Sunday, September 16

Fatty fish

Since we're protesting against cable television (read: too cheap to pay for cable), we rely on podcasts, youtube, the library, and 'other' sources for our mindless entertainment. Recently, we found episodes of "Hell's Kitchen" on youtube, and we've been catching up on all three seasons. Each season begins with Gordon Ramsey ordering the contestants to make their signature dish. Of course, after tasting each dish, Ramsey proceeds to spit it out, swear profusely and call the contestant very rude names.

This got me thinking (not the spitting and swearing - the signature dish!). If I had to pick one dish that I might label as my signature dish, what would it be? Hmm...

There are dishes that I always seem to bring to potlucks - ribs, grain salads, pork tenderloins, strawberry-white-chocolate mouse cake - but those are just crowd-pleasers. I wouldn't exactly call them my signature dish.

Then it dawned on me. I make a pretty awesome fatty fish (except when doing a zillion things at once and not paying attention it becomes less than awesome). But for now, I'm going to call this my signature dish - I love it's simplicity and clean flavours. Besides it can be made in less than 30 minutes.

Please don't use frozen (or frozen and thawed) fish for this. Buy good quality salmon from a fish monger or farmer's market. If you have access to it, try to find wild-caught Alaskan salmon. For other fish choices, check out Seafood Watch to learn about which varieties of fish won't kill our oceans. Note that if you do decide to buy responsibly, you're going to have to shell out $28/lb or so. Just buy smaller portions and eat less meat the rest of the week to make up the cost :)

Asian-inspired Salmon (or trout or tuna or other fatty fish)
  • boneless fillets of fatty fish
  • soy sauce
  • maple syrup
  • grated fresh ginger
  • lots of fresh ground pepper, coarsely ground
  • a little salt
1. Find a shallow vessel that will hold all your fillets. I usually use a pie plate for 2-4 portions or a glass baking dish for up to 12 portions. Pour enough soy sauce to cover the bottom of the vessel by 0.5 cm and add some maple syrup. For a pie plate, I add about 2 tbsp, but adjust according to your own tastes.

2. Grate in a 2 cm-long knob of ginger (or more if you like) and sprinkle with pepper to taste.

3. Mix it all together with a fork and TASTE. Depending on your brand of soy sauce, you may need to add some salt or more maple syrup. Adjust the seasonings.

4. Place your fillets into the vessel and let them marinate in the goodness for as long as you can wait, flipping them over every once in a while. Sometimes I think ahead and do this part as soon as I get home from work so they marinate for 1 hr or so, but sometimes I just let them sit for 10 min if we're in a hurry to eat.

5. Preheat your oven to 425 F. Oil a metal baking tray and place the fillets gently on the tray, with at least 2 cm between them.

6. Bake until done. Yeah, that's right. It's now up to you to watch the fillets. When I'm making 2-4 fillets, I usually check them after 6 minutes, then I watch diligently. When I'm making 6 fillets, I check them after 10 minutes, then I watch diligently. Sometimes I take them out and poke them with a butter knife to see if they're about to start flaking.

DO NOT OVERCOOK. Know that after you take them out, they will keep on baking with the residual heat left in the fish and on the baking tray.

7. Serve with Garlic Scallion Noodles (inspired by Jaden) and steamed baby bok choy like in the photo above, or choose your own favourite sides.


  1. Wendy has had this one and agrees that it is excellent. A fine choice to put your signature on.

    Mike thinks that you ought to catch your own Alaskan Salmon. Also expensive (unless you live in Alaska), but you could just have meat only once a year to make up for it.

  2. This looks really wonderful (no spitting or Ramsey-style)expletives needed. I am also intrigued by the noodles! Thanks for posting this!

  3. I made a kind of dish before, by substituting for kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce), instead of soy sauce and maple syrup. Also added crushed chili.

    Please take a look at

  4. yum....what a great way to eat salmon (though I'd be happy to eat it every day)...

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