It's Saturday morning, the light is changing, and it almost feels like spring! Daylight Savings Time begins tomorrow and (sadly) there's barely any snow on the ground in Ketchum, which helps enhance the whole spring feeling. Highs in the 50s here today, 70s in the Bay Area, and 80s in LA so I'm guessing this feeling is widespread. (Sorry east coast. The good thing is you aren't in a drought like those out west, but the spring feeling will have to wait. Live vicariously. Cook with fresh herbs!)
So in the spirit of the day, it seems suitable to share a dish that's delicious in the winter (it is only the beginning of March, after all) but has the essence of spring- my Roasted Herbed Salmon. With the changing of the seasons it can be hard to find ingredients that embody the newfound warm weather since there haven't yet been enough warm days for them to grow! Fish with fresh herbs that are available year-round in most places are a great solution. I constantly fiddle with new recipes, but this salmon is one of the few things I make over and over again without changing a thing.
The two complaints I hear most often about salmon is that it is too strong, and can become dry. Getting fresh beautiful salmon is a bit spottier in landlocked Ketchum, Idaho, than in California, but hot tip for Marin folks out there: the freshest wild salmon in the Bay Area can be found Saturday mornings (that's today!) at the Marin Country Mart farmers market, from Santa Rosa Seafood. With perfectly fresh fish, the strong "fishy" flavor isn't there. And as for keeping the fish moist, simply place a shallow pan of water in the oven before preheating and leave it in there while you cook. This elevates the level of moisture in the air, and unless you overcook the heck out of the thing, your fish won't dry out.
I often see salmon recipes with sweet and creamy sauces and marinades, but I find that they tend to overwhelm the natural flavor of really fresh fish. In this recipe I balance the richness of the salmon with bright herbs, and enhance the natural sweetness with delicate shallots.
I suggest serving the fish with a simple green salad dressed with a lemon vinaigrette. And if you need a little extra heartiness, quinoa makes a great side dish. Or try some steamed baby potatoes tossed with extra vinaigrette from your salad. Or a crusty piece of bread. And if you have leftovers, the salmon and these sides are great at room temperature the next day, and are quite portable. Enjoy the weather! And pack your picnic basket.
ROASTED HERBED SALMON
- 2 lbs wild salmon fillets, skin-on
- 1/2 cup shallots, finely diced
- 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, minced
- 3 tablespoons dill, minced
- 1 tablespoon tarragon, minced
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and place a shallow pan of water inside.
Mix the shallots, herbs, lemon zest, and oil together in a small bowl.
Rub the salmon fillets with EVOO and place skin-side down in a Pyrex baking dish. Season with sea salt and black pepper, then top the fillets with the herb mixture. Season again with salt and pepper.
Place the salmon in the oven with the pan of water, and roast for approximately 15-25 minutes depending on thickness of fish. To see if it is done, check between the flakes- the center will still be slightly translucent.