Author Notes: This recipe (though it's so simple you barely need a recipe) evolved out of my mom's technique for making simple broiled salmon and my obsession with za'atar. All you do is coat pieces of salmon filet in olive oil and lemon with a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper, then press a thick layer of za'atar onto the top side (no skin) of the fish. Less than 20 minutes under the broiler at full steam and you have tangy, creamy, nutty-flavored salmon that goes well with toasted pine nut basmati rice, or a fresh cucumber, radish, and avocado salad. Salmon seems fancy, but this dish is quick and easy to scale up if you're feeding friends, as well.
P.S. After writing up this recipe, I decided to look to see if I was accidentally infringing on someone else's recipe. Turns out there are indeed similar versions of this recipe on the internet, but they are different enough that if you don't like something -- maybe you don't want to broil or you don't like lemon -- an alternate method is out there for you! —yael
pound fresh salmon filet, skin on
tablespoons olive oil
tablespoons za'atar (or more)
salt to taste
pepper to taste
bell peppers, any color
- To prepare, set your oven to broil and turn the heat up to about 450-500 Fahrenheit (or as high as your oven goes). Move your oven rack as close to the coils as you can, keeping in mind that you don't want the fish to actually touch the top of the oven. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil.
- Rinse the salmon quickly under water and pat dry. Slice into single serving pieces. One pound usually results in 4-5 slices. Place the slices on the aluminum foil.
- Sprinkle the fish with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Slice the lemon in half and remove the seeds. Squeeze half a lemon (or more) over the fish. I usually use at least part of the second half of the lemon because I think the tanginess really compliments the richness of the salmon. Next, drizzle the olive oil on top then turn all the pieces in the excess oil, lemon, and spices until all sides are well coated.
- With the slices of salmon lying skin side down, press a thick layer of za'atar onto the top of the fish so that you can't see much pink through the spices. I usually use two spoons: one to scoop the za'atar and the other to press it onto the fish (or just use your fingers). It will seem like an unreasonable amount of za'atar, but it's not. If you aren't sure how much you love za'atar or you are running low, you could use less and the fish will still taste great.
- Carefully turn the fish pieces so the skin side is facing up, but make sure most of the za'atar does not fall off (that's why pressing it in is important). Slide the tray into the oven as close to the broiler as you can and cook for 6-7 minutes.
- Remove the tray and flip the slices of salmon so the za'atar side is facing up and broil for another 5-6 minutes, or less if you like it a bit less opaque in the middle. I like my salmon well done with crispy edges so I usually err on the upper end of the time range. That said, the timing could be slightly different depending on your oven, so I recommend slicing one piece in the middle to be sure it's done the way you like it.
- One pound of fish (plus a side) typically feeds two of us heartily, so you could scale up by buying about a half pound (or slightly less) per person.
- The blackened vegetables mentioned in the title are optional, but highly recommended. To add them: After you slice the fish and season it, chop the peppers and onions into large (about 2 inch) cubes. Add the vegetables to the tray and swirl them in the seasoning that has collected on the aluminum foil. You might want to add a bit more salt and pepper, to your taste. That's it! Just follow the fish instructions and you'll have some tasty, partially blackened veggies to accompany your dish.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe with Salmon