This is one for the quick–not to mention, healthful and delicious–weekday dinner repertoire. It is tres simple, and did I mention quick?? It’s a bit fancier than just seared or grilled fish… and for not much more work! The flavorful, crisp crust is a great way to keep the salmon from getting too dry, which is probably one of the biggest concerns for this type of fish. At our house, we travel the world throughout the week in different cuisines and don’t often replicate meals, but this one has earned its way into our rotation as a go-to recipe for salmon.
I prefer wild Alaskan King salmon for its fattier profile, but the Mr. did the shopping this time and purchased wild Sockeye salmon instead. (See how bright pink it is?) Because it is leaner, it also has a tendency to become overdone in a flash. Not to fear, that’s why we’re using this recipe. So, start with a beautiful, firm salmon fillet and cut into 4-6 oz portions.
In a small mixing bowl, prepare your crumb mixture with about 1 c of panko (Japanese bread flakes), chopped herbs like Italian parsley, tarragon, and chives, a minced garlic clove, zest of 1 lemon, 2 Tbsp of mayonnaise, 2 Tbsp of olive oil, 1 tsp of smoked paprika and black pepper. (Side note: If you don’t have one of these already, you MUST get one. They are great for zesting citrus as well as grating cheese, garlic, ginger, nutmeg and chocolate. Zesting and grating with it gives you a pleasurable, satisfying sensation, actually.)
(If you want, you can add chopped nuts of choice, too.) Mix until crumbs are evenly coated.
Heat your trusty cast iron skillet or heavy-bottomed, oven proof pan on medium high. Season your fillets with salt and pepper. Then press the panko mixture thickly on top of each salmon fillet.
(If you are really worried about the crust not adhering, you can always schmear some mustard on top first.) Drizzle some canola oil into your pan and carefully transfer the fillets into it, skin side down. Let the skin get nice and crispy for about 6-7 minutes while you turn on your broiler.
Cooking your salmon this way gives you nice, crispy skin that is pleasant to eat and keeps the fish from getting dry. You can see that the fish is getting cooked from the bottom up.
When it gets to this point, put the entire pan under the broiler for 2-3 minutes to finish cooking and get the crust golden brown. Keep an eye on it, especially those of you who burn toast… you know who you are. 😉
Serve with a wedge of lemon. A tangy, yogurt sauce would be lovely, too. You want the center to be slightly translucent and underdone–which, to me, is perfectly done.
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