When you buy/cook/eat salmon as much as I do, sometimes you think you've given it every possible treatment. You start to go through the catalog of delicious recipes in your head (and online, thanks to one very handy resource, ahem) in order to pin down that night's dinner.
The old recipes are good, even great, but I really wanted something new. I got a new iron, new pair of kicks, and newly-inspected car all in time for a new month -- hello, April! Oh, and don't forget a new cookie recipe. New is the name of the game this week.
"Spring cleaning" has also been the name of the game. Clearing out and cleaning (I first typing "clearning"), I've found things I forgot I had in the first place. My coworker calls this "closet shopping." In this instance, I call it "pantry shopping."
Waaaay on the back of a shelf much above my eye line, I found a bag of panko, a bottle of sesame oil, and an extra (!) jar of peanut butter. The first two must have been remnants from a previous recipe; the presence of the last can only be called a miracle based on the current rate at which we devour peanut butter. All three turned out to be exactly what I needed to satisfy the urge for something
After one spoonful of peanut butter for quality control, I went rogue. I grabbed the salmon from the fridge, turned on the oven, and promised I'd have something to cook by the time the oven came up to temp. Fifteen minutes on the clock!
Armed with various spices and flavorings, I just started pouring and mixing. A little of this, a little of that, taste, and repeat. It always amazes me how free-wheeling cooking can be compared to baking. No threat of salmon not rising, eh?
I took a two layer approach to this salmon and, based on the result, I may never go back to one layer again! First, I coated the salmon fillets with a glaze made from peanut butter, soy sauce, garlic, chili, and ground ginger -- all pantry staples. The glaze was then topped with a crunchy layer made of panko tossed with sesame oil.
(You might not have sesame oil lingering in your pantry, but I highly recommend you pick up a small bottle. It's relatively common, inexpensive, and a little goes a long way. Try it with green beans and almonds for an instant upgrade to a side dish.)
After only a few minutes in the oven, the smell of the sesame and peanut butter are enough to trick you into thinking dinner is ready. Don't give into temptation and let it go until it's done. The reward is handsome!
The warm and nutty glaze permeates the flaky salmon and flavors the whole thing. And the toasted panko on top is just crunchy enough to satisfy. Bite for bite, this is a dish worth its weight in gold!
So good that I gave myself license to do a little shopping as a reward. Because, after all, isn't the point of spring cleaning to make room for new goodies?
One year ago: Kale, ham, & black-eyed pea omelette
Two years ago: French onion soup with quinoa & mushrooms
Panko Peanut Salmon
-makes 4 servings
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
2 Tablespoons smooth peanut butter
4 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
4 (4-6 ounce) boneless, skinless salmon fillets
Ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with nonstick spray. Combine sesame oil and panko in a small bowl and set aside. In another small bowl, whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and chili powder until smooth and consistency is thick but spreadable. Add more soy sauce if necessary.
Season both sides of salmon fillets with salt and pepper and place on lined baking sheet. Divide peanut soy glaze equally between four pieces and spread to coat top side of salmon. Sprinkle each piece of salmon with 2 Tablespoons of the panko mixture, pressing gently to adhere crumbs to glaze.
Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until panko begins to turn golden. Remove pan from oven. Plate salmon and enjoy immediately!