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Roasted Salmon with Tableside Tadka

Nathan Congleton / TODAY
Cook Time:
15 mins
Prep Time:
15 mins

Chef notes

The "tadka" is a ubiquitous South Asian technique that adds a dramatic last-minute coat of flavor — it's kind of that last piece of jewelry you put on before you leave the house that takes your look from ho-hum to ta-da! I've used fennel seeds and nigella seeds here, but feel free to use what you have. Whole cumin seeds are one of my favorite substitutions.

Technique tip: Slicing into the skin helps render out some salmon fat so you'll get a crispier skin.

Swap option: You could spoon this tadka over any protein or even over roasted vegetables. (Imagine doing a platter of roasted mushrooms or a whole-roasted cauliflower!)


  • 6 (6- to 8-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets, about 1½ inches thick
  • avocado oil spray
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, divided
  • kosher salt
  • tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons ghee
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon nigella seeds or cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 jalapeño or serrano chili, minced (remove seeds and membranes if you prefer less heat)
  • 4-5 scallions, white and green parts sliced thinly on the diagonal, divided
  • 1 lemon, sliced into wedges



Place baking sheet on lowest rack of your oven. Preheat oven to 500 F.


Make four to five shallow cuts (on the diagonal), about 1-inch apart, through skin of salmon fillets. Be careful not to cut into fish. Spray with a little avocado oil.


Grind 1 teaspoon fennel seeds to a fine powder (set remaining 1 teaspoon fennel seeds aside for later). Mix fennel powder with 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Place salmon, skin-side down, on a sheet pan or dish, and sprinkle fennel salt evenly over the fish. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 30 minutes.


Pull the salmon from your fridge and pat it dry with some paper towels to mop up any moisture on the surface of the fish.


Microwave honey to loosen it up a bit. Brush the surface of the fish with honey (or drizzle it on top).


Reduce oven to 275 F. Transfer salmon, skin-side down, to the sheet pan. Slide into the oven, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the fillet registers 125 F.


Remove salmon from the oven and transfer cooked salmon to your platter while you make the tadka.


To make the tadka, warm ghee and olive oil in a medium skillet until it shimmers.


Add remaining 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds along with nigella seeds. Cook for 30 seconds, allowing the fennel seeds to deepen in color and little, then quickly add ginger, jalapeño and scallion whites. Season with a big pinch of salt and sauté until they soften, about 1 minute. Add the scallion greens. Pour the sizzling oil over the salmon at the table for a big presentation! Squeeze a couple of wedges of lemon over the top. Dinner (and a show) is served!