Photo by Dana Gallagher

Italians usually buy local whenever possible, particularly when it comes to fish. Salmon is not native to Italy so it’s rarely seen on restaurant menus and tends to be one of the least popular fishes at the market.  It’s unfortunate because salmon lends itself perfectly to the Italian style of preparation: a simple cooking method with a light-handed use of flavors and herbs.  Salmon’s rich, almost unctuous flavor make herbs an excellent accompaniment for it.  I like poaching salmon and serving it with a savory green sauce of parsley, capers, anchovies and olive oil.  I also often teach it baked in a foil with fresh tomatoes, parsley and oregano, which I’ve dubbed “Aromatic Salmon in a Pouch”.  But most often I grill it and top it with a parsley, thyme, lemon and olive oil sauce.  Michela, our six-year old daughter, loves “salmon fish” as she calls it, and this is one of her favorite dishes.  It is so simple, and yet so satisfying.  I coat the salmon with a little olive oil and sprinkle it with fine dry breadcrumbs before grilling it.  It gives it a tender crust while keeping the inside moist.  To make the sauce, I first whisk the salt and lemon juice together to dissolve the salt, then add the herbs and olive oil.  It’s a dish Lael and I enjoy with a young, fruity red wine, such as a Dolcetto, a Valpolicella, or a Morellino di Scansano.  What are some of your favorite ways to prepare salmon?

Grilled Salmon with Thyme and Parsley Sauce

(From How to Cook Italian by Giuliano Hazan)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


2 pounds salmon fillet

2 tablespoons flat leaf Italian parsley

2 teaspoons fresh thyme

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

2-3 tablespoons fine dry breadcrumbs

1.  Preheat a charcoal or gas grill.

2.  Put the lemon juice with 1 teaspoon salt in a small bowl.  Mix together thoroughly, with a small whisk or a fork, until the salt has dissolved.  Chop the parsley and thyme and add it to the bowl.  Whisk in 4 tablespoons of the olive oil until emulsified

3.  Season the fish with salt and pepper and coat it with the breadcrumbs.  Drizzle the remaining olive oil on the salmon and place it on the grill.  Cook the fish for a total of about 5 minutes per inch of thickness, turning the fillets halfway through the cooking time.  When salmon is done it should flake but still be somewhat pink in the center.  Transfer to a serving platter, pour the sauce over it and serve at once.