Years ago, after a few (or 5 …) failed attempts at cooking various kinds of fish, I told my husband that fish and I had officially broken up. When cooking fish during these failed attempts, it was always my experience that in the few mere seconds of suspecting (or guessing) that the fish was undercooked, I would subsequently overcook it and place a piece of rubber on mine and my husband’s plate (because I won’t waste food). I know I’m not alone here. Or at least I hope I’m not alone. I love fish and this break-up was hard on me. Of course when we went out to eat, fish and I were on again. I was happy and oh so grateful to order a fish fillet carefully prepared under the experienced and watchful eye of the chef in the kitchen.
I’m not sure how long it took me to gather the courage to prepare fish again, but it was all thanks to a little recipe on Epicurious that called for baking it in parchment paper – OF COURSE! The recipe called for the fish to be cooked by wrapping the individual fillets in cute little pockets of parchment paper. Cooking it in this way keeps the moisture and flavor in, but, more importantly, this method is a bit more forgiving with cooking times. I have had fantastic success preparing fish this way ever since!
Beyond the salmon, this dish celebrates spring. It highlights asparagus, peas, and radishes, which go together like asparagus, peas, and radishes. The flavors are such a classic trio – hearty crunch and flavor from the asparagus, sweetness from the peas, and a bit of pepper from the radishes. And this trio pairs so nicely with the hearty and slightly chewy texture of wild rice. This dish is earthy and rustic, yet light. It brings all the sights and smells of spring onto your plate to enjoy.
I wish you salmon cooking success and enjoyment of this hearty meal!
- Parchment Paper – Obviously not an ingredient, but I recommend you use the unbleached variety of parchment paper. Bleached parchment paper when heated can/may/might leach dioxin, which you can read about here and why I advise you to avoid it. There are several brands of unbleached parchment paper which are available at your local grocery store or on Amazon. I use the If You Care brand.
- Rice – Rice naturally has higher levels of arsenic than most foods as it absorbs it from the soil. I still eat it, but am mindful of how often I do, which is once a week or so. There are ways to reduce the arsenic in your rice, however, as explained wonderfully by the Tree Hugger here. Spoiler – soaking rice overnight removes a good amount!
Spring Salmon Dish
- 1 cup dry wild rice or mixture of wild and brown
- 2 cups veggie stock or 1 cup chicken stock and 1 cup water
- 2 individual-sized salmon fillets each about 1/3 lb
- 8-10 stalks asparagus ends removed and chopped into 1/2" pieces
- 4 - 6 radishes sliced to form circles about 1/8" thick
- 1/2 cup frozen green peas
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil melted
- 2 garlic cloves grated, divided
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
- 1/4 cup cilantro finely chopped, chop before measuring
- 3 tablespoons chives finely chopped, chop before measuring
- 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon salt * See Notes
Preheat the oven to 375.
Place rice in a medium pot along with stock (and water if using) and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and cook covered for as long as the package indicates (usually 40 minutes or so).
While the rice is cooking, prepare the salmon for baking. In a small bowl mix the coconut oil, 1 garlic clove, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and a few pinches of salt. Set aside.
Using 2 good-sized pieces of parchment paper (about 12 inches long), divide the asparagus and radishes between the two sheets and top with a salmon fillet each. Spread the oil mixture on top of the salmon fillets, dividing it equally between the two. Form small pockets with the parchment paper by bringing two sides of the paper together at the top, rolling them together and then down. Next, roll and crease the two sides to finish off making the pockets.
Begin cooking the salmon when the rice has about 5-10 minutes left to cook. (The rice will stay nice and warm in the pot after it's done cooking.) Place the salmon in the oven and bake for 14-16 minutes on the center rack of the oven. When done, the salmon is flaky.
With a few minutes left on the rice (2-3 minutes left), add in the peas and continue to cook. Cooking the peas gently will keep their bright green color.
When the rice and peas are done, stir in 1 garlic clove, 2 teaspoons honey, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, cilantro, chives and salt. Allow it to sit.
When the salmon and veggies are done, remove from the oven and mix the asparagus and radishes in with the rice.
Serve the rice salad next to or under the salmon fillet.
Recipe Notes* I cook my rice in homemade chicken stock that has NO added salt. If you are using veggie or chicken stock with salt already in it, start by adding just 1/2 teaspoon to the rice and vegetables. Taste and then add the final 1/4 teaspoon if you'd like.