During the summertime I try and eat as much salmon as humanly possible because it’s in season. It just so happens to be my favorite fish, and over the next couple of months, you can find it available almost anywhere. I do love a good piece of King Salmon with its thick buttery texture, but Coho or Sockeye seem to fill my heart with similar joy. Cooking salmon is a simple process, especially on the stove top in a non-stick skillet. If you’re an experienced cook, salmon can be cooked in an iron skillet, but you need to leave it alone to naturally release on its own, so there is no tearing during flipping. Grilling salmon outdoors is another art, and I highly recommend grilling fish on a wood plank because there’s no turning involved. I just love my recipe for Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon. It’s an oldie, but a goodie, and the wood creates a gentle smokiness, that you don’t get from the barbecue alone.
There are so many ways to enhance a good piece of salmon. For starters, a dash of smoked paprika over the top, adds a smoky flavor without overpowering the fish, while still allowing its fresh flavors to come through. Also, a good side dish like Israeli Couscous can bring even more magic to the plate. I enjoy couscous for many reasons – it’s quick and easy to prepare, and Israeli Couscous is more like small balls of pasta that have a nice chew, but don’t dominate the dish.
Don’t forget the sauce. Seafood tends to be better with some kind of topping, including herb oil, crushed nuts, chilies, or a Gremolata. A Gremolata is a mixture of herbs, garlic, lemon, anchovy and oil, either pureed or left chunky. I find it more than gratifying to splash it over this salmon dish because it brightens up the entire plate and brings it all together. Also, it’s very satisfying to use up some of those fresh herbs that are about to go bad in the refrigerator drawer.
1 cup fresh herbs, any combination of cilantro, basil, or parsley
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 anchovy filet
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Israeli couscous, any variety
3-4 salmon fillets, any variety
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
salt & pepper
olive oil for cooking
- In a food processor, add herbs, garlic, anchovy and lemon zest. Pulse several times until coarse. While processor is running, add olive oil until almost smooth. Pour into dish and set aside.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, add 2 teaspoons olive oil. Add couscous and stir. Toast couscous for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onion, pinch of salt and pepper, stir. Add 1 cup of hot water and turn heat to low. Cook couscous with lid ajar for 10 minutes. Remove lid and continue cooking until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat and cover with lid.
- Sprinkle fish with paprika, salt and pepper. In a skillet over medium heat, add 1 teaspoon olive oil. Place salmon face down and cook for 3 minutes. Flip fish over and continue to cook for 3-5 minutes, depending upon your liking.
- Spoon couscous on a platter and top with salmon. Spoon Gremolata over top of fish and couscous. Enjoy!