Salmon “Kleftiko” (Σολομός Κλέφτικος)
Salmon Kleftiko is a great dish to make if you’re in a hurry. The packets go together quickly and bake for only 15 minutes. Inside the packets, tomatoes and fish juices form a light, flavorful sauce. Cooked this way, even pink salmon stays tender and juicy. Even better, there aren’t any pots to clean. The flavor of pink salmon is mild, so when using pinks, I season with restraint. If I made this dish with king, silver, or red salmon, all of which have stronger flavor than pinks, I’d add a little garlic and Aleppo pepper to the packets. Foil is easier to work with, but individual parchment paper packets make a more attractive presentation. If using foil packets, plate the salmon in the kitchen and pour the juices over the fish. Parchment paper packets may be delivered directly to the table for individual diners to open (be sure to put an empty platter on the table for discarding paper packets). I’m usually too lazy to skin tomatoes, but in this dish I don’t like big pieces of skin. The recipe calls for skinning tomatoes, a quick and easy task but one that can easily be skipped.
10 – 12 small tomatoes or 20 – 24 cherry tomatoes
2 pounds salmon fillets
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 – 3 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
1/4 cup chopped oil-cured black olives
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Cut shallow “X” in bottom of each tomato and drop in boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove tomatoes to cold water and slip off skins. Cut small tomatoes in 1/2” thick slices or cherry tomatoes in half.
Wash salmon and dry it well. Using needle-nosed pliers, remove as many pin-bones from salmon as possible. Skin fillets if necessary and cut into six even-sized pieces. Lightly season salmon on both sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Cut six pieces of aluminum foil twice the length of what is necessary to form packets around salmon. Fold pieces of aluminum foil in half. Lightly oil half of each doubled foil piece. Top oiled foil with piece of salmon. Sprinkle salmon with oregano and chopped olives. Top with tomato slices and salt lightly. Drizzle with olive oil.
Fold the foil around salmon and seal edges tightly by folding the over several times. (The recipe may be made to this point up to 4 hours ahead.) Bake for 15 minutes. Serve immediately.