A salmon caught high in the freshwater streams of the mountains bears within its pink flesh the flavors of faraway places in the Pacific Ocean, a rosy imprint of the long voyage back to its birthplace. These fish see a lot of things below the ocean depths. And then they eat them. Salmon deserve a suitably thoughtful and voracious treatment in the kitchen.
Iburi-Jio Cherry, a smoked sea salt from Japan, has endured a journey comparable to that of the salmon. Artisanal salt makers plumb seawater off the coast of the Oga Peninsula, drawing a pristine brine up from the pure, deepwater currents. After concentrating the brine, they heat it over a wood fire over three days, stirring constantly to produce a salt that is the texture of powder snow. This salt is then gently cold smoked over cherry wood for a sweet, smoky, bacony aroma that is unrivaled in the culinary world.
The combination of deep sea minerals, cherry wood smoke, and buttery salmon takes your taste buds on peregrinations through flavor’s most unfathomed depths.
Makes 6 servings
1 side of salmon, preferably wild, about 2 pounds, bones removed
¼ cup black sesame seeds
¼ cup white sesame seeds
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Finely grated zest and juice of a lime
1 teaspoon dark toasted sesame oil
½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper, or ¼ teaspoon crushed chilies
3 big pinches Iburi-Jio Cherry smoked salt
Coat the flesh-side of the salmon with the sesame seeds and pat gently into the surface.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Carefully put the salmon in the pan flesh-side down and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Turn carefully and cook until the fish is firm but still translucent in the center, 4 to 5 minutes more.
While the salmon is cooking, combine the lime zest, lime juice, sesame oil and Aleppo pepper in a small bowl.
Using a wide spatula or two spatulas, transfer the fish to a serving platter. Drizzle with the lime mixture and scatter the salt over all. Serve immediately. If you need to delay serving, wait until the last second to salt. You want the delicate crystals of the Iburi-Jio to barely dissolve at first bite.