I wish I could sit you down at my kitchen table and eat this one with you because the deliciousness is too much to handle on my own.
As someone who has been pescetarian for the last couple of years, I’ve done my fair share of fish cooking – and over-cooking. Of all the kinds I enjoy (which is pretty much all of them), salmon reigns supreme in my books. The vibrant colour, the rich taste, the flaky flesh and the bazillion ways to dress it up – my love runs deep. In fact, in a recent conversation with a friend about what our last meal would be, a massive bit of grilled wild salmon was on my menu.
As I said, there have been plenty of over-cooked salmon dinners that have come out of my kitchen and every time, it’s been my impatience that has managed to get the best of me. That temptation to crank up the heat in the oven way too high because I was hungry, followed by somehow becoming distracted and overcooking the fish. And while the end result is never bad (salmon has this inherent magic about it that seems to make it impossible to render completely inedible), my various experiences have helped me come up with 3 simple tips to ensure perfect roasted salmon every time.
Tip 1: Pick a wild one.
All the cooking tricks under the sun won’t matter as much if you start with a sub-par piece of salmon, so when it comes to shopping, look for a wild-caught fillet. When you compare a wild-caught piece to a farmed bit of salmon, you’ll notice the flesh of the wild-caught one has a more vibrant pigment. This is due to the fish’s diet, and a farmed salmon typically has more pale flesh because it’s been dining on less nutrient-dense fish feed.
Tip 2: Choose a fillet with even thickness.
You might not always have perfectly uniform pieces of salmon to choose from, but finding ones that have relatively even thickness throughout helps to ensure even cooking. If you can, opt for a center cut rather than tail because these pieces contain more of the lovely healthy fats available in salmon. This means more flavour and a lower likelihood to become dry while cooking.
Tip 3: Resist the temptation to overcook.
The fish I’ve got for you in today’s Pistachio-Herb Crusted Salmon recipe is roasted in the oven as opposed to seared on the stove, and the general recommendation across a number of cookbooks and resources I turn to for kitchen advice (like The Kitchn) is to roast at 425F for approximately 6 minutes per 1/2 inch of fish thickness. This is measured at the thickest part of the fillet, so for a 1″ thick fillet, you’d be looking at 12 minutes. Maybe 1-2 mins more if you want to be really sure. ?
So, about that recipe. This Pistachio Crusted Salmon is definitely not a first-timer in my meal rotation. In fact, it’s one from wayyyyy back in the Eat Spin Run Repeat archives that was in desperate need of improvement and new photos. After sitting down to enjoy it on Monday night, the main thought in my mind (aside from how great it tasted) was “why don’t I make this more often???” Healthy, filling, and ready in less than 30 minutes are 3 of my weeknight dinner criteria and it ticks all those boxes.
Pistachio Herb Crusted Salmon
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 12-15 mins
Ingredients (2 servings)
- 2 skin-on wild-caught salmon fillets, about 170g each and 1″ thick
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup pistachio pieces, made by pulsing shelled pistachios in a food processor
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 tbsp freshly minced parsley
- dash of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 425F. Set a rack in the middle of the oven and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a blender or food processor, pulse the pistachios for about 10 seconds until they look like crumbs.
Add the parsley, garlic, sea salt and black pepper. Whirl it all together once more for a couple of seconds to combine.
Pour the pistachio mixture onto a dinner plate and spread it around in an even layer.
Brush the salmon fillets with the olive oil, then press them into the pistachio mixture to coat the top side.
Place the salmon fillets on the parchment paper, skin side down. If you have some leftover, press some of the remaining pistachio bits into the fish.
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until salmon is cooked through. (Generally speaking, it takes 6 minutes per 1/2″, measured at the thickest part of the fish). Serve immediately.
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Now it’s over to you. Tell me, do you have any salmon cooking secrets or tricks? Do share!