This almond-flour crusted salmon (or steelhead) is a versatile and flavorful alternative to fish with a wheat-flour-based coating. The coating can be made with as few as five ingredients – definitely under ten! – or you can season as liberally as your heart desires. It’s a quick prep, a tasty dinner with your favorite sides and good in other recipes later.
If you have seen my post on Beef Barbacoa Taco Sliders, you know that we are on the hunt for fun toppings for street tacos. In the case of fish tacos, the chunks of fish are often breaded, which gives them lots of flavor and crunch but makes them unavailable for the gluten-free eater. The coating holds lots of your favorite seasonings right next to each bite of the fish, making the whole taco more flavorful.
In our house these days, the easiest “breading” is a crust of almond flour, herbs and salt, seared in olive oil for crispness.
In general, nuts and seeds make wonderful and healthful toppings. If you are avoiding tree nuts, both sunflower and pepita (pumpkin) seeds work great for this dish.
Seasonings and meal planning
Once you have decided to go the almond flour route, you have lots of options for varying the seasoning for these fillets. You can use typical herbs of Mexican cuisine like oregano or cumin, or the spices of Indian cuisine such as turmeric or curry.
When you buy a large piece of fish, as I often do when shopping at Costco, I like to prep the fish once and eat it more than once, so I made a very mild general seasoning choice with salt, pepper, garlic and oregano.
In this case, I knew I was going to make a 2-pound-plus piece of wild salmon into three meals. The first would be as-roasted, served with sides like baked olive-oil potatoes and greens and/or broccoli for Fish Friday. It’s always crispiest and tenderest right after the roasting process, and the crust is most noticeable then. It comes out almost like snack food, and the only challenge is NOT to eat it all before we can save what’s needed for the other meals.
What other meals can I make with almond-crusted salmon?
The second meal is street tacos for Taco Tuesday. We like our favorites for those: Tacos with amazing organic tortillas with toppings thinly sliced cabbage and other vegetables, guac, feta, etc.
Third, my eaters usually like a meal that is not “fishy” – sorry, fish-fans, this is not me speaking as I love all options. This time, the third meal was a delicious steelhead chowder that made use of the leftover roasted potatoes, plus corn and spinach I had in the freezer.
Meal and cooking options
This is a one-pan meal in my kitchen but it will depend on what cookware you have. I use one of my favorites – a Cuisinart stainless steel “clad” pan.
With stainless steel I can sear the fish on both sides, then bake it in a 425 degree oven, with just the one pan. It’s amazingly easy to clean – yay!
I just didn’t want to sear in one pan and then bake in another (lazy alert). You certainly could make the recipe that way with a nonstick skillet and a glass baking dish, which is often how I’ve made it.
What Other fish can I use for this crusted fish dish?
Any firm fish that can be seared would work with this almond-flour coating. Fish that are very tasty but would probably not hold up in this process include tilapia and sole. Fish that work well include cod, flounder, mahi mahi and opah.
I like to work with fresh fish when possible, and in Denver that usually has me shopping at Costco where I alternate between wild salmon (sparingly) and steelhead trout (usually farmed, and used more often).
I believe that, according to the Monterey Bay Fisheries Sustainability List, these are my best options, given their points.
- wild salmon, though excellent, nutritious and with a high omega-3 content, is not a sustainable catch
- farmed salmon, while sustainable, does not retain the high-quality omega 3 fatty acids found in wild salmon, and contain high amounts of PCB’s so overall are not nutritious
- farmed Steelhead trout, which keeps its excellent nutritional profile of good omega-3’s, and is closely related to salmon, is tasty and affordable.
How to work with steelhead fillets
If you use steelhead, expect a wonderful, rich-tasting fish – perfect for most people – with skin on one side of each beautiful long fillet. The skin is sometimes seen as a nuisance. As you first cook the skin side of the fish, it releases high-quality omega 3 fatty acids that you not only want to EAT but that keep you from needing much oil in the cooking process. If you do not plan to eat the skin, it’s very easy to remove once you have done the first sear step.
Some people love fish skin and others expect it to be gone when the fish is served. This is how to deal with the skin of steelhead. When steelhead is seared, skin-side-down, for 3-4 minutes, the skin will become loosened from the fish. The easiest strategy is to sear the fish in the pan that you will use for the meal; allow to cool for about 3-5 minutes; slide a spatula between the skin and the meat to lift the fish off the skin, then discard the skin unless you have an eater who will really enjoy it.
I hope that if you make this recipe you will let me know how it went in the comments!
Enjoy these fish recipes on A Meal In Mind
Kitchen items used in this recipe
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Almond Flour Crusted Salmon
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried herb of choice - oregano thyme, etc.
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 – 4 ounce salmon or steelhead fillets see note about skin
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- lemon wedges for serving
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- In a shallow bowl mix the almond flour, garlic powder, dried herbs, paprika, sea salt, and pepper.
- Press salmon fillets into the seasoned almond flour mixture. Sprinkle a little more onto both sides of fillets.
- Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoonful of oil and sear one side of salmon for 3-5 minutes or until almond flour just starts to brown. Flip fillets gently and sear for 3-5 more minutes.
- Place the skillet into the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the salmon flakes and the almond flour is browned and slightly crispy on both sides.
- Baking time will depend on how thick the fillets are and how done the fish already is when you place it in the oven!
- If using steelhead, sear the fillets skin-side down for about 3 minutes and allow to cool slightly. Use a thin spatula to lift the fillets off the skin. Reserve the skin or discard depending on the preferences of your diners, and return to the recipe.