Food and Drink

Brighten up the salmon in your freezer with citrus, crisp radish and green herb sauce

As we head into February, a bowl of winter citrus on the kitchen counter seems to disappear faster than the afternoon light. Small, juicy clementines add heft to lunch bags, lemon curd tops yogurt and biscuits while fresh-squeezed blood orange goes straight into cocktails. The salmon in my freezer also gets new life with a supporting cast of bright citrus and crisp, colorful radishes, including watermelon, French breakfast or daikon. Sautéeing the radishes in golden brown butter coaxes out some of their natural sweetness and the fresh herb sauce brings it all together. Any extra sauce will easily brighten up everything from sandwiches and grilled meats to roasted or raw vegetables and omelets. And if you have any leftover salmon, toss with the herb sauce and some yogurt for a light and satisfying salmon salad or dip.

Pan-seared salmon with citrus, brown butter radishes and green herb sauce

Makes 4 servings

1 (one-pound) fillet wild Alaska salmon, preferably sockeye or king, cut into 4 fillets, pin bones removed (skin-on is fine)

1 ruby grapefruit; 1 to 2 oranges; 1 Meyer lemon, peel and pith removed; fruit cut into segments

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 bunch red or black radishes, trimmed and cut in half


Salt and freshly ground black or white pepper, to taste

About 1 tablespoon neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed or avocado

Herb-jalapeño sauce (recipe follows)

For the herb-jalapeño sauce:

3 bunches herbs: combination of fresh basil, cilantro, and mint or parsley

1 to 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

1 to 2 jalapeños or serrano chiles, stems removed, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or white wine or rice vinegar

About 1/3 cup good quality olive oil or grapeseed or avocado oil

1. Make herb-jalapeño sauce by combining herbs (reserve a few for garnish, if desired), garlic, jalapeño, cumin, coriander, salt, and lemon juice in the bowl of food processor; blend to combine (or crush with a mortar and pestle). Drizzle in oil until the sauce comes together. Taste and add more salt, garlic, or lemon juice, as needed. Sauce can be stored, in an airtight container, in refrigerator up to 5 days. Peel citrus and cut into segments, reserving juice with the segments in a bowl; set aside.

2. Make radishes and salmon: Place a large skillet over medium-high heat; add unsalted butter; let sizzle and foam, swirling pan, about 1 minute (do not let burn). Add radishes and season lightly with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes until radishes are just tender and browned and butter smells nutty. Reduce heat if butter begins to burn. Remove radishes from pan to serving platter or bowl.

3. Remove any radish bits from skillet but do not wipe out butter; set pan back over medium-high heat. Pat salmon fillets dry and season both sides lightly with salt and pepper. Add 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons oil to pan and when oil is hot place salmon fillets, skin-side down and cook, undisturbed, 3 minutes. Reduce heat slightly if oil is smoking. NOTE: You can keep cooking salmon, skin side down, or gently turn fillets over. Scatter cooked radishes around the fillets in the pan and let cook, another 2 to 3 minutes, or until fish is cooked to preferred doneness. Toss radishes and citrus segments together; serve with salmon and the herb sauce. Garnish, if desired, with fresh herbs.

Kim Sunée

Kim Sunée is a bestselling author ("Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home," "A Mouthful of Stars," "Everyday Korean: Fresh, Modern Recipes for Home Cooks") and a former magazine food editor. She's based in Anchorage. For more food and travel, visit