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Pan-Seared Salmon with Lemon Dill Sauce

January 16, 2013

Salmon with Dill Sauce

The annual children’s museum new year’s eve party had reached its climactic point when everyone shuffled their way to the atrium for the midnight (really 8 p.m.) “balloon drop.” After self-delegating myself to stand guard of our beastly double-stroller, I watched as my husband and children were swallowed into the crowd. A few minutes passed before I could see them on the other side of the transparent wall. Our eyes met, but the movement of their lips towards me were completely silenced by the wall that divided us. I stilled myself to take it all in. Their emotion-filled expressions, their hand-holding, their excitement for life, and reckless abandon to dance and jump at the thrill of something beautiful without even the tiniest ounce of care for whom might be watching them. In fact, the absence of embarrassment was filled with pride and the hope that they could look up between their joyous, celebratory jumps and see the eyes of their mother and father watching and sharing in their delight. We did.

How to cook salmon

Salmon, pan-seared salmon

In that moment, as the countdown began, I embraced a new year of adventure with my loved ones. I recognized that despite any goals I may set for myself, I ultimately do not have control over the universe. I permitted God’s guidance in a world of uncertainties. I gave thanks for a warm home, a consistent income, and boutiful food that meets our table. I dedicated another year of living with intention and to stewarding my resources even better than the year before–with experience comes wisdom and the ability to improve.

I have learned with five children at home not to overwhelm myself with concrete goals that will easily frustrate me when I see my lack of accomplishment due to the every day thwartings of motherhood. Rather to embrace it as an adventure and see the beauty in the moment at hand, whether it is my children dancing gleefully at 2,000 ballons tapping their heads and bursting at their feet, or it is comforting the smallest of humans because of their own life’s growing pains, or making my house a place of respite from the bustle of the world outside of its walls, or deliberately ignoring the pile of dishes to linger over a glass of wine with my spouse. I suppose an entire life-time mathematically is the addition of millions and billions of these moments, and ultimately with the next one never being a gaurantee. No pressure.

How to cook Salmon

How to cook salmon

Some things are ever progressing and never reflect a final result. Raising a family is one of those things. The development of a child is so subtle and discreet that often its progress is unrecognizable. It takes strength deep within me to remember this when evaluating the lack of check marks on my to-do list.  Measuring the goal of parenthood against other goals in my life can be hazardous to the health of my perspective. So for now, I am dedicated to my goals but with loose and forgiving strongholds. Amongst those goals is the intentional effort of maintaining balance in our home–trimming the fat on our schedules, so to speak. Upsetting the equilibrium in our home to “hit” a goal is certainly not in the best interest of myself or any of the poor souls I live with. God bless them for tolerating me some days!


Pan-Seared Salmon

I am also commited to another year of intentional cooking. Including every facet of it, from food knowledge, to meal planning, to grocery shopping, to preparation, and finally (yes!) to consumption. I promise to share what I learn along the way. Starting with this pan-seared salmon that my 3 year old claimed was the “best pink chicken” she ever had. I tried my best to explain to her that it was salmon, but now she just thinks that the chicken’s name was Salmon. I need to work on that. And clearly, I need to serve fish more often in my house. It is pricier for a larger family, but I have learned that smaller portions of more satisfying foods fit the bill (literally) the same.

Lemon Dill Sauce

Lemon Dill Sauce

Pan-seared salmon results in a crisp exterior and tender, moist center that fork-flakes off of the skin. The dill sauce is infused with the smell and bite of lemon juice, making it a refreshing partner to the warm fish. You can serve it on a bed of couscous, quinoa, or greens with the dill sauce easily doubling as a dressing.

Happy 2013! Hope your year is filled with inspiration, healthy perspective, and balance…and, of course, good food!


Pan-Seared Salmon with Lemon Dill Sauce

 Included is my recipe for garlicky parsley coucous, but it would be just as well to serve it with quinoa or greens, using the lemon dill sauce as a double for salad dressing.

Serves 6


2-2.5 pounds (1-1.1 kilos) fresh salmon filets with skin on
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper

1. Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet (or other large skillet) to medium heat. Lay out salmon filets, pat them dry, and brush generously with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Once skillet is hot, lay filets in skillet skin side up for 3 minutes or until golden brown. Flip salmon over and allow to cook for 3-5 more minutes (depending on how thick the filets are). The filets are done when inside temperature reaches  135 degrees in the thickest part, or when separated with a fork a small ribbon of raw pink remains.

2. Remove filets from skillet and let rest for 5 minutes before serving; this allows the salmon to finish cooking through without overcooking in the skillet.

Note: It is important to brush the filets with oil, rather than heating the oil in the pan, so the oil does not burn before the salmon has seared properly.

Lemon Dill sauce:

1 cup (240 ml) plain non-fat yogurt
½ cup (120 ml) reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons scallions, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/3 cup chopped dill
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients and puree for 5-10 seconds until all of the ingredients come together and no large chunks remain. Do not over-puree; you still want to see flecks of the herbs in the sauce.

Garlic Parsley Couscous (not gluten-free)

2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup shallots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 ½ cups (360 ml) chicken stock
2 cups (170 grams / 6 ozs) whole wheat couscous
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
2/3 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1. In a large sauce pan, drizzle in olive oil and set to medium heat. Add shallots and cook until translucent and tender. Then, add garlic and cook for another minute. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add couscous, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and cover with lid for 5 minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed.
2. Fluff couscous with a fork, gently folding in flat-leaf parsley and taste for seasoning. Serve immediately.


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