As a child, growing up in a land-locked state with little opportunity for fresh-caught fish, I highly anticipated the arrival of one of my dad's good friend's, "Jerry The Fisherman." Jerry would arrive straight off a flight from Alaska, bearing fresh-caught filets of the highest quality Wild Alaskan Salmon. My father would immediately fire up the smoker and together Jerry and my dad would serve us all up a feast of brown sugar bbq'd goodness- the perfect combination of tangy and sweet. In my awkward anti-fish days this was the only seafood I felt fit to indulge in; thank goodness my taste buds have since matured to include all facets of the underwater world, but the memory of these meals has inspired my cooking of salmon ever since.
This meal is a great addition to any home-cook's arsenal, as the flavors are rich enough to compliment both fresh or frozen fish. If you can't get fresh fish, the flash-frozen filets from Trader Joe's store nicely and can be quickly defrosted and effortlessly prepped for a gourmet-feel that will impress any dinner audience. You can easily adjust the quantities to incorporate an intimate dinner for two or up the ounces on the filets and have an entire family feast.
Brown Sugar Baked Salmon
- 2, Wild Alaskan Salmon Filets, fresh or defrosted, any size, deboned with skin on bottom
- 2 tsp Herbes de Provence, divided
- 6 cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup Brown Sugar, divided
- 2 Tbsp Honey, divided
- 1 tsp Cayenne, divided
- 2 Tbsp Low-Sodium Soy Sauce, divided
- 1/2 Lemon, thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp Butter, sliced and quartered into 4 small pats
- Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
- Himalayan Pink Crystal Salt (Check out the health benefits vs. regular salt!)
*Next, pour 1 Tbsp of Soy Sauce over each piece, and then rub the salmon with the Herbes de Provence, and approximately 1/2 tsp of cayenne, per filet. Next, coat each piece with a generous amount of brown sugar, patting it into the salmon. Drizzle with honey. For optimal flavor allow the fish to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. If you don't have the time, don't worry, the fish will still be extremely flavorful.
*Top each Salmon filet with the pats of butter and 2 lemon slices. Finish with fresh cracked black pepper and a sprinkle of salt. Bake 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes (depending on size, if thick cook longer!), then turn the temperature to 275 degrees and bake an additional 8-12 minutes. Check the center of the fish with a knife, when the meat of the fish is a medium shade of pink (no longer red, but not dry or whitish-pink) and slightly flaky, it is done.
To Serve: Serve immediately, hot and sizzling out of the oven over rice, aside a fresh Feta & Cranberry Salad.
Feta & Cranberry Salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 2 cups Arugula Leaves
- 1/2 cup Grape Tomatoes, sliced
- 1/2 Cucumber, diced
- 1 Avocado, peeled, pitted, sliced
- 1/3 cup Vidallia Onion, diced
- 1/4 cup toasted Almond Slices
- 1/4 cup dried Cranberries, or Craisins
- 1/4 cup Feta, crumbled
- 1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar
- 1/4 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Tbsp Cane Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Whole-Grain Dijon Mustard
- 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning
- 1/4 tsp Cayenne
- 2 cloves Garlic, pressed
- 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
- 1 tsp Cracked Black Pepper
This is my go-to salad and pairs well with most anything. I'll switch it up for different dishes with candied walnuts or trade the feta for goat cheese and add a lemon vinaigrette for a nice twist.
This salmon dish pairs well with a light wine such as an Argentinean Pinot Noir or a Beaujolais. Try a 2007 Saurus Pinot Noir from Patagonia Argentina or for a less pricey option pick a 2008 Valle Perdido Pinot Noir, for only $11.99. While most believe Chardonnay is the typical pick for fish, I find the flavors baked in this salmon tend to be too strong for most whites; so stick with a light red or deep pink, and if you must go white try a Sauvignon Blanc or a Riesling. The 2004 Felton Road Riesling from Germany is only $10 and has a nice finish with flavors of mandarin and lemon.