It is wild salmon season and the fish is looking beautiful. At the fish market, the wild salmon sits beside the farmed salmon, and the visual difference is striking. The wild salmon is a psychedelic orange color that glows with an opaque, shiny luster. The farmed salmon is much lighter, much fattier and much less exciting to look at. As far as taste goes, I feel like I can taste farmed salmon a mile away-to me, it tastes vaguely of algae or dirt, and its texture is mushy and fatty. Wild salmon, provided it is of a good quality, has a sweet, mild flavor that is unmatched by anything else. If you see it in the store, and it looks bright, shiny and appealing, buy some to cook for dinner the same night. If you live in an area where you have a fish market and can avoid buying fish that is stored under plastic, which, in addition to being the wrong way to store fish, does not allow you to smell or examine it really well, that is ideal. The best thing to find is a fishmonger that you trust and can talk to. I visit several places, but my favorite is always available to answer any questions and tell me everything I need to know about the fish I am buying.
The challenge when cooking wild salmon, or any fish, is not to overcook it and dry it out. I think the most failsafe method for cooking fish, which works especially well with salmon, is slow-roasting. When you slow-roast a piece of fish, it is almost like you are sneaking up on the fish and cooking it before it notices and has time to seize up or dry out. Before the fish knows it, it is cooked through, but still tender and moist. When I worked at the restaurant, I would make tuna confit and cook it for hours at 275 degrees, which worked brilliantly. When I am cooking dinner at home, however, I don’t usually have hours, so I’ve experimented with slow roasting and found that I can still get good results at 315 degrees without having hours to devote to dinner. The method is super simple: liberally salt and pepper your fish, place in a shallow, lightly oiled pan and drizzle with a bit of white wine or lemon juice. Place in the oven. Depending on the thickness of your fish, and whether you like it medium rare or medium well, it will be tender and cooked through in about 20-30 minutes. My family likes the salmon more cooked rather than less, so I cook it longer. At the restaurant we used to cook it less. Go with what you like. When the salmon is cooked through, it will be tender enough to easily cut with a fork.
The corn relish that is sitting atop this salmon is a recipe that I adapted from some old corn relish recipes that called for cooked corn and canning the relish. I love the idea of a zippy corn relish with a pickled quality, but I also wanted it to be fresh and crunchy. This is super fast and easy to make, keeps well in the refrigerator (actually improves slightly), and will go well on fish, chicken, tacos or as a side dish with a great sandwich. Maybe a sandwich of left-over roasted salmon?
|Slow Roasted Salmon With Zippy Corn Relish||
- FOR THE SALMON:
- 4 6oz pieces of wild salmon
- 1 tsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 lemon or 1 TBLS white wine
- FOR THE CORN RELISH:
- 2 ears organic corn, shucked and kernels cut off of the cob
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
- juice of 2 limes
- 1 tsp agave syrup
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- dash of fresh ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp mustard seed
- 1/4 tsp celery seed
- pinch of cayenne (optional)
- fresh cilantro or basil, for garnish
- FOR THE SALMON:
- Preheat oven to 315 degrees.
- Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper.
- Oil a shallow pan with olive oil and lay the fish in the pan.
- Sprinkle with lemon juice or wine.
- Cook 20-30 minutes, until the fish is cooked through (easily cut with a fork but still tender).
- FOR THE CORN RELISH:
- In a bowl, mix the red onion with the lime juice, vinegar and salt.
- Let sit 10 minutes.
- Add the corn, bell pepper, agave, pepper, mustard seed, celery seed and cayenne (if desired).
- Mix well.
- Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro or basil.