As I grow older, I realize that one of the greatest indicators of the amount of independence I have is the amount of cooking I do. I’m no chef by any means but having the opportunity to cook (or making time to cook) means that I no longer rely on outside providers, be it my mother or my college dining hall, and must learn to fend off hunger with my own abilities (of which I don’t have many… but that’s ok). As much as I miss the security of having delicious food available to me at all hours of the day, I’m also excited about the process of learning to do it myself.
Today was my first truly independent day of cooking… previously I was subsisting on food my mom tucked into my suitcase (soft braised pumpkin with green onions… delicious) but today I actually had to feed myself. I was famished when I came home from work, but more than eager to cook a fillet of fresh salmon I had purchased the night before. As I rode the bus home from work I ran through the options in my head; I’d settled on a toasted sesame ginger-soy sauce, but when I got home and went to turn on the stove I realized… I have an oven. AN OVEN. One of those magical contraptions that my dorm last year (and the year before) was sorely lacking. So now I present to you one of my favorite recipes of all time, absolutely fail-proof and always delicious. If you’ve got an especially fresh piece of salmon (thanks Whole Foods fish guy), this simple recipe showcases its delicate flavor perfectly.
Lemon Garlic Oven-Roasted Salmon with Asparagus
1/2 lb. salmon
a bunch of asparagus
1-2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1-3 cloves of garlic
1. Preheat oven to 400. Drizzle a baking pan with olive oil.
2. Wash your asparagus and snap (don’t slice!) the ends off. Because each spear grows at a different rate, snapping ensures that you actually get the best part of the asparagus (thanks, Alton Brown!). Layer the asparagus on the pan and season with salt and pepper. Also season both sides of your salmon fillet with salt and pepper and place it next to the asparagus on the tray.
3. Finely mince your garlic and gently press about half of it onto the salmon; sprinkle the other half onto the asparagus and mix lightly with your hands.
4. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the entire pan; the acidity should pleasantly cut through the richness of the oil and the fish.
5. Place the pan into the oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes depending on the thickness of your fillet.
6. Remove and enjoy!
I thought I would scarf this meal down in seconds considering how hungry I was, but the texture of the fish was so mind-blowing that I actually probably ate this at an absurdly slow pace. I love how really good food can do that. I hope this recipe works as well for you as it has for me (many times over)!