Dinner for Two: Easy Crunchy Mustard-Baked Salmon

Kerry Saretsky

There are three kinds of recipes. The first are the kind that totally, for lack of a better word, suck. Fool me once; I never make those again. The second are the terrific kind, but they just feel like a one-off. An occasion recipe, maybe, for novelty. And the third are the most rare, and the most wonderful. The ones that you make, and then make, and then make, and then make again.

For me, this crunchy, mustardy salmon is by far and away the third kind of recipe, so much so that, since my parents are in town, I am making it for them along with my Roasted Ratatouille Lasagna Napoleons from French in a Flash a few weeks ago.

The concept is simple: salmon and mustard go well together. I lightly butter the bottom of two fresh salmon fillets (my market makes sure they are skinless and boneless) and set them in a skillet. While they get crispy on the bottom, I make a kind of savory crumble of breadcrumbs, two mustards, thyme, and butter. I pile it on top of the salmon while it's still in the pan, and transfer the whole thing to the oven.

The salmon finishes cooking and the crumbs get crispy and nutty and tangy and spicy from the mustard. It's kind of like an easier, lighter, more elegant way of getting crisp fried fish, with a little French flavor and flair.

I serve it on a bed of blanched fine green beans, or next to a salad. But what's next to it is not important. It's just about the salmon, so buttery, so tender, so good, and perfect, and earthy and wholesome, that I just can't stop making it! I made it for Mr. English and myself, but he was late in getting home, so I took the opportunity to pack it up for lunch the next day. And I'm happy to report it's just as good cold!