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Friday, February 22, 2013

Citrus Herb Crusted Salmon

I cannot believe I haven't posted this salmon recipe yet.  Hands-down.. this is one of my best and favorite recipes.  

It is so good that when I go out to eat, I am never tempted to order salmon.. as every time I have since making it this way.. I am disappointed.  

I got the original recipe from a Williams-Sonoma catalog sometime around 1995.  I think most of the money I have made in my life went to Williams-Sonoma which guaranteed a steady supply of catalogs at the house and the best part were the recipes mixed in with the goods they were selling. This was one of those.  And I have made it so much, I don't have it written down anymore.  It's something that you can change the measurements, nothing so precious.. doesn't have to be exact.   And did I mention, it's easy? Yep, takes very little time. 

Crispy skin and fish not overcooked, not dried out.  Major delish. 

Some Recipe notes/tips:  
I prefer using Alaskan wild  or farm certified organic salmon. I love sock-eye, which is pictured above. I also prefer to buy a thicker filet than what is shown above.. asking for the thickest piece available.. 1-2" thick.  This recipe is for a filet about 1lb or around 8" in length and 1-2" thick.    

The Citrus. The choice should be to use organic, as you are using the zest only and don't want a sprayed fruit which can alter the flavor and your health.  I have used orange and lime when I didn't have a lemon.. and it was fine.. but the lemon + lime combo is best.

The Herbs.  If you have more parsley than basil or vice versa.. it really doesn't matter.. the outcome will still be yummy, as long as you have a good crust across the whole fillet. 

The Salt.   Please use kosher salt.  I think it makes this recipe. Kosher salt has a softer flavor and the larger pieces work so well here.. for a salty crust. It's readily available near the other salt at supermarket.. I use Morton's and it comes in a blue box. Other sea salts or larger flakes would work well, too. 

Cook on a hot grill, grill pan or cast iron pan.  Above salmon was cooked in a cast iron pan.  Cook skin side down 1st (lightly oiled just as not to stick) to guarantee crispy skin! Don't move the fish around.. let the fish skin cook and crisp and when it is done it will release from the pan.  Health note:  Eating the skin is so good for you, but I can only enjoy it when it is crispy. Health benefits...  it contains collagen, protein and omega 3 fatty acids.  There also is a layer of fat just under the skin which is the main source of the omega-3s.  So, leave the skin on when you cook it, never remove it before. If you don't want to eat it, discard after cooking.. and that way the layer of fat that has the omega-3s will be intact. 

And lastly, and most importantly.. don't overcook!  Salmon is best when just barely cooked, in my opinion.   I don't like it rare.. but just slightly more cooked.  I guess I should disclose here that I also enjoy sushi.. so, cook yours how you like it and feel comfortable with. My feeling is that fresh fish is destroyed by overcooking and most people do.  Cooking the skin crispy, when you flip it.. 3 minutes more is about all you need depending on the thickness of the fish, that will keep it moist and not dry.  To see, make a slice in the middle and see if more opaque.  I always find that cooking this way, you will have the ends and sides that are more well done for those who want that and the center, more rare. Like cooking a steak.

Citrus Herb Crusted Salmon

around 1lb filet of salmon (about 8" length)

In a small bowl combine:  

   zest of 2 lemons and limes, careful not to get any pith (the white part)
   3-4 cloves of garlic, minced (or more!)
   handful of fresh parsley and basil, chopped (enough to equal at least a cup or more chopped [loosely packed] see pic above.. you want a thick herb/citrus crust)
   1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. black pepper or to taste
   Olive oil .. just enough to wet and make like a paste
Spread on fish herb paste evenly (not the skin side)
Heat pan or grill hot and place fish skin side down til skin is crisp.. about 3-4 minutes. then flip.
Some of the marinade will come off but most will stay. Cook til done, about another 3-4 minutes.  The center will should be just becoming opaque. Make a small cut in the center, pulling open to check. 
Both sides should cook within 7-8 minutes. 
Don't overcook. 
And don't worry about the crust getting dark, it kinda crunches up in part and the flavor is amaze! 

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