Baked Salmon, Or At Least I Think So

whole foods baked salmon

Simple Baked Salmon

This week there have been reports that a good percentage – or bad depending upon how you think of it – of the fish we eat, isn’t what we think it is. In NYC up to 39% of the fish tested was fraudulently labeled. Sometimes the labeling was as quasi-harmless as ‘Wild Salmon’ vs the truth that it was actually farmed.

Other mislabeling, however, wasn’t so innocent. In certain cases, tilapia was sold as red snapper. And, in the worst or most dangerous of cases, fish labeled as ‘white tuna’ was actually escolar (what is escolar???) which can cause acute gastrointestinal problems (according to Oceana officials – I’m just guessing that this Oceana is not the same Oceana Airlines from LOST).

We, as New Yorkers, should consider ourselves lucky. In Los Angeles and Boston the percentages of mislabeled fish were much greater. Boston surprised me at 48%…I mean don’t they pride themselves on their seafood? And LA was well worse at 55% – but, really, should we be surprised?…I mean, I love LA and…there’s a ton of fake stuff in LA – ’nuff said.

And, enough about that. As far as I know, I made an easy baked salmon Sunday night for my pescatarian friends.

In an apartment kitchen, baking the salmon is a good idea for so many reasons:

  • Salmon is a fishy smelling fish.
  • If you pan sear it in your tiny NYC apartment kitchen, the smell can linger for days
  • You don’t want to be ‘that fishy smelling neighbor’

So, simply baking it, is probably your best bet.

Here’s how:

Simply Baked Salmon (serves 4)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees

1. Buy what you think is salmon…About a 1 1/2 lb fillet for four people. Ask the ‘fish monger’ – or guy behind the counter at Whole Foods – to cut it into 4 equal pieces and to deskin it. This is called ‘deskinification’ – far as you know.

Actually, the NYC Whole Foods generally has pre-cut individual salmon fillets for $5.95 each.

2. Place the fillets in a pan and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil

salmon filets whole foods

Lined Up and Ready

3. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper

4. Bake in the oven for :15 minutes – or until you achieve the desired doneness. I’m not a big fan of rare salmon…and I generally err toward medium doneness

whole foods salmon fillets

Look! It’s a Seafood Themed Platter

5. Remove from oven…Garnish with some lemon wedges and serve – maybe with peas and the vegetarian pie from yesterday’s post…

peas defrosting

Peas – I always have frozen peas

I’m pretty sure what we ate was salmon…either way, it was simple and delicious and didn’t leave me with a fishy smelling apartment.

Plus, after a full day of Christmas Cookie baking (see tomorrow’s post) – and with the vegetarians coming over – simple was definitely the way to go.

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The Great Reveal: Salmon Wellington

At the gym today I might have stumbled upon the Maury Show. Riveting television. Seems Maury has changed the formula for these types of programs and is now the great rapid revealer of all truths. Today’s program was filled with cheating husbands, lying wives and  paternity mysteries. Previously, these types of programs would make you wait :56 minutes before finding out the results of the DNA or lie detector tests. Not anymore. The new formula: Maury revealed results in six different cases in rapid fire succession. 4 men were forced to accept children as theirs, a wife had to forgive her spouse who turned out to be faithful and a woman met her grandson for the first time. I had chills.

Before each commercial break Maury solicits people for upcoming programs. Today, this message flashed across the screen:

“Are you engaged to your online lover but have never met? If so, contact the Maury Show at 1-888…..”

Seriously? I laughed out loud and caught the attention of the treadmillers around me.

But, then I remembered a friend who once told me that Beef Wellington was his favorite food. As a lover and annual recreator of Paula Deen’s Individual Beef Wellington’s in a Sherry Cream Sauce (recipe tips to come at Christmas time) I asked him where he had experienced his favorite food. Turns out, just like the online lovers who have never met..Beef Wellington was my friend’s favorite food that he had never had.

One of the best parts of the beef wellington is the puff pastry. You wrap up an amazing piece of beef in a pretty package – like keeping a wonderful secret. I’ve made it a dozen times, but the anxious anticipation is still there when I go to cut it open. So why not infuse more drama into your dinners and wrap other things in puff pastry throughout the year.

One of my favorite things to wrap in puff pastry is Salmon.

Salmon Wellington (serves 4)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees

2. In a medium skillet heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.

3. Stir in 1 clove peeled, minced garlic. You can add more – but garlic isn’t my thing…and you don’t want to over power the taste of the fish.

Wilting Spinach with Garlic and Olive Oil

Wilting the Spinach

4. When the garlic becomes fragrant (about 2 mins) add a 5oz package of washed, fresh spinach leaves and wilt over medium heat. This only takes a couple of minutes as well. Once wilted, set aside.

Dufour Puff Pastry from Whole Foods…The Best!

5. Unwrap 2 sheets of Dufours Puff Pastry. It’s the best – and it costs like a million dollars…but, it’s so much better than the others…So splurge here. I get mine at Whole Foods.

Cut each sheet in half

On a floured surface, roll out a half sheet just a little – you don’t want to lose all of the thickness.

6. Remove the skin and season 4 5oz salmon fillets on both sides with Salt and Pepper.

Skinned Salmon Fillets ready for wrapping

7. Place one Salmon fillet in the center of the sheet and top it with the wilted spinach. Using an eggwash (just beat an egg with a little bit of water) paint the outer border of the pastry.

Salmon Fillet In Center of Puff Pastry topped with Spinach

8. Fold the bottom corner of the pastry over the salmon lengthwise.  Then fold the right and left corners creating an ‘envelope’. Finally fold the top corner over and pinch closed with your fingers.

Repeat with remaining 3 fillets and spinach.

9. You can decorate the tops of each fillet using more puff pastry dough and cookie cutters…Or, if you’re all creative and such, go free-hand.

Place each fillet on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush with egg wash.

Salmon Wellington Ready for the Oven

Salmon Wellington Ready for the Oven

10. Into the oven for :25 mins and you’ll have a beautiful, wrapped mystery meal to reveal! Inside the salmon is moist and tender, perfectly cooked. Outside, the pastry is warm and flaky.

Cutting into puff pastry and finding salmon and spinach instead of beef and mushroomy goodness may not be as dramatic as finding out who your baby daddy is or meeting your online fiance for the first time… But, it’s just as suspenseful and twice as delicious!

Maury isn’t the only one with secrets to reveal.