Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ginger Chili Salmon in Parchment Paper

Five great reasons to steam your next meal in parchment paper:

  • Moisture – all juices stay sealed inside your neat little steamy packet.

  • Flavor – as with life, when you mix a lot of tantalizing things in a confined space high passions are going to ignite and fantastic new combinations will emerge.

  • Less Mess – just imagine, your entire dinner cooks itself in one neat little paper packet which, if not strictly recyclable, can be shredded and composted!

  • Fancy – Your family and friends will be amazed when you tell them you’ve learned the French technique of cooking "en papillote".

  • Fun! What could be more fun than "unwrapping" your perfect dinner like a birthday gift?

Ginger-Chili Salmon in Parchment Paper

What you’ll need:

24 oz fresh salmon (approx 8 oz per fillet, 3 total)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves (washed, de-stemmed)
2 small lemons, sliced in 1/4 in rounds
2 tbsp minced garlic (approx 6 small cloves)
1 1/2 - 2 tbsp finely minced ginger
1 large Anaheim chili pepper
6 carrots (2 per fillet)
1 tbsp gluten free SAN-J tamari sauce per fillet (3 tbsp total)
2 tbsp olive oil per fillet (6 tbsp total)
1 tbsp butter per fillet (3 total)
Parchment paper (approx 18 in per fillet)*

Optional side:

1 pkg Trader Joe’s organic polenta (18 oz)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
Grated parmesan cheese (to taste)

How It Works:

Fresh wild salmon always tastes the best… but if your family is on a budget like ours, using defrosted Whole Catch Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon will work just fine for this recipe. If you are using frozen fillets, your first step should be to defrost the fish.

Next, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Put a pot of water on to boil. While it is heating, begin preparing your other ingredients. Wash and de-stem your cilantro, slice your lemons into 1/4 inch rounds, mince your garlic and ginger very finely. Wash and core your Anaheim chili pepper, but do not slice it yet. Rinse your carrots and trim their ends.

When the water is boiling, throw in your 6 carrots and Anaheim chili pepper. Blanch these vegetables in the water for approximately 2 – 4 minutes, depending on whether you like your vegetables al dente or very tender. When you have completed blanching the carrots and chili pepper, remove them from the water and slice them in half lengthwise, and then slice each of the halves in half as well. You will end up with approximately 8 thin slices of carrot and three thin slices of Anaheim chili pepper per fillet.

In a separate pan, lightly sauté your onions and ginger in olive oil until they are fragrant but not well cooked. Set aside.

Lay a sheet of parchment paper (approx 18 inches) out flat on a baking tray. Lay one third your carrot and pepper strips on the paper, toward the end of one of the widths. Slice two of your lemon rounds in half, and lay the four pieces next to your vegetables. Sprinkle a pinch of garlic over your vegetables.

Next, skin your salmon fillet. Salt and pepper it on each side, according to your taste. Place the salmon on top of your lemon slices, and dust it with another small pinch of garlic. Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil over your salmon and another tablespoon of olive oil over your vegetables.

Now use one third of your sautéed onion/ginger medley to sprinkle over both the salmon and vegetables until they are fairly well covered. Place cilantro leaves over both the salmon and vegetables. Pour your tablespoon of gluten free SAN-J tamari sauce over the salmon, and add one last lemon round (slice) on top of your salmon fillet. Finally cut one tablespoon of butter into pieces and place them over the entire piece of salmon.

You should have half of a sheet of parchment paper sticking out from your salmon creation. Fold this half over the salmon as though you are creating an envelope. Roll up the front ends so that the paper is tightly sealed, and wrap the rest of the paper under the weight of your salmon so that all moisture remains inside the parchment 'packet' while your salmon and vegetables are cooking.

Repeat this process 3 times (to create three packets of salmon), or as many times as you need in order to feed your dinner party. When you have finished creating each parchment packet, place them on one or more baking sheets and bake them in your preheated oven for approximately 12 – 14 minutes. Our oven runs hot, so I steamed our dinner for 12 minutes.

When you have finished steaming your salmon fillets, remove the trays from the oven. Let them sit for several minutes (4 – 6) with all ingredients still tightly sealed within their parchment packets to achieve maximum moisture, flavor and perfectly cooked fish.

Serve with rice, salad, or in our case – polenta! If you choose to make the polenta, simply warm 1 tbsp of olive oil with 1 tbsp of butter in a wide oven-proof sauté pan. Slice your polenta into rounds, salt and pepper it lightly, and fry it until each piece is golden brown on both sides. Remove pan from heat, grate fresh parmesan over your polenta rounds, and then place in your still-hot oven for approximately 1 minute until parmesan cheese is melted and delicious.

* About the parchment paper… we use a brand called If You Care which you can find at natural foods stores such as Whole Foods Market. It is silicone coated, 100% unbleached paper, non-toxic when incinerated, quilon free, chrome free and has no heavy metals added.

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