Don’t take the title as an exact description for the cooking procedure for this dish. It involves a bit more preparation than simply slathering cheese on the fish, sprinkling bread crumbs and baking. If you do that, you won’t get the best flavors and textures.
So, do the prep properly. Season the salmon ahead of time and leave to soak up the flavors. You want the seasoning to permeate the fish flesh all the way. Three hours is the minimum for fillets that are about an inch and a half at the thickest portion.
The topping consists of two parts. The first is the cream cheese. Allow it to soften to room temperature so you can easily mix in the spices. Because additional moisture will just ruin the topping, it’s best to use dried spices. Not much. Dried garlic and onion are enough.
The second part of the topping is the crumbs. We use panko at home. Panko by itself is bland. So, the crumbs are tossed in melted salted butter. If you use unsalted butter, just stir a pinch or two of salt into the butter while melting it before adding the bread crumbs.
Now that the toppings have been prepped, the salmon is seared on both sides in a little butter. Searing gives the fish texture and added flavor. It also makes the surface less slippery so that the toppings stay in place better.
The seared salmon fillets go on a baking tray. The cream cheese is spread on top and the buttered bread crumbs are pressed into the cheese. To prevent any part of the salmon from scorching, cover the entire top of the fillets with cheese to create a barrier between the heat and the fish flesh.
With the toppings in place, the salmon goes into the oven. At 400F, it takes only about ten minutes for the salmon to get cooked through, for the cream cheese to soften some more and for the buttered crumbs to brown.
Cheesy baked salmon with crispy crumb topping
- 600 grams salmon fillet
- 2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning
- 175 grams cream cheese - at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
- ½ teaspoon dried garlic flakes
- 3 tablespoons salted butter
- ½ cup panko
- Wipe the salmon fillet with paper towels and rub the lemon pepper seasoning directly on the flesh.
- Marinate in the fridge in a covered container for at least three hours.
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Take the salmon out of the fridge to allow to come to room temperature.
- Mix the cream cheese, onion flakes and garlic flakes.
- Melt two tablespoons butter in a frying pan, add the panko and cook until the crumbs have absorbed all the butter.
- Wipe the frying pan and melt the remaining butter.
- Lay the salmon fillet in the hot butter, skin side up and sear for a minute. Flip and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Arrange in the salmon fillet, skin side down, in a baking tray lined with foil or non-stick paper.
- Spread the cream cheese on the entire top of the salmon.
- Pat the panko into the cream cheese.
- Bake the salmon in the oven for 10 minutes or until the crumbs are browned.
- Serve the cheesy baked salmon with crispy crumb topping with your vegetables of choice.