Pan-Seared Salmon with Pea Shoots and Watercress

Pan-Seared Salmon with Pea Shoots and Watercress

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 8

In this perfect spring salad, salmon and its pan juices become a topping for a tangle of sprightly greens dressed with a tangy lemon vinaigrette. Pea shoots, the clippings from young pea plants, have a mild pealike flavor. Look for them at well-stocked grocery stores, farmers’ markets or Asian markets-—or substitute additional watercress.


For the dressing:

  • 1/3 cup fresh Meyer lemon or regular lemon juice
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 8 salmon fillets, each about 1/3 lb. and 1/2 inch thick, pin bones removed
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 8 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 4 Tbs. water
  • 5 cups watercress leaves
  • 5 cups pea shoots


To make the dressing, in a large bowl, combine the lemon juice, shallots, salt and pepper and whisk until the salt dissolves. Let stand for 30 minutes to allow the shallot flavor to mellow. Add the olive oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly until the dressing is well blended. Set aside.

Meanwhile, sprinkle the salt in a wide, heavy fry pan and place over medium-high heat until nearly smoking. Add the salmon fillets and sear for 2 minutes. Turn the fish over and sear for 1 minute on the other side. Sprinkle with the pepper. Reduce the heat to low, then pour in the wine and 2 Tbs. of the lemon juice. Cover and cook until the juices are nearly absorbed and the fish is halfway cooked, about 3 minutes. Uncover and pour in 2 Tbs. of the lemon juice and 3 Tbs. of the water. Cover and cook just until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 3 minutes. Most of the pan juices will have been absorbed.

Whisk the dressing to recombine. Add the watercress and pea shoots to the dressing and toss gently to coat, then divide the greens among individual plates. Place a salmon fillet on each mound of greens.

Increase the heat under the fry pan to high, add the remaining 4 Tbs. lemon juice and 1 Tbs. water, and stir to scrape up any browned bits from the pan bottom. Pour the pan juices evenly over the fish and serve immediately. Serves 8.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Salad of the Day, by Georgeanne Brennan (Weldon Owen, 2012).

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