During yesterday’s supermarket binge, I got a few extra salmon steaks to last me through the weekend.  Still plowing my way through the work pile, I should give myself credit for having enough foresight to pick an easy fish to cook.  But really, I just simply love salmon.

Tonight’s dinner came courtesy of Mark Bittman’s Four-Spice Salmon.  His recipe calls for the use of fresh ground spices – cumin, coriander, nutmeg, and a small dash of ground cloves.  I omitted the cloves as they were the only things missing from my spice rack.  But everything else got tossed into the trusty mortar and pestle.  I went to work, grinding and blending my spice rub.  The aromatic notes released from the fresh spices were fragrant and wonderful.  I now understood Bittman’s emphasis on freshness, and his strong discouragement in the use of pre-ground mixes, that “it’s a shame to waste good salmon by coating it with stale, insipid spices.”

mixture of cumin, coriander, and nutmeg, and coarse ground in a mortar/pestle

Mark Bittman’s Four-Spice Salmon

Ingredients: (enough for 4 salmon steaks)

  • 4 6-ounce, skinned salmon fillets
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds or ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole or ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seed or ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil, grape seed or other neutral oil, or clarified butter

rub spice mixture on both sides of raw salmon fillet

Season salmon on both sides with salt and pepper.  Combine spices and grind into a coarse powder.  Press some of the spice mixture onto the tops of the fillets, or both sides for extra flavor.

Next, add oil or butter to a large skillet and heat over medium-high temperature.  Once the oil begins to shimmer, place fillets into the pan, coated side down.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until browned on the bottom.  Turn the salmon over and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Once finished, I laid my salmon steak (which I had pre-cut before cooking into 1.5 inch wide mini-steaks) onto a bed of raw spinach and carrots.  The salmon was so flavourful that there was no need for any additional dressing.  The spinach nicely wilted just a bit from the heat of the fillets and the carrots added some sweetness, balancing well with the cumin and coriander.