Happy Father’s Day Papa
Much of what I know about cooking, I learned from eating good food. My dad didn’t cook much when I was little, but he was a wiz when it came to preparing the fish he caught near our home in Seattle. Adding aïoli to the fish before baking would not have occurred to me, but it makes the fish succulent and delicious. My dad started making salmon this way after eating halibut prepared similarly by my grandfather who was living in the Aleutian Islands. And if you live in Alaska, you know how to prepare good fish! In honor of Father’s Day, I thought it would be fitting that I share a recipe that has been passed down from one fisherman father to another.
This recipe can be prepared with any type of salmon, though it’s especially good with sockeye, which tends to be drier (and usually less expensive) than King and Coho. I highly recommend using wild salmon, which is currently in season. It’s more ecological, tastes better, and is even more nutritious. The dill aïoli layered with onions and sliced lemons looks sophisticated and adds depth of flavor. When I make the aïoli, I can’t help but dip my fingers, potatoes, or whatever is available into the sauce. It’s that good!!! For an elegant presentation, serve the salmon on a bed of baby spinach. For a Father’s Day dinner, serve with potatoes (boiled, baked, roasted, or mashed) and corn on the cob or a green salad.
Baked Salmon with Dill Aïoli
1 1/4 pound wild salmon fillet (plan on about 5 oz per person)
1/2 of small yellow onion, sliced into thin rounds or half moons
1 lemon, sliced into thin rounds
1/2 cup real mayonnaise
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp. dried dill
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic, dill, and salt to make the aïoli. Layer two sheets of aluminum foil lengthwise (you will be wrapping the salmon completely in the foil, so if it doesn’t look like it will cover the fish, add a few more sheets of foil crosswise). Place the salmon in the middle of the foil and evenly coat the top of the fish with the dill aïoli. Sprinkle the onions on top. For the final layer, cover the fish by overlapping the lemon rounds, but if you’re short on lemon, one or two per person is sufficient. Fold the foil around the fish like you’re wrapping a gift, making sure it’s completely encased. If there are holes or gaps, juices will escape and you’ll be left with a stinky mess to clean in the oven. Place the salmon package on the middle rack in the oven and bake until the fish is firm and flaky but still slightly pink on the inside. The cooking time depends on the thickness of your fish, but it should take about 45 minutes. Keep an eye on it, so the fish doesn’t overcook and dry out. Happy Father’s Day!
I loved fishing with my dad (Papa) when I was a little girl!