Updated: Aug 14, 2022
In a previous post, I listed my favorite tips for cooking wild salmon. Here is a super easy recipe that puts them all together, step by step. The sauce adds a creamy finish and requires very little time. Serve with grilled mini peppers, broccoli, and red onion alongside a bowl of basmati rice.
Lemon-Brined Salmon with Tzatziki
by Beth Short-Rhoads Serves 4 to 6
1 1/2 pounds wild Alaska salmon, pinboned and portioned Olive oil 1 green onion, thinly sliced
The brine: 2 cups boiling water 1/4 cup kosher salt
3/4 cup lemon juice (from about 3 lemons) Ice to make 4 cups of liquid
The tzatziki sauce: 1/2 cucumber, grated (remove the seeds if they're large)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tablespoon fresh dill or 3/4 teaspoon dried
Fresh ground pepper and additional salt to taste 1 tablespoon olive oil
Make the brine by combining the boiling water and salt in a quart measuring cup. Stir to dissolve the salt, then add the lemon juice plus enough ice cubes to equal 4 cups. Stir until the ice has melted completely. The brine should now be cool enough to use. Pour over the salmon and marinate for 20 minutes.
Next, make the tzatiki by combining the grated cucumber and salt. Place in a colander and allow to drain for 15 minutes. Whisk the yogurt, garlic, and dill in a bowl. Squeeze any excess liquid from the cucumber, then stir the cucumber into the yogurt. Add fresh pepper to taste along with more salt, if necessary. Swirl in the olive oil, but don't mix all the way (the marbeled look is lovely). Refrigerate.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. When the salmon is done brining, drain completely and blot dry with a paper towel. Drizzle with olive oil, ensuring all the surfaces are coated. Warm a skillet over medium-low heat and coat with cooking spray. When the skillet is hot, place the salmon flesh-side down in the pan and sear until a nice crust has formed, about 3 minutes. Place the salmon on a parchment-lined baking tray. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the salmon is almost done. (Read about signs of doneness in the post below.) Remove from the oven immediately and allow the salmon to rest for 5 minutes—it will finish cooking via residual heat.
Top each salmon portion with a dollop of tzatziki, a drizzle of olive oil, and sliced green onion. Serve with the remaining tzatziki on the side along with grilled vegetables and basmati rice.