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Fennel and Herb Salmon Fillet (Fennel Seed)

In this recipe, fennel seed, Mexican oregano and red pepper flakes are combined with black pepper to create a flavorful and aromatic rub that balances the richness of the salmon while complementing the hints of smoke that the fish acquires on the grill. Fennel seed adds a delicate, refreshing licorice taste, reminiscent of anise, while Mexican oregano contributes an intense herbal aroma and bold flavor, with hints of anise and sage. If you cannot find a large salmon fillet, use two smaller ones.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp. fennel seed
  • 1 tsp. Mexican oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp. peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1 salmon fillet, 3 1/2 to 4 lb., with skin, pin bones removed
  • 3 lemons, halved

Directions:

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect grilling over medium heat.

In a spice grinder, combine the fennel seed, oregano and red pepper flakes and pulse 5 to 10 times to crack the fennel. Add the peppercorns and pulse 3 to 5 times to crack the peppercorns; do not grind completely. Pour the spice rub into a small bowl and stir in the salt. Set aside.

Tear off a piece of aluminum foil slightly more than twice the length of the salmon fillet. Fold the foil in half crosswise and fold up the edges to create a 1-inch rim. Prick the foil with a fork in 5 places to allow heat to circulate. Generously brush the foil with olive oil. Place the salmon, skin side down, on the foil and brush with the 1 Tbs. olive oil. Sprinkle the spice rub evenly over the salmon, pressing the mixture into the flesh.

Place the salmon with the foil on the grill rack, away from the heat source. Cover the grill and cook until the salmon flesh flakes when a knife is inserted into the thickest part, 15 to 30 minutes. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, place the lemon halves, cut side down, on the grill.Transfer the salmon with the foil and the lemons to a carving board or baking sheet. Carefully slide 2 spatulas between the salmon flesh and the skin, ease the flesh from the skin and place the fish on a large platter; discard the skin. Squeeze the juice from 2 of the grilled lemon halves over the fish. Cut each of the remaining lemon halves into 4 wedges and arrange on the platter. Serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Roasting, by Rick Rodgers, Melanie Barnard & Bob & Colleen Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2004).