When I think of stale bread, bread pudding is always my first thought. It is one of my favorite comfort foods, sweet or savory. However, my family recently enjoyed delicious Spaghetti with Sardines, Dill and Fried Capers from Gourmet – a riff off the Sicilian classic Pasta con Sarde – and it immediately gave me the idea to shower a salmon fillet in seasoned breadcrumbs. From there the rest was easy, choosing accompanying flavors that pair well with salmon and a technique that is so easy, I wonder why I don’t do it more often. Gin imparts more fragrance than flavor, delicately perfuming the fish with juniper goodness.
Note: For a gluten free version, this is also delicious using Udi's Multigrain bread for the breadcrumbs. —gingerroot
Test Kitchen Notes
Very nice dish. I really enjoyed it! The only thing is that I ended up doubling the amount of capers, horseradish & mayo into the breadcrumb mixture. Poaching the fish with the herbs added a really nice aromatic flavor to the dish. The variety of the bread types in the breadcrumbs was also a nice, unique touch. —audrey kasindorf
slices stale Pumpernickel dark rye, thick crusts removed (you want to end up with 1/2 cup of stale breadcrumbs)
slices stale French baguette, thick crusts removed (you want to end up with 1/2 cup of stale breadcrumbs
1-1 1/2 pounds
salmon fillet, preferably wild
fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
fresh dill, finely chopped
mixed Pumpernickel/French breadcrumbs (more crumb than sand)
Note: Here in Hawaii, sliced bread molds faster than it gets stale. I sliced and cubed two pieces from each of my day old loaves and then popped them into a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes to dry out the bread a little more. Feel free to stale your bread using whatever technique works in your climate.
Make your breadcrumbs by cubing your bread slices (Pumpernickel and French) and giving them a whirl in the food processor. Pulse until you have mostly uniform, smaller than pea-sized breadcrumbs (the bulk of the mix should be uniform; you’ll also have pulverized sandy-looking bits). Be careful not to overheat your processor.
In a sauté pan or skillet with a lid, add the gin and water. Place salmon in the center of your pan and evenly distribute parsley, dill and lemon zest on top of fish, pressing down slightly with your finger. Cover pan and bring to a simmer. Cook until desired doneness, about 6-7 minutes. Since you will be covering the fillet with breadcrumbs, it is okay to test doneness with a sharp knife in the center of fillet. Do not overcook. Transfer to a serving platter.
While your salmon is poaching, get started on your breadcrumbs.
In a skillet, melt the butter, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the butter begins to brown and is fragrant. Carefully add your breadcrumbs, and cook, stirring constantly until they are crisp and golden (the rye crumbs will be darker than golden), about a minute. Remove pan from heat and stir in capers, horseradish and mayonnaise. Thoroughly combine mixture using a heatproof spatula. Shower salmon with your breadcrumbs and enjoy!
My most vivid childhood memories have to do with family and food. As a kid, I had the good fortune of having a mom who always encouraged trying new things, and two grandmothers who invited me into their kitchens at a young age. I enjoy cooking for the joy it brings me - sharing food with loved ones - and as a stress release. I turn to it equally during good times and bad. Now that I have two young children, I try to be conscientious about what we cook and eat. Right about the time I joined food52, I planted my first raised bed garden and joined a CSA; between the two I try to cook as sustainably and organically as I can. Although I'm usually cooking alone, my children are my favorite kitchen companions and I love cooking with them. I hope when they are grown they will look back fondly at our time spent in the kitchen, as they teach their loved ones about food-love.
Best of all, after years on the mainland for college and graduate school, I get to eat and cook and raise my children in my hometown of Honolulu, HI. When I'm not cooking, I am helping others grow their own organic food or teaching schoolchildren about art.