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Hasselback your salmon for a fresh way to eat this tasty fish

(Justin Tsucalas for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)
Hasselback Salmon
Active time:20 mins
Total time:35 mins
Servings:4
Active time:20 mins
Total time:35 mins
Servings:4

Ever have a friend who finds little ways to make life easier? She offers clever asides or makes astute observations that result in why-didn’t-I-think-of-that moments. The cookbook “Prep and Rally” by Dini Klein delivers that same feeling: Here’s someone who not only gets it, but wants to help you get it, too.

I found myself nodding and saying “so smart” as I flipped through her cookbook filled with organizing tips, detailed grocery lists, and specific food prep and cooking advice designed to help busy home cooks like Klein, a trained chef and working mother of three, get dinner on the table without sacrificing fun and flavor.

The book mirrors what Klein offers through her Prep + Rally family meal plan service. The gist: Pick four dishes to cook, make a solid grocery list, then spend an hour or so on one day (maybe Sunday) making sauces, sides and recipe building blocks so you can then quickly throw together dinner Monday through Thursday.

Even if, like me, you don’t feel the need to completely revamp your cooking habits, her cookbook delivers something you probably do want: fast, make-ahead recipes that don’t feel like retreads.

This hasselback salmon is my favorite example from the book. I chose this recipe from among the many tasty options because as much as I love salmon, I sometimes find myself falling back on buying fillets, pan searing them, and drizzling them with olive oil and lemon. Tasty, but sigh.

This one offered something differently delicious, but still quite simple. And you can assemble it the day before, wrap it up nice and tight in the refrigerator and bake it for 30 minutes the next night.

What’s fun about it? Rather than buying individual fillets, you get yourself a 2-pound slab of the fish. Then you hasselback it. That is, you take a sharp knife and make two rows of horizontal slits and one long slit down the center, using care not to cut through the skin underneath. Then you sprinkle it with garlicky parmesan breadcrumbs, tucking those savory bits in the slits.

The fish is drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice before it is slipped in the oven to crisp and turn golden. The fatty fish and cheese create a dish that is quite rich, so Klein serves it with a bright, clean-tasting chimichurri-style vinaigrette that also can be made a day or two ahead.

And the final little nugget that made me smile: Klein lightly oils broccoli florets on another baking sheet and tucks that into the oven in the last 15 minutes of cooking time to create a full meal. While the food cooks, you can toss together a green salad, if you feel like it.

But Klein wasn’t finished. Don’t want the cheese or just want a variation? She recommends spreading a thin layer of honey mustard on the salmon before adding the breadcrumbs for a twist.

This dish, which got raves from my colleagues, is definitely now in my weeknight rotation, but it also just might become my next casual dinner-party main dish. It’s that pretty and that tasty. Try it.

Hasselback Salmon

Make Ahead: The fish can be sliced and seasoned, tightly covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day in advance before baking.

Storage: Refrigerate the cooked fish for up to 2 days and the chimichurri vinaigrette for up to 3 days (the vinaigrette may lose its color).

NOTE: To make roasted broccoli or cauliflower to go along with the fish, line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease it. Arrange 1 pound (about 5 cups) of broccoli or cauliflower florets on the pan, drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss to coat. Spread the broccoli in a single layer and lightly season with salt and pepper. Transfer the vegetables to the oven about 15 minutes before the salmon is supposed to be done and roast until the vegetables have softened slightly and begun to crisp on top. Serve with lemon wedges and grated parmesan on the side, if desired.

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Ingredients

For the salmon

  • One (2-pound) skin-on fillet of salmon, bones removed
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup (2 1/2 ounces) finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or more as needed) or cooking spray

For the vinaigrette

  • 1 cup fresh parsley or cilantro, leaves and tender stems
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Fine salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Water, as needed (optional)

Step 1

Make the salmon: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 425 degrees.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and transfer the salmon to the sheet, skin side down. Using a sharp knife, make about 15 horizontal slits in the fish 1/2 to 3/4 inch apart, being careful not to cut through the skin. (The size of the pan and the number of slits will vary depending on the dimensions of your fillet.) Make one long, lengthwise slice down the center of the salmon, again being sure not to cut through the skin. Season the fish with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the pepper.

Step 2

Finely zest the lemon, reserving the citrus for serving. In a medium bowl, mix together the parmesan, panko, garlic powder, the remaining salt and the zest until well combined.

Sprinkle the panko mixture over the fish, tucking it into the cuts and grooves and lightly pressing it so it sticks to the salmon. Drizzle the fish lightly with oil or spray with cooking spray.


Step 3

Transfer the fish to the oven and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the fish is golden and crisp on top. The cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the fish and preference for doneness. You can peek at the thickest slits to determine if the fish needs to cook longer. Slice the lemon into six wedges.

Step 4

Make the chimichurri vinaigrette: While the fish is roasting, in the bowl of a food processor or in a blender, combine the parsley or cilantro, vinegar, olive oil, garlic and oregano, and pulse to desired chunkiness. If the sauce is too thick, add more oil or water, 2 teaspoons at a time. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed. (Alternatively, you can finely chop the ingredients by hand and whisk together in a large bowl or roughly chop them and use an immersion blender to puree.)

Serve the fish family-style, with the sauce and lemon wedges on the side.


Nutrition Information

Per serving (3 slices salmon, 2 tablespoons chimichurri vinaigrette)

Calories: 298; Total Fat: 23 g; Saturated Fat: 5 g; Cholesterol: 40 mg; Sodium: 563 mg; Carbohydrates: 6 g; Dietary Fiber: 1 g; Sugar: 1 g; Protein: 16 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.


Adapted from “Prep and Rally” by Dini Klein (Harvest, 2022).

Tested by Joe Yonan and Ann Maloney; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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