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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In It to Win(e) It: Post-PowerBall Packets of Fish

Lo-Cal Dinner

For those who are wondering…I didn’t win the half a billion dollar PowerBall lottery last night. This really blows my retirement plan and is sort of ruining my Thursday morning. I think in order to win, you have to live in a place like Missouri or, even, apparently, Arizona. And, no, I’m not even one of the two $1million winners in New York State. Very disappointing.

Sad Losing Ticket – with two worthless matching numbers

So, I’m still – like so many – watching my pennies. Trying to use every ounce of everything in the kitchen…Staying on top of expiration dates in the cupboard and fridge…

When people come for dinner or drinks  at my apartment they are charged with bringing white wine. I don’t drink white wine. Ever. Like as TSwift might say: never ever ever. Even in the summer. Even at a ladies luncheon. OK, once I drank white when I was at a holiday party at the apartment of a friend who – due to her entirely white interior decorating scheme – served only white wine. But, I didn’t enjoy it.

People Just leave Wine!

So, in the rare instance that there is left over white wine in my apartment, I try to cook with it. Left over wine is an unusual occasion – you should meet my friends.

This morning I found a half drunk bottle of Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc in the fridge. I thought about drinking away my sorrows from the PowerBall loss…but, let’s face it…It wasn’t even noon and that would just be too sad.

I also found some capers and lemons in the fridge…thyme in the freezer and, of course, frozen Whole Foods Tilapia. I’m a little obsessed with always having it on hand.

And, I’m still on my quest to lose the Sandy 15lbs.

So I made:

Tilapia En Papillote (serves 2)

OK…first and foremost, if you are using frozen fish, take it out of the freezer, remove it from the packaging, place in a baking dish, cover with Saran Wrap and store in the fridge at least 7 hours before you want to cook it.

Ill-Advised Defrosting

Now – honestly, I’ve forgotten to do this and you can just leave the frozen fish in a covered baking dish on the kitchen counter…but, for whatever reason, you’re not supposed to do it that way. Whatevs, I lived.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1. Place one Tilapia Filet in the center of a 10ish inch x 10ish inch piece of either heavy duty tin foil, or as I did on that fancy Reynold’s Wrap Pan Lining Paper: Parchment on one side, tin foil on the other. It’s like the mullet of cooking papers (business in the front, party in the back)

Fancy!

2. Sprinkle the filet with Thyme or Lemon Thyme

Thyme Sprinkles on the fish on the Parchment side of the pan lining paper

3. Layer on some capers – I love capers, they’re like salty goodness – just thought you should know

Capers On…Lemons Staged

4. Sprinkle with salt – and pepper, if you want

5. Cover the filet with lemon slices

6. Place one pat of butter on top of the lemon slices

Give ’em all a little pat of butter

7. Spoon about a TBSP of white wine over the fish – be careful, you don’t want the wine to (eeks!) spill outside of the parchment paper and be wasted!

8. Fold up the sides of the fancy Reynold’s Parchment/Tin Foil (mullet) wrap around the fish. Make sure there is space between the fish and the wrapping as you want the fish to have room to steam. And, be sure that the packet is completely sealed.

NOTE: if you see the pros do this – they create a perfect half moon shaped packet… I’m just not that artistically skilled or creative. And, you can get the same effect with any shaped packet.

No Points for Style

9. Repeat with three other filets

10. Put the pretty (or not so pretty) packets on a rimmed baking tray into the oven and bake for :12-:14 minutes depending upon thickness of fish

11. Carefully remove the fish from the packets, plate and serve

Pretty Pescatarian Plate

So, with my losing PowerBall ticket I won’t be dining at Perse or jetting off in my private plane to St. Bart’s. Nope. I’ll be hoping that I can continue to count on my white wino friends to leave just a few tablespoons of wine in my fridge to dress up a meal…or two. And, I’ll continue to buy PowerBall and MegaMillions tickets…Cuz, you gotta be in it to win it!

We Embrace Change and Coconut Curry Shrimp

shrimp dinner

Embracing Change: Coconut Curry Shrimp

More than 2 years have passed since lovely Sarah Palin asked ‘How’s that hopey, changey stuff working out?’ Don’t worry, we’re not going to talk politics here. But we are going to talk change.

Sarah Palin Asks the Question

Very early in my career during a round of pretty significant layoffs through which I survived, I learned that: ‘Change is good. We embrace change.’ That’s what one of the higher-ups told us, the lil’ people, at the time. And, I repeated it a lot in my head – like orphans who learn to soothe themselves by rocking in their cribs – I managed the shock of watching 30% of the company being marched out the door and soothed myself by repeating ‘Change is good. We embrace change’ over and over and over again. I repeated it until I actually believed it. And it’s been a mantra ever since.

Now, I do admit that not all change is easy to swallow. The mass firing wasn’t fun for anyone, but it was good in the long run for the company – and, a great learning experience for my younger self.

Personal change (as opposed to personnel change) can be tough to handle as well. Last night, for example, my 70-something-year-old father asked to borrow my readers because he forgot his.

That’s right. I now have readers. Still sort of hyperventilating from that one. I do feel the need to announce here that my ‘readers’ are only 1X AND as per my eye guy, I have better than 20/20 vision – it’s just that my eyes have changed and I can’t see menus, in small print, in dark restaurants, whatever. Let’s not discuss this again.

But, most change, is really good. As a food person, in order to keep it interesting and have content on a very regular basis, I’ve had to embrace new foods and cook things that I would have never made before. I’ve had to change the way I think about a lot of things.

Two truths I used to hold:

1. Shrimp is not a meal

2. I hate coconut

But, change is good. And recently I made:

Coconut Curry Shrimp (serves 4)

1. In a large pot on the stove top, whisk together:

  • Coconut Milk Whole Foods

    13.5 oz NOT 14oz

    1 14 oz can of Coconut Milk – unsweetened. For whatever reason, Whole Foods sells its 365 brand of Coconut milk in 13.5oz cans. Could be a marketing ploy and I fell for it and bought 2 – which was OK because I also made coconut rice…and, the 365 brand is very well priced.

    The recipe I tweaked also called for fresh coconut…but I draw the line there as I can’t stand crunching down on flakes of real coconut. So I left it out.

  • The juice from one lime
  • 1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp of minced ginger – note, you can store ginger in your freezer for about one eon if you peel it first (use a spoon), wrap it in Saran and then put it in a ZipLoc freezer bag…frozen ginger is easier to grate as well – I used my Microplane grater
Ginger Root

Fresh Ginger Peeling Process

2. Slowly bring the mixture to a boil over low heat

Curry into the Coconut Milk mixture

3. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 7 – 10 minutes. The mixture will thicken and reduce a bit.

4. Add salt and pepper to taste – just a pinch of each will probably do ya

5. Add in 1lb of large, peeled and deveined shrimp. I know… I normally use frozen, but thought ‘Embrace Change!’ and bought a beautiful looking pound of fresh shrimp at Citarella.

coconut curry shrimp

Citarella Shrimp into the Curry!

6. Return to a simmer, then cover and cook for 12 – 15 minutes until the shrimps are fully cooked

Oh, they’re cooked now!

7. Toss in about 1/4 cup combo of freshly chopped parsley and freshly chopped basil

8. Serve over rice…I made coconut rice with orange peppers and peas – it was very pretty – much prettier than the picture above…Again, I left the flakes of fresh coconut out.

Like it? They LOVE it!

The coconut curry shrimp was really good. I liked it…A lot. And, so did these people.

Up is down. Black is white. Day is night. I eat coconut. Shrimp is a meal.

You know what, in my kitchen at least, there is hopey changey stuff that’s working just fine.

Change is good. We embrace change.