If you love sweet and savory flavors together, then apricot garlic butter salmon might just become your next go-to meal this Summer. Salmon is a good choice because it’s fatty and will remain juicy, but so is milder arctic char or even steelhead trout. Traditionally we use a fish called snoek in South Africa, a kind of mackerel from the cold waters surrounding the Western Cape. Pairing fish or other meats with stone fruit in recipes is very common because the Western Cape is also considered the agricultural hub of South Africa. Smaller towns are often surrounded by deciduous fruit farms and vineyards, so it only makes sense to use what’s available and this has been the way of life for generations. Many of my favorite South African meals are ones that contain fruit as an ingredient…Bobotie, Cape Malay Chicken Curry, Malva Pudding.
Ideally, this fish would be cooked over a fire outside for it to get that lovely smoked flavor and to allow the apricot preserves to caramelize. If you prefer, cook it over a wood fire (medium coals) in a grill basket and use the sauce to baste. On Friday’s we would sit around a fire while my uncle prepared a whole fish this way, singing songs as he carefully crafted his signature dish. This fish is delicious served simply with steamed haricots verts and boiled fingerlings. If you’re following a ketogenic way of eating, use sugar-free apricot preserves and replace the fingerling potatoes with roasted radish or a crunchy salad.
Apricot & Garlic Butter Salmon
Makes 6 servings
1 1/2 lb side of salmon, scaled and bones removed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic paste (or 2 cloves fresh garlic cloves, finely minced)
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon smooth apricot preserves
1 tablespoon malt vinegar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1. Preheat oven to roast at 375F. Line a 17 1/2 x 12 1/2 -inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place salmon on parchment paper, skin side down. Season with salt and pepper.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together garlic paste, melted butter, apricot preserves, vinegar and red pepper flakes until smooth. Use a pastry brush to spread this mixture evenly onto the salmon.
4. Place salmon in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Turn the oven to broil and cook for another 5 minutes or until slightly caramelized on top. Remove from oven, carefully lift from parchment paper and serve warm. Sometimes I like to toss my boiled potatoes in the juices remaining on the sheet pan and broil them gently for 5 minutes for extra flavor.