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I decided to try my hand at making blackened salmon after having a delicious portion that cost about twenty dollars at a restaurant.

If you know me, you know I do not follow recipes as a rule. I stumble upon my own recipes by adjusting ingredients and seasoning to get the flavor I am looking for.

I hit this recipe with my first attempt, and now it is among the favorites of my friends and family. Best of all, though, is how simple it is to make!

Recipe: Blackened Salmon or Steelhead

It isn’t so much that I felt twenty dollars for a small filet of blackened salmon served with a salad was necessarily out of line. It was more that I really enjoyed it, and did not want to get it only when I happened to be at a restaurant that serves this delicacy.

Salmon is not particularly difficult to prepare. Some recipes are more complex than others, of course, and some are better than others.

The objective with most of these recipes is to have the salmon remain moist. Blackened salmon, however, is a bit dryer and flakier, and quite flavorful.

I figured I would have to give it several tries before finally getting it correct. That didn’t happen. My first attempt came out so good that I have not adjusted the recipe since, except that sometimes I use steelhead instead of salmon. I actually prefer the steelhead.

Ingredients:

Steelhead or Salmon filets (I use an entire half, or multiple halves, so there is enough for everyone and some left over)
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Blackened Seasoning

VERY IMPORTANT: Cover your baking sheet or dish with aluminum foil! You can also use aluminum foil to replace the baking sheet. If you do not follow this important step, you will have difficulty getting the skin of the salmon off the baking sheet.

Rinse the steelhead or salmon. Place it skin down on the aluminum foil.

Sprinkle the garlic powder to give the filet a light and complete covering.

Sprinkle the onion powder to fully cover the filet slightly more than the garlic powder.

Sprinkle the blackened seasoning to fully cover the filet slightly more than the onion powder.

Bake uncovered in an oven preheated to 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. When the deepest part of the filet flakes when pierced with a fork, your delicacy is done.

When serving this as the main course for a meal, I like to keep the sides a bit light. Something like a spinach salad, roasted asparagus or peppers, or some steamed broccoli seem to go well with it. If I prepare a starch to accompany the meal, I prefer rice, and not potatoes, with this dish.

It also goes over really well as a contribution to a potluck, in which case I don’t worry about the sides, of course.

The leftovers, if there are any, are a terrific addition to chowder, make a fantastic salad spread for sandwiches, are amazing crumbled over a salad, or simply can be eaten as it is either cold or reheated.

More important than covering the baking sheet with aluminum foil to keep the skin from becoming a new part of the surface, is selecting a good grade of salmon.

Some people I know who shall go unnamed (my mom) thinks she has scored when she is able to buy ten pounds of salmon for $12. I tell her that she is buying farmed salmon, chum salmon, or, most likely, farmed chum salmon. The recipe will make that crap more flavorful the same way salting tofu likely makes that crap easier to swallow.

Using that grade of salmon, however, is a waste of perfectly good inexpensive seasonings.

The easiest way to identify whether the filet you are buying is a reasonable grade is for it to be identified. Steelhead is my favorite, unless it is farmed. Atlantic salmon is likely farmed fish. If it is not identified as something like "king," "chinook," or "sockeye," be wary and be selective. It not only will be tastier, it will also be healthier for you.

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