Many meals are forgettable moments that run on automatic through the days. Others stand out. I’d been hankering to make a recipe using fresh fish of some sort and had thought I was going to have to settle for frozen when we lucked into a huge slab of wild caught salmon that looked fabulous. And this is how I came to create a memorable meal—Maple Salmon—baked en papillote and flanked by roasted asparagus. Soooo delicious!Jump to Recipe
A Poetic Experience
Those of you who follow my blog may recall that I am a poet. Food and cooking occasionally appear in my poems (like Breaking Bread). Just as months of isolation inspired an almost daily bread meditation, this meal ended up inspiring poetry. Sometimes you know where a poem is going; other times, you don’t—and this one, now in the editing process, has become an interesting exploration of respiration, life, death, and the great beyond.
About Maple Salmon
The keyword for this recipe is fresh. If you can snatch up a fresh salmon steak, that will work best. But you can always use individual filet cuts, even if they have been frozen. I imagine the next time I try this recipe, it will be made with frozen fillets. Be sure to use real maple syrup, none of that fake stuff for this recipe. Fresh lemon, ginger, garlic, and some parsley sprigs round out the flavor additions. If you absolutely must, use dried versions, but fresh is best.
A food safety note: food safety recommendations are that salmon reach 145 degrees F. All of my research indicated that pulling your salmon out at somewhere between 130 and 140 degrees ensures you do not overcook the salmon. It continues to cook some during the brief rest period. (I took mine out at 140 degrees.) The fish should be solid pink and easily flake off away from the fillet. The thicker the fish, the longer it will take to cook through.
A Great Sidekick
I recommend roasted asparagus as a side with Maple Salmon. Load it up with butter or drizzle it with oil, sprinkle on salt, and toss some lemon slices and parsley and roast at 425 degrees F for about 15 minutes or so, until the asparagus is cooked through but before it gets over-browned. Delicious!
“I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street”W.H. Auden
- 3 lb salmon steak
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp fresh ginger shredded
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 TBSP maple syrup
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 lemon sliced thinly
- 5 parsley sprigs
- Zest lemon.
- Slice one lemon into thin slices and deseed.
- Shred ginger.
- Break parsley into small sprigs.
- Peel and thinly slice garlic.
- Mix together all ingredients except salmon, lemon slices and parsley.
- Preheat oven to 375° F.
- Cut parchment paper large enough for salmon steak. The paper should be able to wrap around the steak completely.
- Place parchment paper on large baking sheet, then place salmon on parchment paper.
- Pour mixture out and brush onto salmon.
- Lay lemon slices and parsley on salmon.
- Close paper up at top, with a double fold.
- Place in oven and bake until inner temperature reaches 130 to 140° F. Watch carefully to avoid overcooking. Cook time will be dependent upon thickness of the fish. The meat should flake away. If it is translucent, it is not cooked enough.
- Remove salmon from oven and rest for 5 minutes. The salmon will continue cooking during the rest period.
- While still in parchment paper, transfer to serving dish. Carefully remove paper.