My new job as a baker means lots of new side effects! Here are some of them:
1. Muscles! Whereas I couldn’t even lift one initially, I can now carry 50 lb. bags of flour across a room without breaking a sweat. Progress!
2. Back pain! Or stiff joints/tense shoulders/tense everything. Professional baking is like a sport- it’s athletic, physical and it requires endurance. I ice sore muscles after work, and yoga helps, too.
3. Grandma! And by this I mean: my new schedule has me yawning and in bed by 8 PM and up at 4:30 AM, leaving parties early, cancelling plans because I’m too tired to follow through with them and, when I catch up with my friends, listening bemusedly (to all of their stories and realities which seem miles away from mine.
4. No sweet tooth! Alright, this one’s not entirely true. But working in a bakery means I’ve pretty much lost my desire for sweet things. Now, I crave meat, chicken, fish and vegetables and I crave those foods always; part of it is, I think, my body demanding healthier sustenance to supply it with the nutrients and stamina I need for the job. The other part of it is my taste buds rebelling against the overload of butter and sugar. Give me all the protein, all the salty, anything as long as it isn’t sweet!
Number four is where this salmon comes in. I’ve been eating lots of meat lately but I’m trying to balance out all the bloody red stuff with proteins that are a little bit better for me. I like eating wild salmon and knowing that I’m not ingesting harmful pollutants, contaminants or antibiotics. But wild salmon is leaner than farmed salmon, so it needs to be cooked a bit differently to ensure it comes out just as tasty.
My favorite way to cook wild salmon (other than grilling it) is marinating it to infuse it with flavor and roasting it on a bed of vegetables. Here, I marinate the salmon in an acid based mixture- the white wine and lemon tenderize the flesh of the salmon, and herbs and olive oil add flavor that seeps into the fish. I don’t marinate it for too long, or the acids would denature the salmon; they’d change the shape of the proteins and and unravel them, essentially cooking the fish, somewhat like a ceviche. 2 hours is just enough time to flavor the fish and not cook it.
After I marinate the salmon, I roast the vegetables on a tray. I like the combination of tart tomatoes, asparagus, sweet corn and juicy zucchini. It feels fresh and summery. The vegetables roast first, alone, as they need more time than the fish does, and I let them get a little charred. There’s a lemon in there, too, because I love roasted lemons, and it pulls in some of the flavors of the marinade.
When the vegetables are done, I lower the temperature, slide the tray out, top them with the marinaded salmon fillets and let it all roast together for around ten minutes. You don’t want to overcook wild salmon or it’ll get really tough, as there’s none of the fat in it that farmed salmon has. It should still look pink inside, and flake with a fork.
I love that this is all done on one sheet tray and that it’s mostly hands off time. Leftovers keep in the fridge for a delicious next day lunch, and this is amenable to changes; use herbs you like or vegetables you have on hand. You can make this with farmed salmon too; just increase the roasting time for the salmon by a few minutes.
Work is great. The side effects are mostly great. This salmon is great! Enjoy it.
Why I love this recipe: wild Sockeye salmon, brighter, more flavorful and leaner than farmed, is marinaded in an herb-full, pesto-like sauce, with lemon juice and white wine to soften and tenderize the flesh. The seasonal summer vegetables are roasted separately first, so they can fully cook and are then topped with the marinaded salmon for the last few minutes, allowing the fish to cook up quick and moist as it infuses the vegetables beneath it with herbs and garlic.
For the salmon and herb marinade:
- 4 pieces wild Sockeye salmon, skin on
- 1/2 cup light olive oil
- juice of one large lemon
- 1/4 cup good, dry white wine
- 3-4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
- 1/3 cup chopped, fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon dried or fresh thyme
- 3/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
- fresh ground black pepper
For the roasted summer vegetables:
- 1/2 large zucchini, sliced
- kernels from 2 freshly shaved cobs of corn
- 1 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
- 10 stalks asparagus, ends trimmed
- 1/2 lemon, sliced
- 2 tablespoons good olive oil
- 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- fresh basil, for serving
- Combine all the liquid ingredients for the marinade. Add the garlic, basil and the parsley, the dry spices and whisk well to combine.
- Put the salmon slices in a bowl and cover with the herb marinade. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate and let marinate for 2 hours.
- Shortly before you remove the salmon from the fridge, preheat the oven to 425°F. Toss all the prepared vegetables with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast on a sheet pan for 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, remove the salmon and let it come to room temperature. When the vegetables have finished roasting, remove the sheet pan from the oven.
- Put the salmon pieces, skin side down, oven the vegetables. Drizzle with a bit of the remaining marinade; toss the remaining marinade.
- Return the tray with the salmon to the oven. Lower the heat to 400°F. Roast for 11-13 minutes.
- Remove. Serve with fresh basil.