If you want fresh and flavorful, Cast Iron Salmon with Creamy Schug should be on your dinner menu! Using a cast iron skillet makes the salmon nice and crispy on the outside and super juicy on the inside. The sauce is a pretty traditional schug sauce that’s mixed with coconut milk to make it creamy, a bit more mellow and a little sweet. It pairs so well with the salmon!
The Creamy Schug sauce reminds me of a green curry but it’s definitely missing some key ingredients that would make it a curry. I love eating salmon with fresh ingredients whether it’s mixed in a salad, has tons of fresh herbs or has a fresh ingredient sauce like the Creamy Schug.
What is Schug?
Schug is a sauce loaded with herbs, spices, garlic and jalapenos. It is of Middle Eastern origin and is a very popular condiment. It can be spelled zhug or s’hug as well. This particular schug is a green schug and it contains jalapenos, cilantro, parsley, garlic, salt, cardamom, cumin, caraway seeds, lemon juice and olive oil. It is extremely delicious and honestly I’d put it on just about anything!
I love schug on chicken shawarma and I use it on my Eggplant Shawarma! It’s perfectly spicy, garlicky and super fresh. A warning though, if you don’t like spicy either tone down the amount of peppers or use a sweeter pepper. It’s not traditionally mixed with coconut milk but it does make for a delicious sauce and tones down the spiciness a bit.
I originally read up on schug on Tori Avey’s Schug blog post. For more info, check out her post! https://toriavey.com/toris-kitchen/schug/
What kind of salmon to buy
FRESH salmon is what kind of salmon you should buy. When it comes to fish, fresh is best. Find a local grocery store that you can trust and purchase the salmon there. Usually I buy Atlantic salmon that has already been cut into fillets, about 6-7oz each. If you prefer King or Sockeye salmon then use what you prefer.
If you’ve never bough fresh salmon before there are a couple things you want to look for. Make sure the salmon looks and smells fresh. Don’t be afraid to smell the salmon before you buy it. I do it all the time! There’s nothing worse than coming home and opening a package of rotten fish. It should smell like the ocean or the water, not fishy and not foul.
The flesh should be an reddish orange. Make sure the salmon is not slimy and doesn’t have a milky look to it. It should also be slightly firm, if they salmon is mushy stay away.
Ingredients for Cast Iron Salmon with Creamy Schug
- Fresh Salmon
- Fresh Jalapenos
- Garlic Cloves
- Caraway Seed
- Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper
- Olive Oil
- Brown Sugar
- Lemon Juice
- Coconut Milk
Tips for the best Salmon with Creamy Schug
- Use the freshest salmon available to you
- Use high heat and let the cast iron warm up for 3-4 minutes before adding any oil. Getting the skillet extremely hot will ensure a crisp outer crust
- Once you add oil to the skillet, let it stand about 15 seconds before adding the salmon
- After placing the salmon in the cast iron skillet DO NOT MOVE it until it’s time to flip it over. Moving the salmon around will ruin the sear
- Cook the salmon for 3 minutes per side to cook to medium
- Make a little extra schug and keep it the rest of the week to add on other dishes for some additional spice
- The schug can be made up to 7 days in advance. Add the coconut milk right before adding it to the salmon
How to cook salmon in a cast iron skillet
Cooking salmon in a cast iron skillet is one of my favorite ways of preparing salmon. Cast iron gives the salmon such a nice crisp crust. You’ll want to heat the skillet over high heat for 3-4 minutes until the entire skillet is very hot. Add the oil to the pan then wait another 30 seconds for the oil to heat.
Season one side of the salmon then place the salmon seasoned side down into the cast iron skillet. It’s very important not to move the salmon after placing it in the skillet. After placing the salmon in the pan then season the side that is face up. Sear the salmon for 3 minutes until you have a nice crisp crust.
Turn the salmon over and sear the second side for an additional 3 minutes. 3 minutes per side will cook the salmon to medium, depending on the thickness. Use a digital meat thermometer to take the temperature. You’re looking for an internal temp of 135°F. This is how you sear salmon in a cast iron skillet and get a beautiful crispy crust.
Cast Iron Salmon with Creamy Schug
- food processor
Making the Creamy Schug
- 3 fresh jalapenos tops cut off, seeds left in
- 1 cup fresh cilantro bottom inch of stems ripped off
- 1 cup fresh parsley bottom inch of stems ripped off
- 1 clove garlic peeled
- ½ tsp caraway seeds toasted
- ½ tsp cumin
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ⅛ tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tbsp lemon juice fresh squeezed
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 13.5 oz coconut milk in a can
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
For the Salmon
- 4-7 oz salmon fillets
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
Making the schug
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and put the caraway seeds on a baking sheet
- Toast the caraway seeds in the oven for 3 minutes
- Cut the tops off the jalapenos and place them in the food processor with the cilantro, parsley, garlic, caraway seeds, cumin, salt, cardamom, lemon juice and olive oil
- Blend on low until well combined but still a little chunky. About 20 seconds
- Pour the schug into a medium sized sauce pot and add the coconut milk and brown sugar. Heat until it comes to a simmer then turn off immediately
Searing the salmon
- Heat your cast iron skillet over high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the olive oil and let sit for 15 seconds
- Season the salmon and place the seasoned side down into the pan, do not move it. Season the side that is facing up
- After 3 minutes flip the salmon over. Sear for an additional 3 minutes then add the creamy schug into the pan and serve immediately. Enjoy!