- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 11, 2006

My husband and I will rise early Easter morning and hide a few dozen pale-hued eggs in our back yard. A couple of hours later, our two grandchildren will arrive.

Like last year, when we held our first egg hunt for the children, we’ll stand on the sidelines and watch the delight, as the little ones discover the hidden eggs tucked under rocks, stashed in flower beds and not-so-well hidden in the bushes. This scene, of course, will be repeated in countless yards around the country.

Easter egg searches and church services are on many families’ schedules for Easter, and for those of us hosting lunch, there won’t be much free time for cooking. That’s my dilemma, so I’ve planned a simple menu.

Panko-crusted salmon fillets will be the centerpiece, along with asparagus dusted with sea salt and roasted red-skin potatoes sprinkled with snipped chives. For dessert, I’ll buy lemon tarts from a bakery and embellish them with sprigs of fresh mint and blueberries.

The delectable roasted salmon with its crusty coating is a new recipe in my files. I’ve long been a fan of panko, the crispy Japanese bread crumbs, and have used it as the Japanese do, as a breading for pan-fried pork or chicken. This time, though, I’ll toss the crumbs in a little olive oil along with lime zest and hot red pepper flakes, mound the mixture atop salmon fillets, then roast the fish.

In the oven, the flesh of the salmon will turn opaque and start to flake while the bread crumbs become a rich, golden brown. The fish and the bread crumbs cook in less than a quarter of an hour — about all the time I’ll be able to spare on this busy Sunday.

Panko roasted salmon

4 6-ounce salmon fillets, about 3/4- to 1-inch thick

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup panko bread crumbs (see note)

½ teaspoon lime zest

1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley

4 thin lime slices for garnish

Place salmon fillets, skin side down, on a foil-lined, heavy baking sheet and salt and pepper them to taste.

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together panko, lime zest, 1/4 teaspoon salt and hot red pepper flakes. Add olive oil and stir until bread crumbs are coated with it.

Divide mixture evenly and cover top of each fillet generously with crumbs. (If you have a few bread crumbs left over, toast them in a skillet for a few minutes, stirring until golden, and sprinkle them over cooked vegetables such as broccoli or green beans.)

Place fillets on center rack of preheated 400-degree oven and bake until the flesh is opaque and flakes easily when pierced with knife and topping is golden brown, about 12 minutes or longer. (The thicker the fillets, the longer the roasting time will be.)

Watch carefully, and if after 8 to 10 minutes the bread crumbs start to brown too quickly, cover topping with a sheet of aluminum foil.

When fish is done, remove from oven. Sprinkle each fillet with cilantro or parsley and garnish with a lime slice. Makes 4 servings.

Note: Panko, or Japanese coarse bread crumbs, are available at many supermarkets, including Whole Foods, as well in Asian groceries.


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