In Israel growing up, I didn't know this fish called Salmon. Whole fish, that my uncle caught in the close by town of Acco, a port city in northwest Israel on the Mediterranean coast was the only fish we knew. He would bring some to my mother with the head and tail intact and clean it in our kitchen sink. This was the only fish I ever saw. We didn't even know the name of the fish, it was just called fish.
Today Israel's fish variety is one of the most sophisticated in the culinary world and Salmon has become very popular.
But I learned how to make the best salmon at the restaurant of my layover hotel where our airline crew stays in London, UK.
As a flight attendant I flew to London often and one of the crew favorites was a baked salmon that the chef at the lobby restaurant used to cook. In fact, they named this menu choice "The crew salmon" due to it's popularity with airline crew. When you ordered it at the table or to take up to your room, they would always ask, "you're crew, right?".
So one day I ordered it and while chatting to the chef that I knew I asked him, so how do you get this salmon to be so perfect each time? He answered, "to cook a perfect salmon, it's all in the seasoning that I use". I was intrigued and asked if I could buy it anywhere, he said "no it's only available for restaurants". He showed it to me, it was a regular looking mixed seasoning and he kindly offered to order it for me so that when I come back the following week, I will have it. I was thrilled! I didn't even ask the price, how much could seasoning possibly cost? I wasn't worried.
I worked a flight back to London the following week and was very exited on the way over to receive my new special mixed spice. The chef demonstrated and explained to me how he cooked the salmon and gave me the bottle of seasoning. I asked him how much I owed him and he said "20 British pounds" which at the time was $40! I was a little surprised to say the least but didn't let on and gave him the money. I went back to the room and looked the exact seasoning up online and it was available for $2.99.
But wait, I don't feel like I was cheated, I got my money's worth. I received a private cooking lesson on how to bake the perfect salmon from the chef of the restaurant and a pack of seasoning mix thrown in. True story!
There are many ways to cook salmon, but I have found that the simpler the way it is prepared and cooked, the tastier. This is my version of the perfect salmon with my own twist added.
Ingredients you will need:
2-4 medium sized Verlasso salmon cut into portions* with skin on (skin can be removed if you prefer) I get mine at my local fresh fish shop. See tips at the bottom of page.
Juice of half a lemon and sliced lemon from the other half for garnish
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon sesame oil
3 sprigs of green onions chopped for garnish
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon Jerusalem mix (see link at bottom of page) If you don't have this use cumin
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon plain flour
2 ½ Tablespoons Silan or Honey. Silan does give it the special flavor though. (See link at bottom of page)
½ teaspoon Harissa spicy sauce (see link at bottom of page) if you don't have it use chili pepper. If you don't like spicy food leave it out.
3 cloves garlic crushed
All seasoning can be adjusted to taste
Pat dry the salmon portions with a paper towel on both sides. Sprinkle a little flour on both sides. Just a light coat. In a pan heat one tablespoon of the olive oil. Fry the salmon on each side for 5 minutes to crisp the outside of the fillets.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
In a bowl make a marinade by adding together the olive oil, sesame oil, lemon juice, all the seasoning, silan or honey, harissa, crushed garlic and whisk until all is blended.
Lay your salmon portions with the skin side up in a baking dish, make 3 slits across with a sharp knife and brush all sides with the marinade. Bake in oven for 12-15 minutes. Not more than that. Remember you cooked it for 10 minutes in the pan first.
Take out and scatter chopped green onions on top. Place sliced lemons on plate. Serve with your favorite salad and you've got a delicious, healthy meal!
*Portions are cut thicker than fillets. If you are using fillets cut your frying and baking time by a few minutes as they are thinner and will cook quicker.