poor man the smell of fishy cooking. But every now and then a fish craving hits so hard and fast that it must be met head-on.
Honey Miso Salmon – A Solitary Indulgence?
Enter the Honey Miso Salmon Steak. I love frying up a salmon steak, not only because it’s a quality cut, but it’s also a generous single serving. There are no leftovers to account for because there’s never more than I can eat. But a steak also gives me a little more than some of the punier fillets I’ve seen. Really, a salmon steak is not all that different from its beef counterpart, which makes selecting both the picture-perfect solution to Sunny and I’s predicament. Sunny gets steak when I get salmon steak and we split the side – in this case, a tangle of Tahini Soba Salad.
The Honey Miso Salmon Steak may have top billing for this recipe post, but I think this Tahini Soba Salad steals the show. Laced with ribbons of pickled ginger, matchsticks of radish and slices of scallions, this salad is vibrant, refreshing, and spicy. The salad gets its name from the tahini base of its dressing, but it gets its kick from a teaspoon of wasabi. The wasabi also brings a bit of an herbal quality to the salad that is so pleasant that it makes you wonder why wasabi isn’t found in more salad dressing recipes.
The salmon steak itself requires little to no effort but an impeccable sense of timing. Just like a strip loin, a salmon steak’s texture will suffer if it’s left on the heat too long but the charr on its surface will suffer if it’s removed too quickly. And the timing of both has everything to do with the thickness of the steak itself, how hot your stove runs, and – most importantly – how you like your salmon. Unfortunately, the answers to these questions are wholly dependent on your tastes, equipment, and materials. I have approximations listed in the recipe below, but mostly you will have to listen to your gut.
And Finally, Shishitos For Flare
If there is a way to work a glut of blistered shishitos into a recipe, I will find it. At least in this instance, the shishitos aren’t completely out of left field. They actually work quite well as a companion to the Tahini Soba Salad. And I’ve always known these petite pimentas are a solid choice alongside salmon.
Now, I don’t feel like these shishitos warrant much of an explanation. It really is as simple as placing them in a large skillet. From there, it’s a case of patience. They don’t have to cook long, but they do need to be left to blister and if you’re an obsessive stirrer like me, you know how hard it is not to prod. But prod not and you will be rewarded with inviting blisters on your shishito peppers. This might be the first time the words “inviting” and “blisters” have been strung together in a sentence.
So, that’s everything you need to know about this Honey Miso Salmon with Tahini Soba Salad. You can scale this recipe up or down depending on how many are eating salmon. Or you can sub in a different piece of protein easily without feeling like a short-order cook.
Honey Miso Salmon Steaks with Tahini Soba Salad
Tahini Soba Salad
- 300g (10oz) dried soba noodles
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp tahini
- 1 tsp wasabi
- 1 tbsp honey
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 lime juiced
- 2 tbsp neutral oil I used canola
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 6 radishes julienne
- 3 scallions thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp pickled ginger chiffonade
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp black sesame seeds
Honey Miso Salmon
- 4 salmon steaks at least 1 ½ inch thick
- 2 tsp white miso
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 lime juiced, divided
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 227g (8oz) shishito peppers
- 1 batch Tahini Soba Salad see above
- 1 avocado
- 2 radishes julienned
- 2 scallions thinly sliced
- toasted sesame seeds for sprinkling
- black sesame seeds for sprinkling
For the Tahini Soba Salad
- Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until al dente, about 5-7 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
- While the noodles are cooking, make the dressing. Place the garlic, tahini, honey, and wasabi in a medium-sized bowl and whisk to form a paste. While whisking constantly, stream in the soy sauce, lime juice, neutral oil, and sesame oil. Set aside.
- Place the noodles in a large bowl and add the radish, pickled ginger, scallions, and sesame seeds. Pour the dressing over the noodles and toss to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the Honey Miso Salmon
- Pat the salmon steaks dry with paper towel. Place the steaks on a large platter and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- In a small bowl whisk to combine the miso, honey, soy sauce, and half of the lime juice. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the shishito peppers and saute until well blistered, about a minute or two per side. Transfer the peppers to a plate and sprinkle with salt and drizzle with the remaining lime juice. Place the plate in a 150°F oven until ready to serve.
- Return the skillet to the heat and add more oil if necessary. Once the skillet is quite hot add the salmon steaks. Sear the steaks for roughly 3-5 minutes a side depending on their thickness and the heat of your stovetop.
- Once the steaks are cooked on both sides, brush the side facing up with the miso honey mixture then flip. Let the salmon caramelize for 30 seconds while you brush the remaining sides with the honey miso mixture. Flip the salmon once again and caramelize the newly brushed sides for 30 seconds as well. Transfer the salmon steaks to a plate and set aside.
- Divide the Tahini Soba Salad amongst four plates and place a salmon steak on top of each salad. Top the plates with shishito peppers, radish, avocado, scallions, and sesame seeds. Serve immediately.