This recipe started out as one thing and then turned into something else. My plan was to coat fresh salmon with the spices that are used to cure pastrami. I rubbed my spice mix on the fish and even then I noticed that it was not very black and pastrami-like. After letting the rub sit on the salmon for a while, I simply baked it in the oven. It was only when it was done, and I'd taken it out of the oven, that I realized I'd never added any oil to the fish or the pan! I served it anyway and it was flavorful and moist, without any fat, other than what was naturally in the fish. Feel free to add more black peppercorns to the spice mix if you want more kick.

Serves: 6
Prep Time: 5 minutes to make spice mix; marinate for 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 to 22 minutes
Advance Prep: Spice mix may be made 1 week in advance; fish may be cooked 1 day in advance


  • 3-pound (1.5-kg) salmon fillet, whole or cut into 6 8-ounce (250-g) servings
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon black or yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons juniper berries
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked or regular paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt


Place the coriander seeds, black peppercorns, mustard seeds, juniper berries, and fennel seeds into a coffee grinder or food processor and grind them into small pieces (making sure none are left whole), but not completely into a powder. If you use a food processor and some of the spices are still too big after processing, crush them using a mortar and pestle, or put them in a quart resealable plastic bag and then smash it with a rolling pin. Transfer the ground seeds, peppercorns, and the rest of the mixture into a small bowl. Add the brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cloves, and salt, and mix well.

Spread the spice mix on a plate and press each slice of salmon into the mix to cover it completely. Use all the spice mix.

Place the fish on a roasting pan, leaving space between the pieces. Let the fish sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, covered with plastic wrap, or refrigerate it if you will be cooking it later.

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Bake the salmon for 20 to 22 minutes, 20 minutes if you like it a little pink inside, longer if you want it fully cooked. Serve the fish hot or at room temperature.