October 26, 2022

Recipe: Harissa-Baked Wild King Salmon Fillets

This brain-healthy king salmon recipe showcases the North African flavors of harissa

Harissa salmon.

The flavors of North African Harissa Spice Blend meet brain-health-boosting king salmon in this recipe. Don’t be afraid to increase the chili pepper in this dish if you like a bit more of a kick, as the salmon’s richness and fat content soothe the heat and create a harmonious balance.


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  • 1 tablespoon parsley, fresh, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Harissa Spice Blend (see recipe below)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon peel, finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, coarse ground
  • 4 pieces (3 ounces each) wild sockeye salmon fillets, skinless, boneless, bias cut


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon parsley with olive oil, garlic, Harissa Spice Blend, lemon peel and juice, salt and pepper. Stir until well blended.
  3. Spread a quarter of the harissa mixture (about 2 teaspoons) evenly over the top of each salmon fillet.
  4. Spray a 12-by-8-inch rimmed baking sheet with nonstick coating. Place the fillets about an inch apart on the prepared sheet.
  5. Roast the salmon until the fillets feel almost firm to the touch and are just cooked through, about 12 minutes.
  6. Garnish the fillets with some chopped parsley before serving.

Note: This method of preparing salmon is also excellent for grilling outdoors, as the small pieces will cook quickly, which reduces the risk of burning. Always use a grill fitted with a cover. If there isn’t a thermometer fitted into the lid to gauge internal temperature, be sure to have an area with no coals to cook fish without burning.

Ingredient health benefits

The ingredients in this dish are big on benefits for both your brain and your heart:

  • Salmon: Fish is a staple of brain-healthy diet. Its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for learning and memory. Salmon in particular has some of the highest levels of omega-3s, with more than 500 milligrams per 3-ounce serving.
  • Extra virgin olive oil: A staple of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil provides healthy unsaturated fats. And extra virgin olive oil specifically has more beneficial antioxidants than regular or light olive oil.
  • Garlic: An antioxidant-rich food, garlic offers multiple health benefits, including reducing inflammation, boosting immunity and improving heart health.
  • Harissa spice blend: With more heart-healthy garlic, plus antioxidant-rich cumin, and the red pepper addition from both paprika and red chili flakes offering brain-boosting anthocyanins, this tasty mix of spices packs a healthy punch.

Nutrition information (per serving)

Calories: 425
Sodium: 606 mg
Sugar: 0.5 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Saturated fat: 4.1 g
Fiber: 2.7 g
Protein: 35.4 g
Total carbohydrate: 5.8 g


Recipe: Harissa Spice Blend

Harissa is a fabulous Middle Eastern spice mix that has evolved since the 16th-century Spanish occupation of North African countries that incorporated chili peppers into their cuisine. As it may be hard to find at some grocers, we put together this harissa spice recipe. To grind the caraway seeds, you can use a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. There’s a time-honored feeling when putting pressure on the pestle while rotating it in the mortar that’s been used this way since 35,000 BCE, and a good amount of functional exercise! A spice grinder is a great kitchen tool to have, especially when you want to grind seeds and spices quickly.


  • 4 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon paprika, smoked
  • 1 tablespoon cumin, ground
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes


  1. Grind caraway seeds and red chili flakes in mortar and pestle or spice grinder. If neither is available, you can fine-chop with a chef’s knife.
  2. Combine with remaining ingredients and store in a tightly sealed container.

Nutrition information (per serving)

Makes 5 tablespoons
Serving size = 1/4 teaspoon

Calories: 20
Sodium: 389 mg
Sugar: 0.02 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Saturated fat: 0.01 g
Fiber: 1.8 g
Protein: 0.9 g
Total carbohydrate: 2.8 g


— Recipe created by Jim Perko Sr., CEC, AAC; adapted from the What to Eat When cookbook.

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