America's Test Kitchen: Broiled Salmon with Mustard Crisp Dilled Crust

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America's Test Kitchen Broiled Salmon with Mustard and Crisp Dilled Crust
America's Test Kitchen Broiled Salmon with Mustard and Crisp Dilled Crust
I love seafood. I know some people hate it, but I don't. Despite my love of seafood, salmon is not one of my favorite fishes. Why? Because salmon tends to dry out quickly and easily whereas other fishes tend to be more forgiving and maintain its moisture throughout the cooking process. One thing I learned, however, from the America's Test Kitchen episode Salmon Three Ways (season 1, episode 6) is that you want to under cook the salmon (video below). I've always thought that salmon had to be fully cooked unless it was sushi. This was always difficult for me to do, but this was not the case for this recipe since the cooking time is only 9 to 11 minutes (great for dinner in the middle of the week). 11 minutes for me seemed completely done mainly because my salmon was smaller than the recipe called for weight in at only 1.38 pounds. You want it just a tad undercooked since it'll still go under the broiler for a minute longer. Depending on the size of the salmon fillet, 1 or 2 quick minutes can mean the difference between an overly dry salmon and a perfectly cooked salmon with juices and all.

Sockey salmon from Trader Joe's
Sockey salmon from Trader Joe's
Be aware that when you apply the mustard and potato chip mixture and then crank up the oven to broil, keep a close eye on your salmon. The first time I made this salmon, I made the mistake of walking away from the oven just for a few seconds and before I knew it, the crust had burnt pieces. I was lucky though. I was able to salvage the fish by removing the top layer of burnt pieces and the layer underneath remained nice and toasted still. There was still enough unburnt crust underneath to cover the fish. The amount of time in broil mode will not exceed more than a minute. At the end of the day you still want the middle of the fish to be a bit undercooked and opaque because it'll continue to cook once it's out of the oven.

Seasoning with salt and pepper for your herb-crusted salmon
Salmon seasoned with salt and pepper before adding the mustard, potato chip, and herb crust.
Now there are a wide array of ways to prepare your salmon. You can have pan-seared salmon, grilled salmon, smoked salmon, barbecued salmon, oven roasted salmon, and even water-poached salmon. The beauty of this recipe though lies in the ingredients used. This dish does not need a whole lot of ingredients. Some of these ingredients include breadcrumbs, mustard, and dill, a common pairing for salmon. Then, it also uses potato chips!? Did I just say potato chips? Yes, indeed. That's one reason why I like this. I love snacks and I'm a sucker for chips. That being the case, the potato chips give a nice crunch and subtle saltiness to it. I would've never thought to use potato chips as a crust, but it works! The crust gives you an extra layer of flavor in addition to its crunchy texture. You can use any plain potato chips like Lays, Pringles, or Ruffles, but I prefer the Kettle Chips' Sea Salt flavor. Kettle chips are what I normally get as a snack for my household, and I find that Kettle chips taste better and is of a higher quality than Lays or Ruffles. Then you have the dill and mustard. Dill is to salmon what peanut butter is to jelly. It's ok to use plenty of dill here, but I thought 3 tablespoons of mustard was a little too much so I just used 2 tablespoons which gave me just enough of the mustard flavor to complement the dill and salmon but didn't overpower it. The salmon itself was a sockeye salmon that I got from Trader Joe's, and you could use either a farm raised or wild salmon. It was about 1.38 pounds and came in a vacuum sealed bag. It did have a few bones that you had to remove. When you run your fingers along the edge of the fillet, you'll feel the bones protruding from the fish.

salmon crust: potato chips, dill, toasted breadcrumbs
The crust to be added to your salmon: a mixture of potato chips, dill, toasted breadcrumbs
I served this dish with Ina Garten's (from the Food Network show Barefoot Contessa) roasted asparagus and a plain long grain (jasmine) rice, but you could use any vegetable and starch combination as sides for a complete meal for you and your family.

Broiled salmon meal with asparagus and white rice
Broiled salmon meal with asparagus and white rice.

FlavorFool's Notes

  • Use Sea Salt Kettle Chips and Grey Poupon Dijon mustard.
  • Run your fingers along the edge of the fillet to find any bones to be removed.
  • Depending on the size of your fillet, adjust the amount of time in the oven since you don't want your salmon to overcook and dry out.
  • When your salmon is under the broiler, keep an eye on it to make sure the dill/mustard crust doesn't get burned.
  • I cut the mustard from 3 tablespoons to 2 tablespoons.
  • Broiled Salmon with Mustard and Crisp Dilled Crust Recipe

    America's Test Kitchen - season 1, episode 6, Salmon Three Ways
    Serves 8-10

    If you prefer to cook a smaller 2 lb 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.


    1 whole side salmon fillet, about 3.5 lbs, white belly fat trimmed
    4 oz plain potato chips, crushed into rough 1/8 in pieces (about 1 cup) [I like Kettle Chips Sea Salt since it's what I normally get to snack on anyway]
    3 slices white sandwich bread, torn into quarters
    1 tsp olive oil
    3 tbsp Dijon mustard [I use 2 tbsp Grey Poupon mustard]
    6 tbsp chopped fresh dill
    pepper and salt


    1. Adjust one oven rack to the top position (about 3 in from the heat source) and the second rack to the upper-position; heat the oven to 400 degrees.

    2. Pulse the bread in a food processor to fairly even 1/4 in. pieces about the size of Grape-Nuts cereal (about 1 cup), about ten pulses. Spread the crumbs evenly on a rimmed baking sheet; toast on the lower rack, shaking the pan once or twice, until golden brown and crisp, 4-5 min. Toss the dill, crushed potato chips, and bread crumbs together in a bowl and set aside.

    3. Change the oven setting to broil. Cut a piece of heavy-duty foil 6 in. longer than the fillet. Fold the foil lengthwise in thirds and place lengthwise on a rimmed baking sheet; position the salmon lengthwise on the foil, allowing the excess foil to overhang the baking sheet. Rub the fillet evenly with the olive oil; sprinkle with pepper and salt. Broil the salmon on the upper rack until the surface is spotty brown and the outer half inch of the thick end is opaque when gently flaked with a paring knife, 9-11 min. [11 mins seemed to overcook the fish while 9-10 minutes seemed more appropriate]. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, spread the fish evenly with the Dijon mustard, and press the bread-crumb mixture onto the fish. Return the baking sheet to the lower oven rack and continue broiling until the crust is deep golden brown, about 1 min. longer.

    4. Grasping the ends of the foil sling, lift the salmon, sling and all, onto a platter. Slide on offset spatula under the thick end. Grasp the foil, press the spatula against the foil, and slide it under the fish down to the thin end, loosening the entire side of fish. Grasp the foil again, hold the spatula perpendicular to the fish to stabilize it, and pull the foil out from under the fish. Wipe the platter clean with a damp paper towel. Serve salmon immediately. [All I do from this step is lift the sling/salmon and place them on the serving tray with the foil when serving to family (they don't mind the presentation)]

    Video: Julia Collin Davison shows Chris Kimball how to make Broiled Salmon with Mustard and Crisp Dilled Crust on America's Test Kitchen


    Unknown said...

    Simple, yet delicious. I sometimes substitute cilantro or basil for the dill. It's the perfect quick entree for a last-minute dinner party or one where you need to spend more time on an elaborate dessert.

    FlavorFool said...

    Yes, I totally agree @y_kendall. America's Test Kitchen's recipe for Broiled Salmon with Mustard and Crisp Dilled Crust is simple and delicious. I've never used cilantro or dill as a substitute for dill, but that does sound pretty good. I know some people hate cilantro, but I for one love the fresh flavor it provides.

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