Fancy Walnut Crusted Salmon
I try to feed my family salmon often for the omega-3's that are so important for brain development. I also have a son who is underweight (a big issue in itself. More later on that!) and wanted to include ingredients that had a high fat content but were still healthy. That's how Fancy Walnut Crusted Salmon was born. Not only is the fish tasty, it makes a pretty presentation, too--always a plus! This is especially nice as a Shavuos main course to mix with the dairy products we usually eat.
Here's the rundown: I used a salmon side instead of fillets. I thought the fish would look prettier as a long piece. You can, of course, use the fillets instead and it will come out just fine. You just might need to adjust the cooking time to a little less so the smaller pieces don't dry out. I also used frozen salmon. Fresh salmon is always better, of course, but if you can't get it, frozen works very well.
As for the walnuts, I actually ground them myself. You can probably buy ground walnuts in just about any supermarket. I don't really know, I never use them. Walnuts are very easy to grind, yourself, though. Just pop the nuts in the food processor and process for a minute or less. That's it! By the way, the high fat content in the walnuts makes them slightly oilier and softer than most nuts. Therefore, they stick to the fish really well.
I used jelly in this recipe to add flavor and as a sticking agent for the walnuts. I used grape or strawberry for this recipe, I can't remember which. However, I think an apricot or orange marmalade would be ideal. The tartness of apricots and oranges give a slight tang to the sweetness which combines very well with mild salmon.
A word about baking fish if you are new at it. Always be very careful of the cooking time. Fish gets overdone very easily. If you overcook chicken or meat, you can often doctor it up to hide the fact. Not so with fish. Once it's overcooked, it's nearly impossible to fix....and you can really taste it. If you aren't sure of the time, cook it less and then check it periodically. To check, insert a fork and make a small slice in the body. The fish meat should be flaky. If it's mushy it's underdone and try cooking it more, 5 minutes at a time. It's ok for it to have a little juice, but you don't want too much. If the fish meat flakes when you cut the fork into it, it's done.
Ok, and now for that recipe......
Fancy Walnut Crusted Salmon
1 side of salmon, fresh or frozen
1 cup ground walnuts
2 Tbsp. preserves--orange marmalade or apricot are best
1 tsp. each: onion powder and garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
A few grinds of fresh pepper
1. If using frozen salmon, defrost first. This can be done by placing frozen fish in the refrigerator and letting it thaw out for 24 hours. Or, you can use the quick method: place the frozen salmon in a large bowl filled with lukewarm water. Be sure that you keep the salmon in the plastic wrapping it comes in. Cover entirely with water. Let soak until the salmon defrosts. With a side of salmon, this takes about 15-30 minutes. Proceed with rest of the recipe.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover a baking tray with foil or parchment paper and set aside.
3. Wash the salmon and pat it dry. Place fish on the prepared tray. Season with garlic and onion powders, salt and pepper.
4. Spread preserves over the top of the salmon side.
5. Place handfuls of the walnuts over the preserve-covered fish. Pat the nuts down to make sure they stay in place.
6. Put salmon in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, check to see if it's ready by cutting into the flesh with a fork. Fish should be flaky. It can have a little moisture but not too much. If it's very mushy, cook for 5 more minutes. Continue checking until fish is done. Just be very careful to NOT overcook it!