lundi 30 juillet 2007

Naked: good in some contexts, not-so-good in others

I'm the sort who, whilst tanning on the beach, likes to undo the straps of her bikini top as to avoid tan lines on her back. So, I suppose, that were you to encounter me on the beach while I'm lying on my stomach, you might think that I have no top on. But I do. You just can't see it at the moment.

Hence, I guess I shouldn't be so surprised that while I was lying on my stomach, trying to get my back tanner, that some old European guy (complete with short shorts, hairy chest and back, and gold chain) came over to me and asked, "Is this a topless beach?"

And then to follow it up with, "In my country, there are lots of topless beaches. There are even all-nude beaches! There is no shame in nudity there!"

It's always the ones you don't want to see naked who revel in it the most.


Anyway. I know that it's summer, and I know that turning on the oven in the summer is a complete anathema, but sometimes a little bit of heat has to be endured for some good food. Namely, salmon - I'm very particular with how I like my salmon cooked. I want it just this side of raw, which usually means that searing, pan-frying, grilling, roasting... all those options for cooking salmon are out, unless the person cooking is really skilled and can keep most of the salmon raw. Plus, those methods quite literally make the kitchen stink of fish for days.

I was thus overjoyed to find a recipe in the LA Times a couple of weeks back for slow-cooked salmon. Essentially, you roast your salmon in an oven set at very low heat, which cooks the salmon yet keeps it moist and your kitchen odor-free. It really works.

Obviously, only use good salmon for this, as this method of cooking only enhances the freshness of the fish. Not-fresh fish = not-fresh results. Since I've been spending more time at the beach, I usually make a point to stop by a fish market on my way home, where nearly everything's been caught that day.

While the recipe calls for roasting the salmon on a bed of onions, I used oranges since I didn't have any onions in my apartment, and I figured that oranges would work fine. They did, and they imbued the skin with the slightest hint of orange flavor. Anything to create a rack so that any fishy juices end up in the bottom of the pan rather than back in the fish.


Before and after shots of the salmon. Really, not so much difference there.

Slow-roasted salmon
Adapted from the LA Times

For each serving:
1 salmon fillet (5-6 ounces)
coarse sea salt
olive oil
1/2 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced (or, thinly sliced citrus fruit)
1 tablespoon chopped fines herbes (or, whatever. I skipped this part)

Sprinkle the salmon evenly with sea salt to taste, about 1/4 teaspoon on each fillet. Set aside for about 30 minutes to bring to room temperature.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 225 degrees.

Brush about 2 tablespoons olive oil over a shallow baking dish just large enough to hold the salmon in one layer. Strew the onion (or citrus) slices over the oil. Brush the fillets lightly with olive oil (about 1 tablespoon per fillet) and place them on the onions, skin side down.

Bake until the salmon is done to your taste. According to the recipe, almost raw is 10 minutes, cooked through is 30 minutes. I let it go for 25 minutes, and the thickest parts of the fillet were still a bit raw. Then again, my oven tends to run a wee bit on the cooler side.

Remove the salmon from the oven, and discard the onion slices. Sprinkle the salmon with the chopped fines herbes, and serve hot or cold. I served mine with a side of corn fritters (corn bought from the farmers' market, of course), some basil from one of my plants, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.