It’s been a while since I shared my culinary adventures experimenting with a range of fish (some both familiar and some altogether new) courtesy of weekly deliveries from the Mermaid Garden CSF. I’ve honestly felt a little overwhelmed continentally preparing fish that I’ve never had before and only heard of, but this weekend, I was able to get out of this rut by cooking with a fish I’m all too familiar with… wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon!
Everybody loves salmon… it’s a safe, delicious fish and we had a really great meal (but more on that in a few)….
Our salmon was brought to us by Emily and Christopher Nicolson of the Iliamna Fish Company, who have been fishing in Bristol Bay for over 50 years (through Bianca and Mark at the Mermaid Garden).
Here’s their story which Bianca and Mark shared with us that really intrigues me:
“In 1946, our grandparents, Jack Vantrease and his wife Lyn packed up everything they owned and moved to Alaska. With a canvas tent and a few hand tools, Jack and Lyn homesteaded on the pristine shores of Lake Iliamna, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. In the summer of 1948, bursting with enthusiasm at the prospect of commercial salmon fishing in Bristol Bay, Grandpa reckoned with his first season of commercial fishing in an old, double-ended wooden sailboat. So began a lifelong love affair with fish. 50 years later, the Bristol Bay sockeye salmon fishery is still the center of our family’s life and work. The past 10 years, however, have been increasingly hard times-the massive influx of foreign, farmed salmon has taken its toll on Alaskan salmon fishermen, and on our family business. Instead of being forced to give in to the market pressures of large-scale industrial fish farming, we, the grandchildren, re-organized the family fishing business into the Iliamna Fish Company.”
Fish are so weird looking.
I love salmon – it’s definitely the fish I’m most comfortable with and so I was psyched to find out we’d be getting salmon. I had a few preparations I wanted to try but I went with salmon en papillote.
According to the Food Lover’s Companion, en papillote refers to food baked inside a wrapping of greased parchment paper. As the food bakes and lets of steam, the parchment paper puffs up into a dome shape. At the table, the paper is slit and peeled back to reveal the food.
It’s a preparation I’ve tried before. It’s simple yet very elegant and also impressive!
Fun fact: In Italy, this preparation is called al cartoccio and upon a little Google research, spaghetti with a variety of shellfish can be cooked in this manner. Definitely need to add that to my list!
Salmon En Papillote with Asparagus and Lemon
Adapted from Real Simple
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp herbes de Provence
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 lemons, halved
Preheat oven to 400° F.
Lay out a sheet of parchment paper onto a sheet pan and place fillet on top. Season with salt, pepper and herbes de Provence. Top with asparagus and drizzle with olive oil. Squeeze half a lemon over the salmon and asparagus and add on top.
Pull the sides of the parchment paper over the fillet, folding to seal. Twist the ends and tie with butcher twine if so inclined.
Bake on lower rack of over for 20 to 25 minutes.
To serve, cut open the parchment paper and enjoy!
To go with my salmon, I decided to make garlic cream noodles with roasted cauliflower (a recipe I’ve been hanging on to for some time). This side dish was amazing on its own and I’m definitely adding it to my pasta repertoire (plus there’s cauliflower in it so that must negate the whole cream sauce thing right?)
The secret to this recipe is both nicely roasted cauliflower, but also roasted garlic (a technique that is ridiculously easy but I’ve actually never tried before). All you need is a head of garlic, sliced at the top and peeled until only a few layers remain.
Cover in foil and roast it in the oven for 45 minutes at 375 degrees F. Once cool, squeeze the roasted garlic out of it’s shell so to speak – mash into a paste and use on toasted bread or in this recipe!
Garlic Cream Noodles with Roasted Cauliflower
Adapted from How Sweet Eats.
¾ pound cappelini
1 head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
2 tbsp olive oil
½ teaspoon salt & pepper, each
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
½ cup half and half
1 bulb of roasted garlic
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
pinch of nutmeg
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Toss chopped cauliflower with salt, pepper and olive oil, then place on the baking sheet. Roast for 20-30 minutes, tossing 2-3 times during cooking, until charred and crispy.
In a large skillet, melt butter oven medium heat. Whisk in flour to create a roux and stir 1-2 minutes until golden. Add milk and half and half and whisk constantly until thickened, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat and stir in roasted garlic paste, nutmeg and cheese. Toss in roasted cauliflower and season with salt and pepper.
Toss pasta with cauliflower sauce!
Et voila, salmon with garlic cream noodles!
And while these noodles were a fantastic accompaniment, you could also go with a super simple salad or even roasted potatoes! I would definitely recommend both of these dishes though — together or individually, you will not be disappointed!