There’s so much to love about this simple, summery salmon dish. It makes good use of the season’s bountiful cherry tomatoes and basil. It’s virtually impossible to mess up given the gentle roasting technique. And it involves nutty, always glorious brown butter polka-dotted with sizzled brown mustard seeds, which lend their characteristic piquant, tangy flavor. The mustard-infused brown butter sauce not only enhances the salmon’s natural buttery richness, it’s the perfect counterpoint to ripe, juicy tomatoes that become soft and jammy when roasted alongside the salmon. The resulting combination of flavors, textures, and colors is pretty spectacular, especially given how easily the whole dish comes together. This same preparation works well with other fish and seafood, such as Arctic char, steelhead trout, and shrimp; just adjust the roasting time accordingly.
A few notes: Feel free to reach for brown or black mustard seeds when making this dish. Black mustard seeds, commonly used in South Indian cooking, are spicier and more intense in flavor than brown. You may find you’ll need a lesser amount of chile flakes (or none at all) if using black mustard seeds, so definitely adjust the level of heat to your taste.
As for sides, there are so many good options if you want something to round out your meal, such as roasted vegetables, pasta, or crusty bread for making sure none of the buttery sauce goes to waste.
Test Kitchen Notes
It's the end of the long workday (or the start of an extra-long week) and we're hungry. Like, "can't-think-straight" hungry. Luckily, Food52 contributor EmilyC wants to do all the thinking for us. In Dinner's Ready, her twice-a-month column on weeknight wonders, Emily shares simple, flavor-packed recipes that'll have a good meal on the table in no time. —The Editors
- Prep time 5 minutes
- Cook time 25 minutes
- Serves 4
salmon fillet (skin on or off)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
brown or black mustard seeds (see author note)
red wine vinegar
red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 to 2 cups
fresh basil leaves
flaky sea salt, for finishing
Crusty bread, pasta, or rice, for serving
- Heat the oven to 325°F.
- On a quarter sheet pan or baking dish, place salmon skin-side down. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and mustard seeds. Cook, gently swirling the pan, until the butter is nutty and browned and the seeds are fragrant and toasted, 3 to 4 minutes, lowering heat if needed. If using black mustard seeds, they will begin to pop once they're fully bloomed. Add red wine vinegar, red pepper flakes (to taste), and cherry tomatoes (dry them well if freshly washed; otherwise the hot butter will splatter!). Season with a few big pinches of salt. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the tomatoes have started to burst and release their juices. Gently smash them to help them on their way (the back of a metal spatula or potato masher works well).
- Pour the brown-buttered tomatoes over the salmon, smearing the butter and mustard seeds evenly over the salmon’s flesh. Bake until just-cooked through and the flesh flakes, about 15 minutes (or an instant-read thermometer reads 120 degrees in the thickest part).
- Let cool for a few minutes, then shower the salmon with the basil. To serve, break the salmon into large pieces, and divide across plates with the brown-buttered tomatoes. Season with a few pinches of flaky sea salt.