Salt-baked steelhead from Heartlandia has revolutionized my outlook on preparing fish at home. This is, hands-down, the most amazing fish I’ve ever cooked at home and it’s up there with some of the best fish I’ve ever eaten, including fancy restaurant fish. Heartlandia’s salt-baked steelhead is easy to throw together, and doesn’t require much clean up or much attention while it cooks. You don’t have to worry about flash-frying or pan-searing and running the risk of leaving the fish 30 seconds too long and overcooking it. It also doesn’t make your apartment smell of fish. The baking process is comparable to the parchment bag technique, only you don’t even need to bother with folding your parchment paper into a bag.
I stumbled across this gorgeous steelhead filet and didn’t really know what to do with it once I brought it home. For the curious, steelhead is the same species as rainbow trout, except steelhead migrate to the ocean. I can make a mean miso-glazed salmon and a great pan-poached Dover sole, but steelhead isn’t a fish I’ve run into very often. Eatyourbooks.com came to my rescue, indicating that the lovely Heartlandia cookbook from Portland-area chefs was one of a few cookbooks with a recipe specifically for steelhead. I was so blown away by how succulent and simple this preparation turned out to be, I’m excited to try more of their American-heartland cuisine.
Original source: Heartlandia
- 1 cup kosher salt
- ½ cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
- 1½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon*
- 1½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon fennel seed, cracked**
- 1½ teaspoons lemon pepper***
- Zest of ½ lemon, finely grated
- Zest of ½ orange, finely grated
- 1½ pound skin-on steelhead fillet
- 1½ tablespoons avocado oil (or extra-virgin olive oil)
- Kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 325 F. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet large enough to fit steelhead filet. Evenly scatter the rock salt over the parchment paper such that filet will fit over it.
- Combine the herbs, zests, pepper, and cracked fennel seed in bowl.
- Put steelhead skin side down on top of the kosher salt you placed on the baking sheet. Gently massage the oil into the filet, then use a little more kosher salt to season the top (~1-2 teaspoons). Gently press the herb mix into the filet.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, until steelhead is just opaque in the center (you may also judge doneness by internal temperature of 145 F, or when the filet flakes easily with a fork).
- Serve immediately or at room temperature.
**Crack fennel by crushing gently with a mortar and pastel.
***If you don't have lemon pepper, ordinary black pepper will work just fine.