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Monday, July 08, 2013

Bourbon Glazed Salmon Recipe

I like bourbon, but not whisky. I know, I know, bourbon IS whisky, but to me there's a big difference. American bourbon is smooth and sweet and has complex flavors that I enjoy in food--warm spices, fresh herbs, toasted nuts, all kinds of fruit, vanilla, coffee, toffee, chocolate, caramel and more. Whisky, is fire water. Though a fan of all whisky, Chef Michael Symon summed it up this way, "drinking whisky should be a massage, not a wax!"

Symon was in San Francisco to talk about bourbon and Knob Creek in particular, an award winning bourbon made in small batches. It's aged in very deeply charred oak barrels, and is bottled at 100 proof. It has a distinctive sweetness and big flavor. Symon told me he like the boldness of it, saying it goes great with the kinds of things he likes to cook.  "It's smoky, you can taste the age, like you can with a good salami. It has great depth of flavor, like wine and I appreciate what goes into making it--the 9 year aging process." Bourbon matches Symon's approach to cooking, "Things I like to cook take time and patience like charcuterie. Knob Creek is the charcuterie of the spirit world"

We talked a bit about using Knob Creek in cooking, he uses it in spicy glazes, with fruit like cherries, peaches or apples, and says it works equally well with pork or seafood. According to Symon, "It has complexity. I wouldn't use it with halibut but with salmon it holds up well--paired with mustard or maple, hard caramelized onions, anything sweet and smoky." 

Inspired by Michael Symon, I created this very simple but luscious recipe for salmon glazed with bourbon, maple syrup, brown sugar and soy sauce.

Bourbon Glazed Salmon 
4 servings


4 4-5 ounces pieces of wild salmon
2 Tablespoons bourbon, preferably Knob Creek
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1-2 drops liquid smoke, optional


Combine the bourbon, maple syrup, soy sauce and liquid smoke in a large zip top bag. Add the salmon to the bag and squeeze out as much air as you can, then seal it. Allow to marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Remove salmon from the marinade, pat it dry with paper towels and sear the salmon, skin side down in a very hot pan, such as cast iron for a couple minutes or until the skin is beginning to get crisp and no longer sticking to the bottom of the pan. Transfer salmon to the oven and cook until internal temperature reaches 120 degrees, the temperature will be higher by the time it reaches the table. The time will vary depending upon the thickness of the salmon filet or steak, but a rule of thumb is 10 minutes per inch thickness. 


Disclaimer: Knob Creek provided me with access to Michael Symon and a sample of their fine product.