Monday, November 17, 2008


Yum yum yum. This recipe, from Recipezaar via Ezra Pound Cake, is a simple treatment for salmon that packs a big whallop. The brown sugar creates an irresistible crispy, caramelized crust, while the onion powder, lemon pepper, and pepper balance it out with a savory edge. The seasonings don’t overwhelm the flavor of the salmon, but they do permeate the fish a lot more than some other salmon recipes I’ve tried. That plus the bold flavors and candy-like appeal make this is a great way to tempt fish-phobes (or the fish-reluctant, like me) into eating salmon for dinner.

The only reason I wasn’t completely head over heels is that I feel like I overcooked my fish a little, and the result was a tad dry. I blame myself; I halved the recipe and thus probably should have shortened the cooking time more than I did, plus things got a little confused because I was roasting squash in the oven at the same time. I’ll certainly be trying this again. I love lemon and pepper nearly as much as I love brown sugar, and am grateful to this recipe for finally giving me a reason to buy the bottle of lemon pepper with built-in grinder that has always tempted me on the shelves at Trader Joe’s. I actually ended up using a bit more lemon pepper and black pepper than the recipe called for, and I was not sorry.

This was my first time trying frozen wild Alaskan salmon from Whole Foods. It was so much fresher than the non-frozen farmed salmon we’ve been getting from Trader Joe’s, and the 12-ounce package was exactly the size I needed for a half-recipe. My only trouble was in defrosting the fish. I followed the directions on the package to let it sit in the fridge for 6 to 8 hours, but when I removed the fish to cook it, there was still a thin shell of ice on it. The middle of the fish was soft, but I had to crack away the icy coating with my fingers, and the fish was still so cold that it solidified the melted butter when I brushed it on. Next time, more defrosting!

One other note: Melted, burnt sugar makes a big mess, so use an old baking sheet and be sure to coat it with foil. Even after a thorough greasing, my salmon stuck to the foil—which actually ended up working in our favor, because when I pulled the fish away, it conveniently left its skin behind!

1½ pounds boneless salmon fillets
3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Combine the brown sugar, onion powder, lemon pepper, and pepper in a small bowl and mix well.

3. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly grease it.

4. Pat the salmon fillets dry, place them on the baking sheet, and brush them with melted butter. Sprinkle the seasonings over the salmon and press down gently so they adhere.

5. Bake for 20–25 minutes.

Serves: 4
Time: 35 minutes
Leftover potential: Unknown, since I made a half-recipe. Generally, though, I don't like leftover fish, and I don't think the crustiness of the sugar coating--one of the main selling points of this recipe--would hold up particularly well on reheating.

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