I can't post this recipe without first coming clean. . . I've never been a salmon fan. Sure, I like nova on a bagel but I'm jewish and that comes with the territory. However, my husband loves salmon and is always nagging me to cook it. I've always refused until tonight. I was browsing at the market when I spied a beautiful piece of wild salmon and thought why not. I had been planning to make a Middle Eastern inspired eggplant spread so I threw the salmon in the mix. It turned out pretty tasty and that's saying a lot for a (former) salmon hater. - melissav —melissav
Test Kitchen Notes
This dish combines the flavor of a meaty fish with its usual sidekick, lemon, and then adds zest with zaatar. Cumin is the surprise and it really works. I think fresh zaatar is key to making the flavors stand out from the salmon. (I used a green and untoasted Jordanian zaatar blend) and the addition of a dairy (I used sour cream instead of creme fraiche) provides contrast to the earthy spice mix. I loved the roasted eggplant but kept them as slices just to keep some texture along with the salmon. - NakedBeet
wild salmon filet, with skin on
za'atar + 1/2 teaspoon, divided
creme fraiche (or greek yogurt if you feel like behaving)
eggplant (I used 3 small japanese eggplants and 1 small white eggplant but you can use any combo)
Dry the salmon and rub both the skin and non-skin side with the spice mixture. Put on a small plate skin side up. Place in fridge while you prepare the eggplant (see below).
Mix the creme fraiche with the remaining 1/2 tsp za'atar, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
Once the eggplant is done roasting, remove the fish from the fridge and set aside.
Once the eggplant is complete, heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat and add a splash of olive oil. Heat for another minute.
Sear the fish skin side down for four minutes. Turn over and sear for another 1-2 minutes until cooked to your liking. I like it medium rare.
Serve as directed below in the eggplant recipe, step 11
Place the eggplant on a cookie sheet and broil under high heat until the skin is very charred, turning from time to time. When charred and eggplant is soft, remove from oven and set aside to cool
When cool, remove the skin and any large pockets of seeds and place the flesh in a bowl of water with the lemon peels (leftover from squeezing the juice) for a few minutes. Remove from the water, squeeze out the water. Remove the water from the bowl and return the flesh to the empty bowl. This step helps keeps the flesh from turning too brown.
Mash the eggplant flesh with lemon juice, both oils, garlic, za'atar, cumin, parsley, mint, 3 TB of the walnuts, and salt to taste. Set aside and cook the fish.
Once the fish is cooked, place a scoop of eggplant on each plate, sprinkle with half of the feta and top with the salmon. Top with a spoonful of the creme fraiche and sprinkle with the remaining walnuts and feta.