I am always looking for delicious yet undemanding ways to get salmon into the family diet. Salmon, along with so many fish, is bursting with nutrients and essential oils to keep our skin and bones healthy. Since no one in my family is about to swallow one of those torpedo-sized capsules of fish oil, I make sure fish is on the menu at least a few times a week.
Most salmon recipes play up the sweetness of the fish, often resulting in a cloying dish, but this straightforward preparation highlights the savory notes. It couldn’t be quicker and, because the salmon cooks up clean-tasting and crusty, I promise even your kids will love it. In fact, you’ll end up trying the crust on every fish you can find. Halibut, red snapper, cod and sole work beautifully. For thinner fillets, I recommend coating both sides with the porcini mixture.
There are a few tricks to cooking fish like a pro. The fish should be bone dry before cooking. Heat your pan over a high flame before adding the oil to maximize the sizzle on the fish’s surface. Don’t move the fish for the first minute or two of searing. When you can see a crust has formed underneath, flip the fish and finish cooking it in the oven (thinner fillets can finish on the stove). The goal is a fillet that is browned and crisp on top while tender and flaky inside.
Depending on how much time you have, serve the seared fish on a bed of Mushroom Quinoa Risotto, Spring Green Farro Risotto, Potato Zucchini-Latkes, or a simple salad…either with or without sauce (perfect for summer, try a dollop of Persian Cucumber Salad). Whatever you do, present the fish with accompaniments on the side (not on top), so everyone can admire your professional sear job.
4 (4- to 6-ounce) fillets wild salmon, boneless and skinless
1 cup dried porcini (or shiitake) mushrooms
1/2 cup homemade whole wheat bread crumbs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Place the dried mushrooms in a Vita-Mix small food processor or spice grinder and process to the consistency of coarse dust (you will get about 1/2 cup of mushroom powder). Combine the ground porcini and bread crumbs and place on a plate (set aside any extra porcini mixture in an air-tight container for the next time — it will hold for weeks).
2. Dry the salmon with paper towels. Season with salt and black pepper. Dip one side into the porcini-bread crumb mixture; repeat with all the fillets.
3. Heat an oven-proof skillet over a medium-high flame for 2 to 3 minutes until extremely hot. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the skillet. Add the salmon fillets to the pan and cook for about 2 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Carefully flip over the fillets in the pan, transfer to the oven, and continue to cook to desired doneness (about 5 to 6 minutes for medium). Serve immediately.
Before purchasing your fish, be sure to consult How to Store Fresh Fish.
What favorite salad would you serve with the salmon? Enter our May cooking contest and let us know!
Photo credit: aggieskitchen.blogspot.com