Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Salmon Baked on (inspired by one baked in) Aromatic Salt

If you read my Vegas Uncork'd recap, you heard me raving about the fish baked in an aromatic salt crust as demonstrated by Chef Paul Bartolotta at the All-Star Interactive Luncheon, held at the Wynn/Encore.

It was truly amazing, and I will be showing that ancient seafood technique sometime in the future on Food Wishes. While I didn't go for the full fish-baked-in-salt thing here, Chef Bartolotta's recipe reminded me of a salmon dish Michele used to make for me years ago.

Thick center-cut salmon filets, skin-on, are simply placed over coarse salt, which has been liberally studded with aromatic spices, such as cinnamon, clove and star anise. As the salmon bakes on the heat absorbing and distributing salt, the aromas from the spices subtly permeate the fish.

As you'll see in the video, this is so easy and makes for a pretty impressive presentation for a dinner party. You can bring the salmon, still sitting on the aromatic salt, out to the table to serve. You can even dress up the salt more creatively than I've done here, as almost any dried herb or spice is a candidate.

This is a fun technique to play around with and see if you can come up with your own signature blend. I really hope you give it a try. Enjoy!




Ingredients: (makes enough salt mix for 4 pieces)
7-8 oz center-cut salmon filets, skin-on
2 cups coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoon whole cloves
8 whole star anise
4 cinnamon sticks, broken up

24 comments:

Food Junkie said...

Sounds delicious. Salmon and coarse salt are now on the shopping list. I've never heard of cooking on salt and I can't wait to try it.

Sky Peace said...

My dad used to make salmon exactly like that. He used coarse salt, a LOT of chai tea, brown sugar, and basically the same spice mix you have there. Lovely dish!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! Just got home from work and happened to pick up two pieces of skin-on wild sockeye salmon tails, so hoping to give this a try!

DeLynn said...

Can't wait to try this for a date...



Chef John, what are you doing later?

Anonymous said...

Looks GREAT!! I especially liked your red nail polish..LOL
Jackie

uncivlengr said...

Do you just throw out the salt afterwards? My "thrifty" sensibilities can't get past that...

rosemary said...

If one is like us, who rarely get salmon in our shops, what other type of fish can you use?

Love the nail polish too!

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

Would ya do the salt-baked fish, would ya? I've experimented with that, and had great results with scup. (We catch them here, and they're delicious but bony. Baking them whole in salt was my way of letting my guests do the deboning.) I do a basic salt-and-egg-white coccoon, but I'm sure you'll find a way to improve it. And if you do that before scup season, I'd sure appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

In brazil we also know this technique, we put a kind of beef steak (it's a cut close to the tail, not sure of the English name) on salt and cover it completely in coarse sea salt. It always comes out with a salt crust which is easily removed and the meat is delicious!

Home made recipes said...

Salmon goes well with spices. In a vegetable laden recipe like this, you have nothing else to look for a fish recipe. I do the salmon skillets quite differently with chops of carrot. It’s good you are adding more star anise in this meal.

Star anise has many health benefits. It helps control skin diseases, used to prevent colic in babies, used to remove gas from the stomach, mitigates influenza, relieves headache and restores vitality. So it is more than a condiment but a whole natural way to better health.

Chef John said...

tamar, I definitely want to film the whole fish version. btw, never heard of Scup before.

Chef John said...

Yes, i throw away the salt. I guess you could save the parts that are not salmon-tainted, but I don't.

If you can't find salmon, maybe a think halibut filet will work. Or maybe whole rainbow trout.

Fungirl said...

Chef John - I have some salmon filets that are skinless. Would a piece of foil, cut to fit suffice as a substitute for the skin? Thanks!

Eric said...

Sounds great!

Chef, would you see a problem with saving the salt and spices in a refrigerated jar for doing this recipe a second time? I imagine any fish juices or oils still in the salt wouldn't spoil because of the high salt concentration.

Balu said...

Chef, can you explain the difference between the salt types?

Kosher salt, sea salt, rock salt?

So far the only coarse salt I've found here in Germany is sea salt.

Chef John said...

here is some general salt info http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/cooking-tips-techniques/cooking/six-types-salt-10000000675816/index.html

btw, all you save-the-salt people are on your own. I've never tried, so can't comment. Instincts say no.

Chef John said...

fungirl, wait until you get salmon with skin to try.

Matthew said...

We Chinese have a technique to bake chicken with salt as well. It's a Hakka-Chinese cuisine.

It's delicious too!

I have a question though, 2 cups of salt seems a bit too much. Is it ok to use the auromatic salt again after baking the fish with it?

Chef John said...

no, sorry cant reuse salt

Eliz said...

I just got a couple packages of really good salmon, but they do not have skin on them and I'd really like to try this cooking method/recipe out with them... Is there a way to do this with skinless salmon?

Eliz said...

Oh, I just realized my question was answered previously... Hmm... is it really not possible to use skinless salmon? I have like 4 fillets or so, and I rarely buy them and it'd be such a waste to not be able to try this out~~~ >0<

Michele said...

sorry, this method really needs the skin!

MikeR said...

This dish is amazing. I like how its basically 'just fish' with no heavy sauces or creams and what not.

Семен Полонский said...

Chef John, is it a good idea to combine this salmon and twice backed potato?