Being a non-Pacific NW native, my introduction to salmon came in my mid-20s. Actually, fish in general was pretty scarce growing up in the desert of Arizona. My town of Yuma got about 1 ½ to 2 inches of rainfall a year, and summer days meant over 110 degrees. We could literally fry an egg on the sidewalk, burn our feet on the asphalt, & bake cookies in the car. There is an unspoken rule of leaving pretty much anything in the car. Crayons, chocolate, & tape cassettes (you know those rectangle things that play music) would be melted or warped.
A friend of my dad’s went fishing & gave him some of his catch. A couple days later my mom opened the car door to find a stench comparable to death awaiting her. She searched the car looking for the cause. Moments later, she found a rather dead, heat-baked fish under the driver side seat...just where my dad left it two days prior. The car would be assumed useless from that point, decorated with green pine trees on the inside & labeled “the fish mobile.”
It’s possibly what tainted my brother from ever eating fish again. However, I never let a turn of the nose get in the way of what could be a culinary masterpiece. And here is where I introduce ‘Fish en papillote.” I was inspired to share this after reading Lyndsey Needham write, “FINALLY succeeded in baking salmon without overcooking it.”
Two things are true about salmon. One, don’t bake it in a car. Two, don’t overcook it. The first one being a bit more simple to follow, while the second seems like it’s hit or miss. Fish en papillote literally means “fish in parchment.” You place the salmon on a piece of parchment paper & seal the edges. What you get about 13-15 minutes later is delicate, meaty salmon.
To top off the upcoming Fourth of July, I also wanted to share one of my favorite salads this time of year. It’s my Watermelon-Heirloom Tomato Salad. It’s refreshing, different (in a good way) & intriguing. On first bite, you get the sweetness of the watermelon paired with the acidity of the tomatoes & balsamic vinegar. Then, there’s the lingering of the subtle licorice/fennel-like flavor found in the tarragon. And of course, the creaminess of the avocado is never a bad thing. Served at room temperature & you’re sure to have created a food memory. This salad must be made at my in-laws every Fourth of July for that very reason.
Happy food making memories!