When it comes to the crème de la crème of the culinary world, Chef Kevin Nashan sits atop of the mountain. Having worked in restaurants since he was child, Nashan's career is full of impressive accolades and of course, delicious cuisine.
Some of his more notable accomplishments include being named a James Beard Award winner for Best Chef: Midwest in 2017, cooking for former President Barack Obama, and competing on Esquire Network’s show, Knife Fight.
Additionally, Nashan owns two restaurants — Sidney Street Cafe and The Peacemaker. The Peacemaker, as per Nashan's bio:
"highlights the Acadian tie between Northeastern and Louisiana cuisines. The menu features creative interpretations of coastal favorites like lobster rolls, Po’boy sandwiches, steamed blue crab, seafood boils, chowders, gumbos, and seasonal pies."
We don't know about you guys, but we got hungry just reading that description!
Knowing all of this about Nashan, we thought who better than to teach y'all about how to properly prepare salmon? This man KNOWS his seafood, that's for sure. Fortunately, we were able to get ahold of Nashan for some helpful tips on everyone's favorite fish — salmon!
FHM: Briefly walk us through the Salmon prep process — what do you find to be the simplest/fastest method?
Kevin Nashan: When cooking at home, I prefer a skin-on fillet. The skin is delicious, and it offers a protective barrier so you don't overcook the fish. Score the skin with your knife so it won't shrivel up when cooking and so you can get even cooking.
I like to season the fish with sea salt and pepper right away, 5-10 minutes before messing with it in a pan.
Then I set up everything else I'll need: a sauté pan, preferably nonstick or cast-iron; grapeseed oil or other high flash point oil; an offset spatula to flip the fish; and a couple cubes of butter, a smashed garlic clove or two, and a spring of thyme or another herb for finishing, plus a spoon for basting.
I put the pan on high until it's almost smoking, then I turn down the heat just a little and add the grapeseed oil. Place the salmon skin-side down on the pan. The cooking time depends on the size of the fillet, but the best way to check the temperature is to use a cake tester: Poke the cake tester into the middle of fattest part of the fish. If it feels ice-cold , it's rare, coolish is medium-rare, and warm is medium. And if it's hot, you're screwed—it's well done. It's always better to be a little under than over in the cooking.
Time to flip. You should have a nice brown crust on the skin. The other side will not cook nearly as long. Just enough to get a little color. Then I take the garlic and thyme and throw it in—it will make a snap, crackle, pop--then the butter, then baste the fish with the garlic-thyme butter you just created. It will be bubbly and frothy and super aromatic.
Remove the salmon from the pan, and let it chill out on a plate for couple minutes while you clean up the pan.
FHM: What herbs/spices/marinates would you say pair best with salmon?
Kevin Nashan: The general rule is if you add too many other flavors, it masks the flavor of the fish. You want to taste salmon at the end of the day. But if you do want a sauce or relish on the side, consider something light, at Sidney Street, we'll sometimes serve salmon with a salsa verde.
FHM: Of course, sides are necessary with any meal. What side dishes complement salmon?
Kevin Nashan: I love roasted fingerling potatoes. Simply cut them in half, toss in fat and sea salt, and roast. Risotto is good choice, although slightly more time-consuming. If you're looking for a green vegetable, go for Brussels sprouts, roasted and caramelized in the oven.
FHM: There's a lot of debate over pairing seafood with dairy (specifically cheese). Any solid recipes that combine cheese and salmon, or is that a no go?
Kevin Nashan: Fish and cheese in the right context can be delicious. Smoked salmon and cream cheese is a classic pairing. I also like to pair fish with a chile relleno, which is stuffed with cheese and pan fried.
FHM: How long does salmon keep? Is it a suitable fish to heat and reheat multiple times?
Kevin Nashan: Not long. If it's raw and wrapped up in fridge, use within one to two days. After that, you could freeze it, but it's better to cook it. I hate freezing fish.
If it's cooked, you only get a day or two with it, too. You could do a breakfast hash with potatoes. You could flake it over a salad for lunch.
FHM: We've gotta ask about the booze-pairing — what sort of beer or white wine do you recommend along with a salmon dish?
Kevin Nashan: For wine, try a Sauvignon Blanc or Chablis. For beer, something lighter like a Belgian wit will complement.
Lead Image via Getty