I paid $16.31 for a sliver of salmon yesterday. Just a sliver, enough for one, barely two if you piled the plate high with grilled veggies. Rice or couscous wouldn’t be a bad idea, either, since you won’t have the heart to leave any of the sauce behind. My upbringing, influenced by a Dutch heritage and parents of the Depression Era, was brimming with frugality and a hard work ethic. This translates to spending only what you need to, finding good deals and never wasting anything. Paying that much for a sliver of salmon is easily against ‘my better judgment,’ and a good measure of guilt went with its purchase.
Though for good measure, I gasped when a small piece found its way into the grill instead of onto my plate; and I ate every last bite.
To be sure, paying so much for a slice of salmon should be a compliment to my parents. A genuine hats off, suggesting that even a slice of salmon is worth such a price. My father sometimes went fishing for salmon, and took us as small children. We had salmon sprinkled through our lives, making occasional appearances on our table throughout the years. But we hadn’t paid for it, rather we had caught it—which somehow felt more accomplished—and the whole process took effort and patience. We were grateful for this pink colored flesh, this seafood that was served with grandmother’s special sauce, made exclusively by my mother (sorry: you have to wait for THAT recipe).
So while paying too much for a sliver of salmon may go against my grain, it became an overwhelmingly easy decision to purchase and prepare this salmon with deliberate effort and care, a bit of patience and an appreciation for memories it eschewed. It made more sense to savor this soy glazed salmon, to smile and toast this pink-fleshed fish and my hard working parents. And that very much goes with the grain…
…and of course I finished everything on my plate.
Soy Maple Salmon
recipe serves four.
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 T maple syrup
3 T Asian sesame oil
four 8oz salmon steaks, 1 inch thick
2 inch piece of ginger, minced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
scallions for garnish
Blend soy, syrup and oil and pour into shallow dish. Add the steaks in a single layer, turning to coat. Blend ginger and garlic, and rub into both sides of steaks. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, turning occasionally. Place marinade in small saucepan on stover, boil on high until syrupy, around 3 minutes. Light and oil grill; cook steaks 4-6 minutes a side over moderately high heat. Plate fish, pour marinade over and garnish with scallions.
Recipe adapted from Food & Wine, June 2007.