A delicious and simple spice-crusted roasted salmon recipe,
from Paula Shoyer’s new book The Healthy Jewish Kitchen.
Do you wish you could eat more healthily? It’s no secret that a lot of what we think of as Jewish food falls at the less healthy end of the spectrum. Traditional dishes tend to be heavy on the schmaltz and salt, and modern recipes often call for the liberal use of highly-processed ingredients such as MSG-laden stock powders or heavily-sweetened sauces.
All of which makes Paula Shoyer’s latest offering, The Healthy Jewish Kitchen, stand out as a breath of fresh air on the ‘Jewish cookbook’ shelf.
An American, Paula studied at the Ritz Escoffier in Paris, and is now best known for her baking (her website is thekosherbaker.com). However, this book shows that she excels in all areas of the kitchen. It contains a wide range of fabulous recipes, covering appetisers and salads, soups, meat, fish & vegetarian main dishes, side dishes, and desserts and breads.
The book is forthright in its aim to encourage healthier eating habits, and also includes helpful information on stocking a pantry, and meal planning. Paula has also included a section containing menu suggestions for everything from Shabbat lunch to a summer barbecue, making it really easy to put together great healthy meals without too much extra effort.
I loved that each recipe was prefaced by information on its dietary suitability e.g. parve, gluten-free, vegan, etc. and whether it’s suitable for Pesach (Passover). Quantities are given in both US measures AND in grams/ml – hurrah! Each recipe also includes details of preparation and cooking times, and a comprehensive list of the equipment you’ll need to make the dish – right down to things like a vegetable peeler, or a roll of aluminium foil. These details mean you can start cooking, relaxed in the knowledge that you have everything ready and won’t be caught out later.
Dotted throughout the book are also boxes with hints & tips and extra information, such as how to thoroughly clean leeks, or how to use specialist spices or other ingredients. These often include personal tales and have a wonderful conspiratorial tone, as if Paula was chatting to you about her experiences as you cook.
The book is packed with delicious sounding recipes, and it was a challenge to decide which to make first! We eat quite a bit of fish and I’m always looking for new ways to prepare it, so in the end I settled on the recipe for dry-rubbed roasted salmon. It looked fairly easy, and could be part-done in advance, which was perfect for my schedule! The dish applies a robust spice blend to salmon fillets, then they are left to marinate before cooking in the oven.
I ground the spices in my mortar and pestle, and obtained a coarse mixture which smelled amazing! Even my daughter Kipper, who usually likes her fish quite plain, took a sniff and decided to brave having the mixture on her roasted salmon too.
We had the roasted salmon warm for dinner on Friday night, then again cold for Shabbat lunch, and it was really delicious both ways – succulent, tasty and with a wonderful combination of textures from the crunchy spices against the soft fish. Kipper loved it too! I’d feared I might end up having to scrape all the lovely seasoning off her portion, but she was very enthusiastic and ate it all! (The spice blend is quite peppery though, so less adventurous eaters might prefer it toned down a bit.)
Next on my list to try are the mango coleslaw, Moroccan lentil soup, roasted broccoli with mustard and za’atar drizzle, and caramelized apple strudel. If you’re a fan of world-food influences, you might also enjoy the Sri Lankan rice with dried fruit and nuts, Tuscan farro soup, fish tacos, Cambodian spring rolls, or Indian spiced rice pudding.
This recipe for dry-rubbed roasted salmon is reproduced with permission from The Healthy Jewish Kitchen by Paula Shoyer.
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Dry-rubbed roasted salmon
This recipe started out as one thing and then turned into something else. My plan was to coat fresh salmon with the spices that are used to cure pastrami. I rubbed my spice mix on the fish and even then I noticed that it was not very black and pastrami-like. After letting the rub sit on the salmon for a while, I simply baked it in the oven. It was only when it was done, and I’d taken it out of the oven, that I realized I’d never added any oil to the fish or the pan! I served it anyway and it was flavorful and moist, without any fat, other than what was naturally in the fish. Feel free to add more black peppercorns to the spice mix if you want more kick.
• ADVANCE PREP: Spice mix may be made 1 week in advance; fish may be cooked 1 day in advance •
EQUIPMENT: Measuring spoons, cutting board, knife, jelly roll pan, coffee grinder or food processor (or mortar and pestle, or quart resealable plastic bag and rolling pin), small bowl, spoon large plate
- 3 pound (1.5 kg) salmon fillet, whole or cut into 6 8-ounce (250g) servings
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon black or yellow mustard seeds
- 2 teaspoons juniper berries
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked or regular paprika
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Place the coriander seeds, black peppercorns, mustard seeds, juniper berries, and fennel seeds into a coffee grinder or food processor and grind them into small pieces (making sure none are left whole), but not completely into a powder. If you use a food processor and some of the spices are still too big after processing, crush them using a mortar and pestle, or put them in a quart resealable plastic bag and then smash it with a rolling pin. Transfer the ground seeds, peppercorns, and the rest of the mixture into a small bowl. Add the brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cloves, and salt, and mix well.
Spread the spice mix on a plate and press each slice of salmon into the mix to cover it completely. Use all the spice mix. Place the fish on a roasting pan, leaving space between the pieces. Let the fish sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, covered with plastic wrap, or refrigerate it if you will be cooking it later.
Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Bake the salmon for 20 to 22 minutes, 20 minutes if you like it a little pink inside, longer if you want it fully cooked. Serve the fish hot or at room temperature.
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