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Wild Baked Salmon with Basil Butter

April 1st, 2009

Today I’m going to share with you a recipe from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food cookbook that’s easy peasy, and so delicious (not like my failed pumpkin ice cream experiment–which was supposed to be easy peasy, but was not). The recipe I’ll share is for wild baked salmon with a freshly-prepared herb butter (in this case, I used basil). Make sure to get the best fillets of salmon that you can find, as the fish cooks very fast, at a very high temperature so that that the center of the fish is still slightly pink, while the outside is firm.

Ever since I acquired my Aerogarden (thanks, Mom and Dad), Matt and I have been enjoying fresh herbs like basil, thyme and mint at a moment’s notice. Sunday morning scramble? No need to head to the market to pick up fresh herbs! Last minute baked chicken? No problem!

We’re big seafood people in general–I’d say we eat seafood at least twice a week. And when it comes to recipes? We often play. Play it by ear, that is. I find that if you get a really great piece of fish, there’s little you need to do with it, particularly if you want its natural flavors to really come out. Salmon is definitely a fish that can sing, or sink. A farmed fillet can be taken to new levels, but not quite the same levels as a fresh wild piece of salmon. Straight from the market wild fish doesn’t need much: some salt, some butter, some pepper, some garden-fresh herbs. The prep time is very limited–meaning you could whip this up late on a Monday night, or early on a Saturday. I particularly like this fish paired with a hearty, aromatic wild rice (as long as we’re going wild, right?). Quick tip on the rice: cook it in stock and add some butter–the fragrance and velvety texture really do add something.

I’ve made quite a few things from Alice Waters’ cookbook, and every time am impressed with the short list of the ingredients, which combine to create big tastes. This one is definitely a keeper.

Baked Wild Salmon with Basil Butter
recipe c/o Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution

2 very fresh fillets of wild Alaskan salmon
Salt and fresh pepper
3 tablespoons of basil butter (recipe follows)
olive oil, to taste

For the basil butter
3 tablespoons of butter, at room temperature
about a 1/4 cup of chopped basil (you can make herb butter with parsley or chives–we just used basil)
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
a pinch of cayenne pepper
fresh squeezed lemon juice (about a teaspoon)

Combine all of the ingredients in a ramekin, making sure to mix thoroughly with a fork. Set aside.

1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Oil a baking dish, then prepare the salmon by seasoning it with salt and freshly-ground pepper.
3. Place the salmon in the baking dish, skin side down, then use a silicone brush to generously oil the fish.
4. Bake the salmon for about 10 minutes (check it after 7-8). The flesh of the fish should feel firm, but the inside should still be slightly pink.
5. Place the salmon on a plate and generously spoon the basil butter over the fillets. We served the salmon on a bed of wild rice and spooned additional basil butter over it throughout the meal.

Musical Pairings: The Field – From Here We Go Sublime and Wild Baked Salmon

Some of the best dishes are made with few ingredients. The basil butter salmon is one of these dishes–consisting of fresh basil, butter, garlic, salt and pepper. Likewise, the Field’s album From Here We Go Sublime really makes the most of very few ingredients.

On the Field’s From Here We Go Sublime, Axel Willner crafts a minimalist techno/trance masterpiece based on pretty basic drum tracks, hi hats, and well selected and well placed samples looped almost endlessly. The result is an elegant and driving sort of nearly ambient electronica that seems almost effortless. I say “nearly ambient” primarily because Willner builds many of his songs by selecting a sample that alone sounds ambient. But then, he carefully swaps out samples to create a building rhythm that makes tracks such as the danceable “The Little Heart Beats So Fast” entirely enjoyable. Other highlights on the album include the song “Silent,” which is built in part from samples of Coldplay’s “The Scientist.”

You can sample the Field – From Here We Go Sublime on the Kompakt website. –Matthew


  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09405010813656127667 Sara

    I’ve always wanted one of those aerogardens! The salmon looks delicious, since I only have an outdoors garden I’ll have to wait another month or so to plant my basil :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05641448576726538534 Kasey

    Sara: I love my aerogarden! But, if I could have a real garden, I’d be even happier!

  • http://Rakshanoreply@blogger.com Raksha

    Kasey – I am baking this now with the basil butter. I will tell you how it is tomorrow. Smells great!!

  • http://www.aero-garden.us/ Aerogarden

    No more scramble on Sunday morning..! What a nice. Aerogarden is an interesting product. It is really make people's life (gardeners' actually) a lot easier.Interesting story. I enjoy reading it, till the end of paragraph. You must live a happy family's life :)

  • http://www.aero-garden.us/ Aerogarden

    Sara said: I love my aerogarden! But, if I could have a real garden, I'd be even happier!I agree with you Sara. No matter how good the technology, natural ways still rules..!