I'm a firm believer that no matter who you are, you need to have a go-to dinner recipe in your back pocket for when you have surprise dinner guests or just want something solid to make for your family or friends. Even if you don't like to cook all that much, or even if you cook all the time, having that one recipe that you have made so many times you barley have to think about putting it together is important and will also make you're life a little easier.
I have 2-3 go-to (easy) dinner dishes, and this salmon is one of them. This is typically what our early-in-the-week-dinner looks like, but I can fancy it up if I have a last minute dinner guest and I don't have time to menu plan. And by fancy it up, I mean make something like a really tasty slaw that I can impressively pile way high on top. Fish is my favorite dinner party food, because I have so many friends who are "gluten-free, vegetarian ..... with fish" which I guess would be called a pescatarian, but who like labels. Certainly not me.
When it comes to fish, it's important to be as picky and as savvy about the fish that you buy as you are about the rest of the food that you eat that. I'm sure that you already are, but I find the whole buying fish thing to be a little confusing. You have to look out for for more than one thing (and actually organic is one thing you don't want). When I buy fish, this my criteria: sustainable, NOT farmed, low in mercury, high in omegas, very fresh and tasty. You have to keep you eye out for tricks like calling a fish "organic" because there is no such certification for that.
Salmon is particularly tricky because there are so many types and names that it's easy to buy the wrong thing. For example, Atlantic salmon is pretty much always farmed. Scottish too. If you want true, wild salmon, it comes from the Pacific, often Alaska, and there is a season for it which is usually right around now until the end of the summer. A good way to tell if your salmon is wild is that it will look less "fatty" and more red vs. a farmed piece which will have more fat and a organ-y color. I pride myself on the fact that I can spot a farmed piece of salmon from a mile away, but if you're more of a newby to this ...... read labels, ask the person behind the counter where the fish comes from, and how fresh it is. Don't always trust what the sign says.
If you are not someone who eats salmon, or if you're feeding people who don't, this slaw over a cauliflower steak would be a delicious alternative. Or you can also eat this slaw for lunch, all on it's own, maybe even with a slice of avocado. It's super tasty and is my new go-to side dish.
black pepper + lime baked (wild) salmon with a snap pea slaw + crispy carrots
3-4 pieces of salmon, the slaw makes enough for 4 servings (or 2 very generous ones)
for the salmon:
3-4 / 7oz pieces of salmon (depending on how many people you are serving)
4 limes / half of the lime thinly sliced / the other half reserved for juice
lots of fresh cracked black pepper
for the slaw:
1 cup of purple cabbage / shredded (with a mandolin, preferably)
1 cup of white cabbage / shredded
1 cup of snap peas / sliced super thin on the bias
2 green onions / thinly sliced
6 basil leaves / finely chopped
for the slaw dressing:
1 large clove of garlic / minced
1 tablespoon of fresh ginger / minced
1 heaping tablespoon of almond butter
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
1 lime / juiced
1 tablespoon of honey
2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil
1/2 teaspoon of sriracha (optional)
1/2 cup of water
for the crispy carrots:
1 carrot / shredded
1 tablespoon of garbanzo bean flour (or whichever flour you like)
a couple tablespoons of grapeseed oil
Prepare the salmon parchment pouches + bake the salmon:
- Pre-heat the oven to 400º
- Take a piece of parchment and lay it on a flat surface. Place 3-4 lime slices (enough to cover the length of the salmon), onto of the parchment (lengthwise). Lay one piece of the salmon on top of the limes. Drizzle with some olive oil, season with salt, and very generously with the black pepper. Lay a couple more pieces of lime on top.
- Fold up the parchment into packets. Take the two long sides and bring them up to meet, then fold them in and roll them down a bit. Be sure to leave some room, but also make sure they are sealed. Twist both ends tightly. Place it onto a baking sheet, and continue until all of your pieces of salmon are in parchment.
- Bake the salmon for 15 minutes. Timing is everything with salmon. If you find your oven is warmer and cooks fast, then you might want to lower the time a minute or two, and check the salmon. Better to cook it less and check it than to overcook. I find that in my oven 15 minutes gets me a medium rare piece of salmon (which I prefer). Salmon does not need to be well-done, unless that is how you prefer to eat it. Just be aware that the more cooked your salmon it, the more salmon-y it is going to taste. Some people like that, some people don't.
While the salmon is baking, make the slaw and crispy carrots:
- Place all of the ingredients for the slaw dressing into a food processor. Blend until smooth. Taste, and adjust any seasoning necessary.
- Place all of the prepped slaw veggies into a large bowl, and then pour the dressing over and toss to combine.
- To make the crispy carrots, toss the carrots with the flour, then heat the oil over medium-high heat in a small cast iron. Cook the carrots, undisturbed, for a couple of minutes to get them nice and crispy. Then stir them around until they start to brown. Remove and place onto a paper towel to drain the oil.
Assemble + serve:
- When the salmon is done to your liking, remove them from the packets and place them onto individual plate. You can also remove the skin at this point (before you plate), but I usually leave it on. I don't eat it, but it's very easy to eat around.
- Place a large handful of the slaw on top of the salmon and finish with a pinch of the crispy carrots, and serve immediately.