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Austin Food Bytes – Keep it Simple With Salmon

As the temperature rises, I find myself craving lighter fare. Gone are the cold evenings when meat and potatoes are what I desire, the impending hot months make me think of fresher, lighter meals, especially in the evenings. One of my favorite weekend dinners is salmon.

Salmon is a fattier fish with a distinctive, delicate, rich flavor. It pairs will with citrus, herbs, even salsas. I have two ways I like to prepare it that are fast, easy and fool-proof. My favorite salmon can be purchased at Central Market it’s organic, farm-raised Atlantic salmon from Scotland. It usually runs about $13.99 per pound, mid-range for fillets (steaks are cheaper). These recipes have several elements that can be changed substituted or adapted to your tastes. The only constants are the methods of preparation and the cooking times.

Seared Salmon
Scant 1 lb. salmon fillet, skin and bones removed, cut into 2 pieces.
Salt and pepper
Oil for searing

1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 orange, 3 limes
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425°. Whisk together olive oil, juice, cilantro, and onion. Salt and pepper to taste. Reserve 1/4 cup for dressing. You may run it through the blender if you want a smooth sauce. Let fish sit in the remainder of marinade for about 30 minutes (alternatively, you can also buy pre-marinated fillets at some stores). Remove the fish from the marinade, salt and pepper on both sides. Heat 1-2 Tbs. of oil in frying pan until very hot. Sear salmon pieces on both sides, about a minute each. Place in baking dish and bake for 6-8 minutes. Six minutes will result in fish that is rare in the middle, eight minutes will be cooked through. I prefer my salmon medium-rare.

Serve salmon with reserved marinade, salsa, or sauce of choice.

*You may substitute any type of oil in the marinade, any fresh herb, and any combination of juice. If you use citrus, do not allow the fish to sit for too long, as it will be cooked by the acids.

Baked Salmon
Scant 1 lb. salmon fillet, skin and bones removed, cut into 2 pieces.
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 1/2 Tbs. mayonnaise
1 1/2 Tbs. milk
2 Tbs. curry powder*
1 Tbs. butter, cut into pieces
Salt and pepper
Lemon wedges

Preheat the oven to 425°. Combine breadcrumbs with 1 Tbs. curry powder and spread on a dinner plate. Whisk together the milk, mayo, and 1 Tbs. of the curry powder. Salt and pepper to taste. Soak the salmon in the milk mixture, then transfer to the plate and roll in breadcrumbs until coated on all sides. Place in baking dish. Dot with butter. Bake salmon for 13 minutes for medium-rare, 15 minutes for cooked through. Serve with lemon wedges.

*You may use any spice mix in place of the curry powder. Also, Central Market offers different types of crusts in lieu of normal breadcrumbs, including pepita (pumpkin seed), pecan, and macadamia nut crusts. All are mixed with Panko, a Japanese style-breadcrumb and highly spiced. The nut crusts are oily, so you probably don’t need the butter if you use them.

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