Salmon Variation #1,000: Panko Crusted Salmon with Lemon and Parsley Cappellini

We eat a lot of salmon at home. A lot. And why not? The beautifully coral-hued fish is delicious and meaty in texture, not to mention packed with nutritional benefits. While it is considered an "oily" fish because of its high omega-3 fatty acid content (important to cardiovascular health!) it does not actually taste oily at all.

Salmon are not all created equal. Firstly, there are the different varieties, with sockeye, chinook, pink, chum, and coho being the common ones. The sockeye and chinook varities are fattier with higher omega-3 contents. Then there is the farmed vs. wild debate. In general, the wild varities are more nutritious and contain less toxins than the farmed counterparts. While farmed salmon tend to be much "fattier" than wild, they also tend to be exposed to more artificial substances (and may even be tinted to a specific pink). We usually buy wild sockeye salmon.

Before this turns into a salmon encyclopedia entry, let's move onto the important part: cooking and eating. I keep feeling like I'm running out of fresh ways to prepare salmon. This time, I decided to use panko breadcrumbs as a crust. Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb that is coarser and lighter than regular breadcrumbs. It gives the food it coats a light, flaky crunchiness and is often used as a coating for Japanese tempura.
I flavoured the panko crust with gremolata-inspired ingredients. Gremolata is an Italian condiment made from parsely, lemon, and garlic that is traditionally served with ossobuco (braised veal shanks). The combination is incredibly fragrant and gives any dish a citrus freshness and warm depth from the garlic. I also added the mixture to some cooked cappellini to tie the side dish with the salmon. Freshly grated parmigiano reggiano and toasted pine nuts finish this quick and light pasta dish.

Panko Crusted Salmon with Lemon and Parsley Cappellini

Serves 4 generously

1 filet of salmon, skin on (about 2 lbs)

1 large lemon, zested and juiced

1/3 cup chopped parsely

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoon flour

1 egg

1/2 cup panko bread crumb

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 lb dry cappellini (angel hair pasta)

Parmesan cheese, to taste

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Preheat oven to 400F. Cut salmon into 4 equally sized portions. Mix lemon zest, parsely and garlic in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, toss panko with butter, salt and pepper to taste, and toss in about 3 tablespoons of lemon mixture.
Thinly coat salmon with flour. Brush salmon with beaten egg. Divide panko between the 4 salmon pieces, pressing lightly to adhere. Roast in preheated oven for about 12 minutes per inch thickness.

Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente. Drain and toss with remaining lemon zest mixture, freshly grated parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Moisten with pasta water if it appears dry. Serve alongside salmon with toasted pine nuts sprinkled on top.

Recipe and image property of beets and bites

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