When we were in Alaska, we learned that they have 5 different species of salmon that hang out in their waters. It makes zero difference to me – all of them are delicious.
I decided to make some salmon tonight when Sam told me he wanted fish for dinner. Actually I had already been thinking of baking some, but I somehow thought he didn’t like salmon so I ignored the fish aisle until I received his text. Later I found out that salmon is his favorite fish. Oops.
When I was little, my grandma would often overcook non-Chinese dishes such as pork chops or salmon (thankfully her Chinese dishes were superb), and I’m pretty sure that’s why I like sashimi and steak tartare as an adult. So whenever I cook meat, I make sure it’s super tender, flavorful and juicy, which usually involves some sort of marinade.
Fish is one of those things that was really intimidating for me to make at first. It seems really delicate, and it’s not really something you can just chop up and fry. But it’s actually super easy, and if you enlist the help of your oven, it practically does all the work for you. So here’s my super simple salmon (hah!) recipe which, really, if I can make it, anyone can.
Ingredients you’ll need:
Salt + pepper
Two boneless salmon filets (or any kind of fish that will hold up for baking – I also like black cod)
2-4 cloves of garlic
Any kind of mustard (I prefer Dijon or garlic)
To make the marinade, start by mincing and dicing the garlic and shallot. If you like garlic (like Sam and me), use 3 or 4 cloves. If you don’t, you are more than welcome to just use one, or completely omit. Combine these in a bowl with the juice of one lemon (don’t worry if you get the seeds in there), a pinch of salt and pepper, two teaspoons of mustard, and about half a cup of olive oil (more if you are making more than 2 servings, or if your filets are extra huge).
Put the salmon filets in either a baking dish or gallon-sized Ziploc bag, and pour the marinade over the fish. Don’t worry if it doesn’t completely cover the fish; you can flip the fish halfway through. Marinate for about 10 minutes.
Once it’s done marinating, preheat your oven to 450 degrees and line a baking dish with parchment paper. This step is completely optional, but it will basically save your life when it comes to cleanup. Make sure you have enough paper to loosely wrap up the salmon like a package. Slice up the other two lemons, about 1/4″ thick, and place on the bottom of the dish.
Place the marinated salmon on the slices of lemon, and if desired, pour the marinade directly on top.
Wrap up the ends of the parchment paper loosely so it can trap most of the steam inside. It should look like a magical Christmas package, except more delicious. Bake for about 17 minutes; if your salmon is more than 1″ thick, add on two extra minutes.
Eat. (Sorry for the lack of a complete photo – this was too delicious to resist, plus I had to sample my cooking to make sure it tasted okay..)
A few things to note:
- This recipe will make your salmon medium rare to medium, which results in the best, juiciest, most tender middle with a moist and flaky outside. Mine practically looked like sashimi in the middle, and I’m still alive today, so it’s fine to eat your salmon medium rare. But if you like your salmon really well-done, just cook it to your liking.
- You can also substitute half a small onion for the shallot, but I think I’ve mentioned before in another post that I prefer the more mild taste of shallots, plus they’re the perfect size.
- If you like fancy mustard, by all means, use it! I had this wonderful garlic mustard that I found at a winery, and hello, garlic, I love you.