This easy pecan-crusted salmon is topped with pecans and a maple bourbon sauce, and then baked to juicy, flaky perfection.
Any true bourbon lover probably knows that one nut rises above the rest.
One nut in particular pairs so well with this earthy distilled spirit, that it's as if it was made to be soaked in bourbon.
Which nut? It is, of course, the nut that graces the top of chocolate bourbon balls.
Happily, both pecans and bourbon pair incredibly well with one of my favorite fish, salmon.
This tasty pecan-crusted salmon is coated in the bourbon and pecan topping, and then baked to juicy, flaky perfection.
What Type of Salmon Should I Use?
My favorite type of salmon to use in this recipe is sockeye salmon, because it's has a stronger flavor that helps balance out the sweet topping.
That said, any type of salmon will work.
How to Make Pecan-Crusted Salmon
If this recipe looks complicated-- don't worry! It's simple!
First, you'll make the bourbon and maple sauce. It only takes a few minutes, but needs your full attention.
Start by bringing the maple syrup to a boil, and then simmer it until it darkens to a deep amber.
Next, add a little bourbon and balsamic vinegar.
Simmer for a few minutes to thicken the mixture.
Next, add chopped pecans and Panko breadcrumbs to the sauce.
Stir to mix it all together.
Refrigerate the breadcrumb and sauce mixture for a few minutes.
This will help it harden up, and make it easier to spread.
Next, use a spoon to layer the pecan mixture on top of salmon fillets.
Finally, bake it.
Pecan-Crusted Salmon with Bourbon
- 2 salmon fillets (~4oz per person)
- pinch sea salt
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup bourbon
- ½ cup pecans, finely chopped
- ¼ cup plain Panko breadcrumbs
- diced green onion, parsley, and or basil to serve (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.Pat salmon dry, and then sprinkle it with salt. Add salmon to a baking dish or lined baking sheet, and set in the fridge until you're ready to use it.
- Next, pour balsamic vinegar and bourbon together and set aside. Keep the balsamic-bourbon mixture within arm's reach, so that you can grab it quickly when the syrup is ready.Pour maple syrup into a small, heavy bottom pot and turn heat to medium. In about 1-2 minutes, the syrup should start to bubble. Stir until the syrup darkens in color and turns amber (about 3 more minutes). The caramelizing syrup will be VERY hot. Do not touch it or attempt to taste it at this point.
- Carefully, standing back from the pot in case of splash-back, pour the balsamic and bourbon mixture into the pot with the syrup. Stir, and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Take sauce off the heat, and set aside.
- Pour the pecans and breadcrumbs into the pot with the bourbon sauce, and stir together. Set the mixture in the fridge for 10 minutes, until it's cooled and hardened slightly.
- Take the salmon out of the fridge, and the pecan mixture out of the fridge or freezer. Use a spoon to divide the pecan mixture over the top of the salmon, and smooth it out into an even layer. Depending on the size of your salmon, you might end up with extra topping. Any extra can be put in an airtight container and refrigerated for a few days, or frozen for a few months.
- Bake salmon on the center rack for about 9 minutes per inch of thickness. Top salmon with fresh herbs if desired, and serve immediately.
- Make sure you're using Panko breadcrumbs, not regular breadcrumbs. Panko breadcrumbs are larger and will crisp up better.
- If your fish is done cooking but the topping isn't crisp yet, use your oven's broiler for about 2 minutes to crisp up the topping a little. (Watch the fish carefully while broiling and be careful not to burn the topping.)