If salmon wasn’t good enough as-is, this recipe takes it up a notch. Slathered in Dijon and packed with flavorfully seasoned panko, this Panko Crusted Salmon is simple but swoon-worthy. It’s a weeknight dinner dressed up, with the glamor of a date-night-worthy dish made easy. It’s visually beautiful, but it also measures up to its good looks in taste. All in all, it’s a showstopper.
How To Make Killer Panko Crusted Salmon
The magic of this Panko Crusted Salmon is all in the method, which makes for ultra-tender salmon with a succulent flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture. This recipe uses a skin-on salmon filet and starts with a quick sear in a heavy-bottom skillet. This crisps the skin of the fish while thoroughly heating the pan. After 3-5 minutes on the stovetop, transfer the pan directly to the oven to finish cooking. There, the panko breadcrumbs get golden and crispy, and the all-over heat locks in the salmon’s moisture to cook the fish evenly.
Alongside the method, there are a few key ingredients to making this Panko Crusted Salmon absolutely perfect: skin-on salmon, panko breadcrumbs, and Dijon mustard.
Why Use Skin-On Salmon?
Skin-on salmon, when cooked right, is akin to crispy chicken skin. It packs a ton of flavor, not to mention incredible texture. The skin also acts as a barrier to the tender flesh of the fish, protecting it from the harsh, direct heat of the skillet that could cause it to fall apart in the pan. To achieve that shatteringly crisp skin, make sure the pan is heated thoroughly, then add the oil. Heat the oil until rippling, then add the salmon and allow it to cook undisturbed. Leaving it alone allows it time to develop that deep, satisfying crust.
What Are Panko Breadcrumbs?
Panko is the Cadillac of breadcrumbs. Their texture is light and airy, with tons of craggy surface area to ensure maximum crispiness. This allows for a heavy coating of breadcrumbs that inevitably comes out of the oven golden and crunchy. No other style of breadcrumbs works for this Panko Crusted Salmon recipe—it’s panko or bust. It’s a very common ingredient, and most major or local grocery stores carry it in the baking or international foods aisles.
In this recipe, the Panko is seasoned with loads of fresh dill, the zest from an entire lemon, salt, and plenty of olive oil to make sure it browns perfectly in the oven.
Mustard as a Binding Agent
Dijon singlehandedly manages the job of binding the breadcrumbs to the fish in this Panko Crusted Salmon recipe. It keeps the panko bound to the fish, minimizing fallout when the fish is transferred to and from the pan. With tangy, white-wine notes, the Dijon is balanced with fresh cracked black pepper to evenly season the fish. With a final touch of freshly squeezed lemon, it’s a perfect combo. After being roasted, the flavor is subtle but impactful, all while keeping the salmon moist and flaky.
Whether making this dish for a cozy date-night in or to get dinner on the table quickly, it’s a winner. Be sure to get your hands on great salmon, then let the cooking method and ingredients do all the talking.
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Panko Crusted Salmon
- 1 pound Atlantic salmon, skin on
- 1 ½ teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt, divided
- 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- ¼ cup fresh dill, divided
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- Preheat the oven to 425° Fahrenheit and situate a rack in the top third of the oven. Meanwhile, place the salmon on a clean cutting board and pat very dry on all sides with a paper towel. Sprinkle the salmon on all sides with 1 teaspoon of salt and allow it to sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. After allowing it to sit, pat it dry once more.
- Zest the lemon into a small bowl and set aside. In another small bowl, combine ½ tablespoon of lemon juice, dijon mustard, and cracked black pepper. Using a spoon, slather the dijon mixture on top of the salmon. Finely chop the dill and add all but 1 tablespoon to the bowl with the lemon zest, setting aside the reserved dill. Add the panko bread crumbs, 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil, and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt to the dill and lemon zest. Mix thoroughly to ensure the bread crumbs are entirely coated in oil. Press the seasoned panko bread crumbs into the dijon mixture on top of the salmon filet, packing it to ensure it sticks.
- Heat a large, oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat with the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil. Once the oil is rippling but not smoking, gently add the salmon filet skin-side down. Cook, undisturbed, for about 3-4 minutes or until the underside of the salmon begins to brown.
- Transfer the salmon to the oven and cook until the fish reaches an internal temperature of 145°, about 7-9 minutes. By this time, the panko should be golden brown. Remove the salmon from the oven and allow to rest for an additional 5 minutes. Sprinkle the reserved dill all over the top and finish the dish with an extra squeeze of lemon. Serve and enjoy immediately.
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