From America's Test Kitchen Season 1: How to Cook Salmon
Cooking an entire side of salmon in the oven often results in fish that is either soggy or chalky. We wanted to pull off a crowd-pleasing side of salmon that is moist and firm, with a golden crumb crust that contrasts with the flavorful fish. Most of the time, we achieve a crisp crust on salmon through pan-searing in a skillet on the stovetop. With a crumb crust, it made sense to use the broiler. A plain bread crumb-topping seemed bland, but when we toasted the crumbs and mixed in crushed potato chips and chopped dill, the result was a crisp and flavorful coating. To get the crumb mixture to adhere to the fish, we relied on a thin layer of mustard. One problem: the crust burned by the time the fish was cooking through. We switched gears and broiled the fish almost unadorned (save for salt, pepper, and a bit of olive oil) until it was nearly done, then spread on the mustard and crumbs for a second run under the broiler to crisp the crust. To get the fish onto a platter in one piece, we lined a baking sheet with heavy-duty foil before adding the fish, creating a sling with which we could move it. Our two-step broiling method resulted in firm, moist fish and a flavorful crunchy topping.
Serves 8 to 10
Heavy-duty foil measuring 18 inches wide is essential for creating a sling that aids in transferring the cooked fillet to a cutting board. Use a large baking sheet so that the salmon will lie flat. If you can’t get the fish to lie flat, even when positioning it diagonally on the baking sheet, trim the tail end. If you prefer to cook a smaller 2-pound fillet, ask to have it cut from the thick center of the fillet, not the thin tail end, and begin checking doneness a minute earlier.