Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Seattle Salmon in Parchment, from Gael

Seattle Salmon in Parchment, from Gael

Salmon is so popular here in Seattle. I learned this in a cooking class and just love it. It seems complicated to people, but it’s so easy and flavorful.

1 stick butter
Cajun seasoning to taste
6 salmon fillets
1-2 pears, sliced thin
2 onions, caramelized
lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
parchment paper to bake salmon in

First, make some Cajun butter: Soften a stick of butter (don't melt it) and stir into it as much Cajun seasoning as you like. Start with about a teaspoon and stir it all up, decide from there if you like more. If you don't have Cajun seasoning, you can play it by ear, maybe a mix of paprika, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme and oregano (or any of those that you like/have).

Next, slice an onion thinly and caramelize it. I do this by melting a tablespoon of butter in a small frying pan, than adding the onions and some salt, and stirring them around occasionally (on low or medium-low) for about 15 minutes. The salt will draw out a lot of water. Once it does, to dry up the water, you may want to turn up the heat a bit. Add about a teaspoon of sugar (can add more) and keep cooking, stirring more frequently, until they are dark and crisp.

Take your parchment paper (a sheet about the size that would fit a cookie sheet, fold it in half, and cut out a big heart. Put the heart down flat and on one side of the crease, lay your salmon filet (in class we used red snapper, but I used salmon at home, after I tweezed out the little pin bones). If you don't want to cut out a heart, a rectangle of parchment works fine too.

Season the salmon lightly with salt and pepper. You can use other seasonings here, but there really are plenty in the butter. Spread the Cajun butter on the salmon, kind of thickly. Slice a pear thinly, lay a bunch of pear slices on the buttered salmon (you can't have too many pear slices for us). Divide the caramelized onions so each salmon piece gets a fair amount of them. Cut a lemon in half and squeeze a generous amount of lemon juice on the whole thing.

Fold the parchment heart over the salmon. Make little folds all the way around the paper's edge, kind of folding the folds into each other so the parchment is sealed. You can be neat or messy about the folds, up to you, as long as you've closed it in some way, it will work.

Bake on a cookie sheet at 425 for 10 minutes. Salmon does not need to be cooked long, but the paper will be puffed and slightly browned. Let everyone open their salmon package at the table; that keeps all the good juices and aromas in there until ready to eat.

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