Oh thank you, sweet Mother Nature, Summer has finally arrived up in here! If you haven’t had the joy of experiencing a British Columbia coastal summer, then let me paint you a pic: Balmy breezes carrying whiffs of sea air, patios packed with revellers smashing rose and blowing off work for the afternoon, long and languid nights with luscious 10pm sunsets… It makes us Vancouver people have rain amnesia from the deluge that is November-March, and also explains why we all continue to live in this overpriced hipster rainforest. Summers in these parts are just the ta-tas.
What we like to do once the weather gets gorgeous is head over to the Gulf Islands and unplug. The kid gets as dirty as he wants, I run around in hippie caftans and contemplate reading an actual book, our dog turns feral… and Charlie gets in the boat to start fishing and basically never stops. He’s so obsessed with fishing, sometimes I wonder when he gets that glazed look in his eye if he’s fantasizing about salmon and not me. His love affair with it runs deep, his perpetual sea sickness and penchant for sunburns be damned. Case in point: I watch makeup tutorials on Instagram to unwind, he looks at pictures of fishing boats. Opposites attract!
Suffice it to say, he’s really good at fishing, which means we’ve been eating a lot of Chinook (spring) salmon lately. Luckily I love salmon. If you don’t like it, I don’t know who hurt you, but I like to think of it as the real chicken of the sea. It’s so versatile, you can make it 1,000 different ways and never be bored of it. So I want to share a few of my favourite methods of cooking it, since that’s what I’ve been doing lately: cooking. effing. salmon. In caftans.
Worth mentioning: in my opinion, the skin of the salmon is the best part, cooked to a crisp and caramelized to deliciousness. Plus, I hear it’s good for you and your hair and nails, so beauty bonus? My favourite way of crisping skin is with my nifty little brûlée torch, a present from Charlie, which is a great way of crisping something up in a real hurry, and equates to perfect skin, every time. It’s meant for creme brûlée but honestly, crispy skin is my creme brûlée, so… Get yours here:
Here’s what I’ve been cooking lately.
Sweet Chili Glazed Salmon
2 salmon fillets
1/4 cup sweet Thai chili sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 inch pieced of ginger, peeled and minced or grated
1 garlic clove, minced or grated
The juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
Mix together the sweet Thai chili sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, hoisin sauce, ginger, garlic, and lemon juice. Let it come to a simmer in a pot over medium heat and thicken for a few minutes. Set aside.
Spray a baking sheet well with nonstick spray (my favourite is coconut oil spray) or a drizzle of olive oil. Coat the fish in the glaze, sprinkle with salt and pepper and lay it flesh side down, skin up. Bake in the oven at 400F for about 15 minutes, depending on the thickness. If you’ve got that blow torch handy, crisp up the skin for a few seconds before serving it over rice. OR just set it under a hot broiler for 1 minute.
Rice tip: drizzle some sesame oil over the rice before cooking to give it some flavour, always season it with salt and pepper, and at the end, stir in some fresh chopped scallions to liven things up. So easy, it’s embarrassing.
Miso Glazed Salmon
2 salmon fillets
2 tbsp white or yellow miso paste
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced or grated
The juice of one lime
Mix the miso paste, honey, mirin, soy sauce, ginger, and lime juice together. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Coat the salmon in the sauce, sprinkle with just a touch of salt and some black pepper. Set it flesh down, skin side up, and bake at 400F for about 15 minutes. Broil that skin under a broiler for a minute or torch it with your nifty brûlée torch.
(yes I’ve told you about this one before. It’s worth mentioning again because I am OBSESSED)
4 salmon fillets, or one side of a whole salmon
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp curry powder
Salt and pepper
Heat a pot over medium heat with the olive oil. Sautee the onion for about five minutes until soft and translucent. Sprinkle with the curry powder, salt and pepper, then add the tomato paste. Cook for 1 minute, then add the red wine vinegar, the Worcestershire, and maple syrup. Bring to a boil and then simmer for a few minutes to thicken. If it gets too thick, just add a splash of water to thin it out.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Coat the salmon in the “BBQ” sauce, then lay flesh down, skin side up. Sprinkle the skin with a little extra salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes for fillets, depending on thickness, or 20 minutes for a whole side of salmon, and (that’s right) crisp up the skin with a brulee torch if you’ve got one. This salmon is delish over mashed Yukon gold or sweet potatoes.
4 salmon fillets or one side of a whole salmon
1/3 cup of pesto (we like basil pesto, but use your favourite. To make your own, blend two cups of basil leaves with 3 garlic cloves, 3 tbsp pine nuts, 3 tbsp parmesan cheese, and 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Or just go to the store and buy some gang)
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely minced
Preheat the oven to 400F. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Place the salmon skin side down on the baking sheet. Mix the pesto with the jalapeño, then coat the salmon with the pesto mixture. Bake for 15 minutes if using individual fillets, or 20 minutes for a whole side of salmon. Could that get any easier? The answer is no.
If I have made a salmon lover out of you, please let me know so I can pat myself on the back, it’s been a whole five minutes since I’ve done that.