And just like that, I’m back on my own two feet. HALLELUJAH! What a difference just two short weeks can make.
The pain in my sacroiliac joint has nearly completely resolved itself; I’ve banished the crutches to the darkest most spidery corner of our garage and I’m finally able to lace up my sneaks and take a decent stroll with the dogs. Don’t get me wrong – at 9 months pregnant, I’m not breaking out the pogo stick or trying to set a new PR in the 100 meter dash, but can I just tell you how nice it is to be able to go to the grocery store and actually WALK up and down the aisles without attempting to juggle two silver walking apparatuses and a protruding belly that has a proclivity for swiping errant cereal boxes off of the shelves? There are some serious pregnant-lady happy dances occurring over here on the reg, folks.
Now that I’m mobile again I’m picking up where I left off and attempting to tick off all of those last minute prep items I’ve had on my gargantuan list of Things I Absolutely Must Do before the baby arrives. The nesting instinct is a serious thing, and I’ve been decluttering, purging, organizing and re-organizing almost everything under our roof. The label maker has been getting a workout (I have a problem), and no surface shall go unscrubbed – including poor Toast the gray kitten, who was subjected to his first bath (I’ll let you guess how well that went over).
Despite being back up on my feet, we’ve been staying pretty close to home these days; as it turns out, even if you’re not lucky enough to experience a bout of debilitating SI joint disfunction, being Really Freaking Pregnant comes with it’s own litany of oh-so-pleasant ‘ailments’ at this juncture. Swollen hands and feet, killer back pain, sleepless nights with dead-tired days, and the dreaded pregnant-lady-waddle have all become part of my daily vernacular, and even though I definitely feel like I have surrendered by body to a tiny little alien, the heart-swelling moments when I can feel her hiccup or roll a tiny foot out and against my drum-tight belly make it all worth it — 10,000 times over.
We’ve been eating at home a lot; besides my appetite being a bit wonky, I’m also into eating super early these days and taking the evening hours to put my feet up, watch a whole lot of Netflix, and cuddle with our fur babes. I’ve had my eye on this slow roasted salmon dish for some time, and given the lackadaisical method and near lack of effort needed, it seemed like the perfect healthy thing to throw together on a rainy weeknight when a spot of brightness was desperately needed.
I’m a fan of slow roasting anything, and though typically the ‘low and slow’ method is used most frequently with tough cuts of meat, I was intrigued by applying the principal to fish. Plus, who am I to argue with the Queen of California Cuisine herself, Alice Waters? This method came from the Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook that I found by way of an old (circa 2003) Washington Post article, and like most other recipes of hers, the fantastic end result totally and completely belies the simple technique.
I used wild and sustainably caught coho salmon, as I far prefer the more robust flavor, color, and texture to the blander farmed stuff (plus I’m very careful about buying and eating farmed salmon, but that’s another story for another day), and deviated just a smidge from Alice’s instruction by making a fresh orange-soy glaze that thickened up and lacquered the meat, imparting it with a delicious savory-sweet flavor. After just about an hour in a 200 degree oven I had the most perfectly done piece of salmon that was almost ‘oven-cured’ rather than cooked; the outer part was shiny and just barely opaque, and the fish flaked apart easily when pressed with a fork, revealing an interior that was super juicy, tender, and succulent.
A bright meyer lemon relish spiked with fresh herbs and garlic was absolutely divine when dolloped over the broken-up filet, and the smell of the garlic shimmying down into all of the nooks and crannies of the warm salmon drove inquiring noses directly over to the countertop for a sampling straight off of the serving plate.
This was honestly one of the easiest ways I have ever prepared salmon, and I can imagine it being perfect for a dinner party or large group, as it is equally easy to prepare a scant pound of this as it is to do an entire side of salmon at once. Plus, on top of it being fantastic still hot, the leftovers are killer when served at room temperature, and we also enjoyed the last bits of this flaked and stirred into soft scrambled eggs spiked with a spoonful of cream cheese and some chopped chives the following morning, which in and of itself was a meal worth writing home about.
- 1 - 1⅓lb piece of wild salmon, pin bones removed
- ½ cup fresh orange juice (or the juice squeezed from approx 2 medium sized oranges)
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp honey
- olive oil
- kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
- 1 meyer lemon, cut into 8 wedges & seeds removed
- a handful fresh parsley leaves & stems (about 1 lightly packed cup), chopped
- a handful fresh cilantro leaves & stems (about 1 lightly packed cup), chopped
- 10-15 fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 1 clove fresh garlic, grated or minced
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- kosher salt
- fresh cracked pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees, and place a small pan of warm water on the lowest rack in the oven (this will help to create a humid environment in the oven and goes towards keeping the salmon very moist).
- In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the fresh orange juice and soy sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat a touch, and simmer until the mixture has reduced by ⅔ and has thickened up (it should coat the back of a spoon).
- Lightly brush a baking dish with the oil. Place the salmon into the oiled dish, and brush it with the soy and orange mixture. Season the filet generously with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, and place the dish in the oven. Allow at least an hour and up to 1½ hours or the salmon to cook through, depending on the thickness; if you are using wild salmon, as I did here, the filet will generally be a bit thinner and take closer to the 1 hour mark. Check the salmon at just past a half hour and baste it with any of the orange soy mixture that has collected on the bottom of the pan. It should still look very undercooked at this point; f it seems to be cooking too fast, reduce the heat a bit.
- While the salmon roasts, make the relish. Slice the lemon wedges crosswise into very thin slivers; this is key, as you will be eating the skin and pith, and very thin slivers will keep the relish from being bitter or with large cumbersome bits of lemon to chew. Combine the slivered lemon in the bowl of a mortar and pestle (or food processor) with the fresh garlic, chopped herbs, and a good pinch of kosher salt. Mash (if using a mortar and pestle) or pulse to combine, and then add the olive oil in a steady stream, mashing and mixing (or pulsing) as you go until you have a lovely and bright relish with a nice rustic consistency. Taste and adjust salt levels as needed. Set aside until you are ready to serve the salmon (the relish will seize up in the fridge because of the oil, so I leave this at room temperature till I need it).
- The salmon is cooked when it is just barely firm to the touch and juices are beginning to collect on top of the fillet; it will still look slightly underdone, but should also flake relatively easily when pressed or pried with a fork. Let it rest for at least 10 minutes.
- To serve, break the salmon into rough pieces and serve with the relish dolloped atop. The salmon is absolutely divine served straight away and still warm from the oven, and is also lovely chilled or at room temperature.