Humble alliums pair with two pantry staples for a tangy, crisp salsa that adds something special to perfectly broiled, 5-minute salmon.
My husband is an onion lover and has been known to eat this salsa by the spoonful. The rest of us aren’t so bold but absolutely enjoy how the salsa effortlessly elevates broiled salmon.
Equally tasty on grilled chicken, steak, or pork, the short list of very basic ingredients creates a surprisingly simple condiment, one that I think of when I see a particularly fresh bunch of scallions (or green onions as they are also called).
Fresh scallions are key here.
How do you know if scallions are fresh? Look at the root end. It should appear white. If it’s brown and shriveled, they are likely past their peak freshness. The darker green ends should also look healthy, as you will use them too.
Note that scallions that are past their prime won’t hurt you, but they often develop a slimy layer, which isn’t what we’re aiming for in the salsa!
The scallions pair with the slightly more pungent onion and a judicious amount of vinegar and honey – and salt and pepper – to round things out.
A white onion works especially well for this salsa. This variety, with its papery white skin, is a frequent choice for raw applications because it is slightly less pungent than the standard yellow onion. That said, I’ve used a sweet onion like a Vidalia or Walla Walla.
I’ve also made the salsa with a basic yellow onion on occasion, as well as a mix of yellow and red. As I type, I’m thinking an all red onion variation would be delicious on a burger.
Whichever way, the onions are soaked in ice water for 15 minutes, which mellows their flavor and adds a hint of crispness.
For those who enjoy the science, an onion’s pungent quality comes from its sulfur compounds, which are neutralized when the onion is cooked. A soak in ice water produces a similar effect because it dissipates many of those compounds.
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- 1 small white onion*, finely diced (~1 cup)
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
- Sea or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2½ teaspoons (17g) honey
- 1½ tablespoons (23ml) rice vinegar** (the kind with no added sugar)
For the salsa: Place the onions and scallions in a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes, give or take 5 minutes is fine. Drain well. I like to pat with a clean dish towel or paper towel to get rid of the excess moisture. Stir in the honey, vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste. Mix well and refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the salmon: Adjust the top rack of the oven so it is 6 inches from the element, and preheat the broiler (use high if you have a choice). Cover a baking sheet with foil. (Helpful hints: If the skin is still on the salmon and you prefer not to eat it, do not put any oil or cooking spray on the foil. When finished cooking, the skin will stick to the foil and you can scoop the fish right off with a spatula. If you wish to eat the skin, spray the foil. Do not use parchment as it will burn.)
Place the fillets on the foil, and brush with olive oil to lightly coat. Sprinkle tops and sides with sea salt and pepper, and then broil for 5-6 is using farmed Atlantic salmon and 4-5 if using leaner wild salmon like Sockeye or Coho. Time will vary slightly depending on thickness of fillet and how well done you prefer your salmon. Don’t hesitate to cut into a fillet and take a peek. Remember that the fish will continue to cook after being removed from the oven. Helpful hint: If the fillets are getting too dark on top (this could happen if your rack is closer than 6 inches to the element) but are not cooked to your liking, move the baking sheet down a rack and check after another minute or two.
Serve with Smashed Green Peas, if desired.
* White onions, which are widely available and have a papery skin, work well in raw applications. If you don’t have one, I recommend a sweet onion like a Vidalia. A red onion would likely work well in this salsa for use as a burger condiment.
** Rice vinegar is one of the mildest vinegars, and pairs well with the onions. For a bolder flavor, I’ve used apple cider vinegar. Any vinegar will work, the flavor will simply vary from one to the next.
Recipe first posted February 29, 2012…and a photo from way back then!