Monday, October 1, 2012

Alton Brown's Parchment Paper Salmon

I love the weekends.  Who doesn't?  I like having big breakfasts on the weekends.   On a recent Saturday, I looked in the refrigerator, and saw that I had some leeks leftover from making the Steak Roll and a salmon filet that I had defrosted and needed to cook.  I decided to make this recipe from Alton Brown.  Salmon for breakfast?  Yes!

This recipe has been a favorite of mine for quite some time.  It sounds quite elegant but its actually super easy and quick.  You are essentially steaming the salmon and vegetables in the parchment paper.  I don't follow the instructions to the letter.  I did the first time I made it and didn't like it.  Why?  It tasted bitter to me and I attributed it to the orange.  So, I made it again, omitted the orange, and changed up the vegetables a bit and I loved it.  Feel free to try the recipe as Alton wrote it as you may like it.  Here is my version.

After getting my ingredients together, my first step was to prepare my parchment.  Tear off a sheet that is about 36 inches long, fold it in half.  I guesstimate this now.  The picture below is my 7" santoku knife over my folded piece of parchment.  I cut my parchment into a heart shape.  You'll want to make the heart a little wider than you think you should.  If you make it too narrow, you wont have room for your salmon and vegetables.

Open up your heart shaped parchment and use whatever you have around to hold it open so you can put your vegetables on one side of the parchment without having to fight the paper. There are three vegetables that I consistently use when I make this salmon:  Leeks, Carrots and Peppers (Yellow or Red).  The leeks provide a light onion flavor and the carrots and peppers provide some sweetness.  I sliced my leeks and placed them on the parchment.

I sliced some carrots into sticks, and added them on top of the leeks.  I sliced some mushrooms and red pepper and added them to the vegetable bed for my salmon.  Its easy to pile on too many vegetables.  Depending on what you use, you'll have to use your eye and decide how much big your can make your  vegetable stack.

Next, I  took the skin off of my salmon filet.  I removed the skin because I dont like to eat the skin if it isn't crispy.   I have to report a kitchen victory here.  This is actually the first time that I managed to get the skin off any piece of salmon without mutilating it!  I think my success was owed to not being afraid to hold my knife at a almost a 45 degree angle from the cutting board.
Pause for a picture!


I use recommended amount of black pepper, coriander, and salt.  Sprinkle half of the spice mixture on your veggies, place the salmon fillet on the vegetable stack and then sprinkle the other half of the spices on the salmon.

Now, its origami time!  Fold your parchment flap over the salmon and vegetables.  Start at whichever end you would like, but I start at the bottom of the heart.  Fold over the edges of the parchment paper once and then again for a second time.

Continue to fold along the edge overlapping ever so slightly so that the fold holds.  Place your parchment pocket on a plate.  I usually tuck the tale at the bottom of the heart under just to make sure it stays shut while in the microwave.  Yes that's right, the microwave.  

Put the salmon in the microwave for 4 minutes.  After four minutes, I usually open a corner to make sure its cooked.  If its not, re-tuck your pocket together and zap it a little longer.  You may need to adjust the cooking time depending on your microwave's strength.  

Is it done?  

Here is the end result: 

Salmon, for breakfast or anytime.

Accessibility and Cost of Ingredients:  I used vegetables I had in my refrigerator.  The great thing about this recipe is that you can try different vegetables using whatever you have around.  Leeks are the only one of the vegetables that I used this time that I don't routinely have in my fridge, but they aren't hard to find at the grocery store.  I've made it without the leeks and its not horrible, but I know I like it better with the leeks.  Salmon can be on the expensive side.  I like to buy a bag of frozen salmon fillets around as its a little more economical than fresh or previously frozen at the seafood counter.

Preparation and Cook Time:  My preparation time was just over 17 minutes including removing the skin from the filet.  If you don't have or want to do that step, your time will be less.  The cook time was 4 minutes.

Clean Up:  Super easy.  I hand washed my knife, but everything else went into the dishwasher or the garbage can.

The Paleo Review:  Thumbs Up!  For a small investment in preparation time, you get a flavorful meal at any time of the day.  This salmon does not tasty fishy to me which is often the case with salmon recipes I try.  The oil in the fish combines with the spices creating a buttery sauce that bathes the vegetables and salmon.  Yum.