Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hobo Mondays: Salmon in Parchment

This whole shebang is inspired by hobo/cheap ass Mondays at thursdaynightsmackdown.com Feeding the two of us for $5 or less is helpful, now that we spend an unreal amount on a radiant heat system.

I reckon I have little different view on eating cheap. We get most of our meat-based protein from things we catch/harvest ourselves. So this dinner clocks in at about $5 for the two of us, but that's because we put up a ton of fish in the summer. No, it's not free because gas was $5 a gallon last summer, but whatever. I get to make up for this by a) never having a farmers market in town b) regularly paying $4 per pound for tomatoes and c) enduring 120 inches of rain per year.

I'll write more about the fish processing that goes on in our world this summer when I'm in the thicky, stinky, mess of it. We're building a cleaning station in our garage specifically for processing the huge amount of fish and deer we use. I can tell you that processing 12 sockeye into smoked treats, cans, and frozen fillets is rewarding but you have to smell like fish for about 2 weeks. And canning fish make your walls sweat fish ick.

Let's face it, I live on Mars. Shops will carry only 1 part of a 2 part epoxy and wonder why you would want the second part. Soft cheese only come in terrible flavors--Mushroom Brie and mango Stilton? Blah. Unbruised, never-been-frozen-on-the-barge-trip produce, for a reasonable amount is pretty close to a religious experience. Anytime I can find a good deal I jump on it and it becomes dinner, thus the asparagus here.

Asparagus is normally close to $5 per pound it was on sale for $1.87. How they manage to get Asparagus from Mexico to Southeast Alaska for $1.87 per pound is a mystery. I went back to the store and now it's on sale for $1.25 so I feel ripped off. Again, Mars.It's a little blurry, but look how cute it is on the counter. All skinny and from Mexico. (that's my view. The whales are back in the sound eating the crap out of the herring.)

I never have all the ingredients on hand for actual book recipes, so I make do. I adapted a recipe from one of the 20 million magazines I went through this weekend. It's a salmon-potato-spinach recipe but it was Monday so there wasn't any spinach in town. (The food barge comes on Tuesday so the best produce to be had is out on Wednesday.)

I used 1/2 side of salmon--from what I think is Coho but the Dirty Fisherman thinks is King. He's wrong, of course. We usually freeze a coho in four parts. I cut it in half lengthwise then cut the tail section off to stack on the meatier center portion. This made a pretty even hunk of meat. (I'm learning when to take pictures for bliggity blogging, I see that a picture of how to cut up the fish would be pretty helpful here.) 1 russet potato, sliced into 1/8 in thick rounds--Thinner would work better, I think. 1/2 onion, sliced thin. The recipe called for shallots but I didn't have any. 1 lemon, sliced into 1/8 in thick rounds. 4 T butter --this is a half of a stick, for a more heart healthy recipe use 2 T oil in place of the butter. 2T Capers, drained and chopped from a giant jar from Costco. 3T or to taste chopped Italian Parsley.

cost about $2.10--parchment could add another $.40--for $2.50

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven to preheat it. This step is really helpful in ensuring that the potatos finish cooking at the same time as the salmon. I didn't believe it at first but it worked.

Mash the butter, capers, and parsley in a bowl. You could add whatever else you want but this combo is really nice over salmon.
All of that gets layered on a sheet of parchment. First place the potatos in a layer, sprinkle with pepper. scatter some onions over the top, dot 1/4 of the butter mixture over the onions and potatos. Place the salmon on the onions, top with more onions, sliced lemons and another 1/4 of the butter mixture.

Wrap this parchment up to make a little package.
As you can see it's pretty tall, so you need about 2 feet of parchment for each package. I start at one side and kind of fold and wrap until I get a half moon. Bake for 20 minutes or until the parchment puffs. It took about 20 minutes for this size salmon fillets. Any more and it gets over cooked and fishy. I usually salt food after from one of my 5 types of salt. I'm like a collector of salts. I used a red sea salt from Hawaii here, but a palm salt or an alder smoked salt would be really good.

I can't take credit for the Asparagus, I got a recipe from my Bon Appetite cookbook. I made a saffron Aioli--with honey, red wine vinegar, and a pinch of saffron. After that boiled it got mixed with some Mayonaise. It turned out ok, I may try to avoid the mayo next time and make a real Aioli. Week days I'm not so picky.

I sauteed the Asparagus in cast iron pans. It would have been better on a grill but I don't have one so I made do.

Some accounting: $2.50 for the salmon + $1.75 for the asparagus + misc herbs and staples and gas for the boat = $ 5 (about)
This was declared a winner. I liked how easy it was and how the potatoes absorbed all the moisture from the salmon, lemons and onions. It could be an all in one meal if you actually live in a place where you can get spinach. I think using Shallots instead of the onion would be terrific, but I don't always have shallots and those at the store are only shallots in the academic sense.

I'm still refining my food writing, so forgive the rough nature of this. Also, I'll take pointers if you got them.


2 Salmon filets
1 Russet potato, sliced into thin rounds
1/2 Onion sliced (or shallots, you would need 3)
1 Lemon sliced into thin rounds
4T Butter
2T Capers, drained and chopped
3T Italian Parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven to warm up. Mix the butter, capers and parseley in a bowl.

Divide the potatoes between two pieces of parchment, layer them so they are a little wider than the salmon fillets. Sprinkle onions over the top and a little pepper. Dot with some of the butter mixture. Place the layers of salmon over the onions. Sprinkle the rest of the onions over the top, place the lemon slices and dot with the rest of the butter mixture.

Fold into the parchment--they should look like half moons. Place on pre heated baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes or until they puff. Try not to over cook these, over cooked fish gets more fishy tasting.

Season with salt to taste


  1. I love reading your blog. As a TV producer once told me, you have to inform, entertain and elicit a response. PLUS, your recipes and photos are really great. WRITE.A.COOKBOOK. [I can add a really great Jewish coffeecake :)]

  2. Thanks for the generous word about my photos. I really don't think they're that good, but I'm getting better.

  3. tried this recipe- or close to it and we LOVED it! used shallots as suggested and king salmon-mmmmmm.
    i am so grateful for all your nummy recipes and mouth-watering pics! thanks for taking the time to do this!xodi