A few days ago I found myself in great need of relaxation and soul nourishment, which for me means a solo evening in the kitchen preparing a comfort meal to some folksy background music. On the agenda: Chinese 5-spice broiled salmon over spicy braised kale with Brandi Carlisle on the Amazon echo. Don’t worry, during my month of veganism I’ve allowed myself fish once or twice a week, and salmon was calling my name at the fish market that day.
Allow me to take a minute to talk salmon. I spent most of my adult years living in the Pacific Northwest, which is where my love and snobbery for salmon developed. In my mind salmon isn’t really salmon if it’s not from the Pacific Northwest, especially if it’s farmed in the Atlantic. My deep-rooted bias moved with me to New England, where farmed salmon exists on almost every restaurant menu. I did splurge on Sockeye, King or Copper River from time to time when I saw it at the market, but being one who preaches the localvore lifestyle, it didn’t feel right. So I did without salmon for a few years.
That was until I learned about salmon from the Faroe Islands. It was recommended by my local fishmonger after he politely listened to my whining about my lack of wild salmon from the Northwest. Technically Faroe Island salmon is farmed, and I wouldn’t necessarily call the Faroe Islands, located between Scotland, Norway and Iceland, local. However this fish is the closest replication to wild salmon on the east coast I’ve seen. The unique current of the islands allows ample circulation of fresh seawater, which makes for a nourishing environment not too different than the natural environment of wild salmon. Unlike most farm-raised salmon, this is raised with no antibiotics in very clean, flowing water. It’s also fed a chemical-free, organic diet. From a culinary standpoint, I find the texture quite different than wild salmon from Alaska, Washington or Oregon, which is meatier and has a much deeper pink color from their natural diets of krill and shrimp. Faroe Island salmon is more flaky and the color isn’t quite as deep, but it is not dyed pink like that of other farmed Atlantic salmon. I must admit that while living in New England I’ve grown quite fond of cooking and eating this fish.
With that, I leave you with this recipe for Broiled Chinese 5-Spice Salmon over Spicy Braised Kale. Chinese 5-spice, a mix of cinnamon, ginger, ground fennel, licorice, and anise is one of my current favorite seasonings. Surprisingly sweet and spicy at the same time, it’s the perfect flavor pairing for salmon. And what better soul-food accompaniment than braised greens? This simple recipe is one of my favorite go-tos. Hope you enjoy as much as I do.
Chinese 5-Spice Salmon over Spicy Braised Kale
For the Salmon:
1 lb. Faroe Island salmon fillet, or wild salmon fillet
Juice of ½ lemon
2-3 Tablespoons avocado oil
1 Clove garlic, minced
½ Teaspoon Chinese 5-spice seasoning
1 Teaspoon honey
Place the top rack in your oven about 4-5 inches from the top heat element and heat your broiler to high heat.
Gently rinse salmon under cold running water and pat dry. Place skin-side down in an ovenproof dish and drizzle with avocado oil on all sides of the fish. Squeeze lemon juice on the top surface. Press garlic gently into the fish, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and evenly coat with Chinese 5-spice. Drizzle with honey. Place dish in the oven and cook 6-8 minutes for every inch of thickness. Salmon is cooked when the texture is flaky and the layers begin to separate, or when it reaches in internal temp of 125°F.
Note: removing your salmon from the fridge and allowing it to come to room temp will decrease cooking time.
Note: I opt for avocado oil as it’s better suited for high heat cooking than extra virgin olive oil.
For the Kale:
1-2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Small clove garlic, minced
½ Teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
¼ Onion, chopped
1 Bunch kale, I prefer curly, rinsed and chopped
1 Cup chicken stock or water
3 Tablespoons tamari
½ Teaspoon honey, more for added sweetness
Sprinkle of red chili flakes, or to taste
Coat the bottom of a large frying pan with olive oil and warm over low heat. Add garlic, ginger, and onion and cook until aromatic and onion is translucent, about five minutes.
Add kale and all remaining ingredients to the pan. Turn heat to high, and using a wooden spoon gently stir as the greens cook down. Kale is cooked when softened and bright green, about 2-5 minutes, longer for greens with a tougher texture to start.