We have a major divide in this house on Fish Friday: those who love salmon (me), those who like it fine (the boys), and those who merely tolerate it, which sometimes can descend into hostility toward it (Tim). This can be problematic for the cook (me) who loves it, but wants to please everyone (read: my husband). So when I do make it, I want to make sure it’s very good. I’m hoping to convince him eventually that salmon can be pretty delicious.
In the introduction, Alison Roman admits to the same feelings of ambivalence toward salmon as my husband. But then she tried the slow roasting technique described in this recipe. “That is the salmon that has mad me a person who not only tolerates the fish, but craves and makes it for herself. What a world!” she writes.
I thought this recipe might do the trick to convince Tim that salmon can be excellent. It’s very simple, but I’ve found the best fish dishes don’t over-complicate things. Once you slow roast the salmon, it sits on a delightful bed of charred spring onions in a mixture of soy sauce, orange juice, lemon juice and zest.
Great, right? Well, the reaction was once again slightly underwhelming. It looks like there’s more work to be done on the salmon front.
My only criticism is I thought the salmon was slightly underdone. (I say this with trepidation and also with the caveat that I love sushi, so uncooked fish does not trouble me.) I just thought it could have gone in the oven for a bit longer than she prescribed, and indeed I did add a bit of time to the 10-12 minutes she suggested and it was still a little too underdone for my taste.
However, I liked the rest of it so much that I will try this again. My quest to convince Tim of the wonders of salmon continues.
In honour of Fish Friday, here’s another fish recipe from Half Baked Harvest. While Kirstin has had good luck with her salmon recipes, I can’t say we had the same experience with this one.
I always love a tray baked dinner. Nigella excels at them. There’s minimal intervention needed once everything gets on the tray, and there’s minimal cleanup once it’s all cooked too. All in all, a win-win for a weeknight dinner.
This one starts out perfectly– you start by roasting the new potatoes, which have been tossed in olive oil. Once they’ve had their head start, you add the asparagus (now in season! huzzah!), toss them in olive oil and then scatter grated parmesan over the top, which truly is a genius move and one that I’ll be doing again.
Where things go terribly wrong is with the salmon. For this recipe, she has you make a spice mixture with honey and an array of spices (everything from basil to smoked paprika) to smother on top of the salmon when you put it in the oven to roast. I’m here to tell you that if you’re roasting fresh salmon, you honestly don’t need any of that stuff on top to begin with, but also, this particular mixture just doesn’t work and is, frankly, not tasty. Nicholas (15) really hated it and ended up scraping it off his salmon, which he then happily ate. It was just a bit yuck and unfortunately made what would have been a delicious dinner a not-particularly-appetizing one.
So while I will be roasting new potatoes and asparagus tossed in parmesan along with some fish again, there’s no way I’ll ruin it by doing this spice mixture again. Lesson learned.
Kirstin: We have salmon every week. It’s usually a tried and trusted recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow’s book as it’s easily put together and has fresh tasting, clean Asian flavours. I used to make teriyaki salmon frequently too because our two love teriyaki but I got bored of cleaning out the saucepan every time. And then we tried sea bass for a while too, but it doesn’t have all those fishy oils that are so good for us.
So back to this salmon. Picture the scene. We’ve just returned from a week of sun, sea and salads in Sicily. It’s England. It’s raining, it’s cold, Drumpf has just insulted our mayor and I’m not impressed. So I wanted something quick and easy to try with our salmon this week. I’d favourited this recipe a good long time ago and saved it to my “recipe box”. I’m usually not very good at the tasting things until it’s right, which is what this recipe calls for when you mix the mustard and brown sugar (I’m the same with the piano; I like music to play and can’t improvise at all). But I gave it a go and was surprised at how easy it was to get a taste I liked.
Did we like it? Ella ate all of hers which is TOTAL WIN! This calls for celebration. So Yes. I shall make it again. And I’ve been looking for easy recipes to take on holiday. This would definitely fit the bill for that too.
And I’m sorry I don’t have any pictures of the meal. So instead, here are some doughnut peaches from the food market at Siracusa.
Kirstin: We have been away for the weekend, having an ace time in the Cotswolds, eating and drinking at all the pubs. And I mean ALL the pubs. So I have to say I was looking forward to some simple fish and salad. After finally finishing the unpacking I started to make this and you know when you just KNOW when you are making a recipe. Just KNOW that the recipe is a winner. This was the case with THIS recipe. All my favourite ingredients. Beautifully simple. And with salmon too. One of the reasons I adore this book is the wonderful use of jalapeño with everything and the other is the use of Turkish chile with everything else (or at least with the recipes I have chosen to make). She also uses skillets quite a lot which we don’t really use in the UK very often, but I am learning to figure it out (I made her caramelized lemon chicken yesterday but the picture was even worse than this one if you can imagine). So yes. Make this recipe. Add the jalapeño chillies. And enjoy. Again and again. You will love.
One of the things I love about this book already is that Ina Garten makes no apologies for using butter, cheese, double cream and other yummy things in her dishes. In a world full of “Clean Eating” tomes– particularly in January– Garten’s attitude is a breath of fresh air.
Saying that, this recipe doesn’t use any of those things. In fact, it might even be considered (whisper it) a little bit healthy. But I made it for my family anyway. It is January, after all, and while we’re not detoxing or dieting or doing anything similar, we still did have a lot of rich delicious meals over the holidays, so it’s time to reign it in somewhat.
The roasted salmon was delicious and easy. You get one large piece of salmon and cover it in chipotle chile powder and lime zest. Here in the UK, I couldn’t source chipotle chile powder, but I do have a chipotle sauce, so I used that instead. Then you roast it for 12-15 minutes. It’s super easy.
It’s a clever take on traditional tacos, using salmon like that. However, we were all less convinced by the coleslaw that went with it. No one really liked the shredded cabbage with cucumber and dill. (I didn’t mind it, but I was very much in the minority.)
When I make this again, I will again roast the salmon in chipotle, but I think I’d serve it with iceberg lettuce and maybe some tomatoes, like a traditional taco. The simple guacamole I made to go with it was also good.