There was a time when my daughter would fish anchovies out of the jar and eat them whole, and when both kids lapped them up on pizza, and those times are no more. They don’t dislike anchovies so much as they don’t prefer them. Whole, anyway. More
If you’re spending a sunny day on a small boat in the Mediterranean and your captain leaves briefly, in an even smaller boat, to do some fishing, then you’ll have a conversation with your vegetarian children about fresh food, trying new things, being polite to one’s hosts, and eating the best of what a place has to offer.
It’s a conversation you have often, though you have never done it in a bathing suit, rocking gently on the waves.
When the captain returns with his catch, you remind the kids about their great uncle and a lake in the Adirondack Mountains and some small bites of fish, many summers ago. They don’t quite remember, but they believe you. One boy looks away while the captain prepares the fish but the other watches closely:
Things to remember about prawns on a random Tuesday night:
- They can be bathed in a drizzle of olive oil, a puddle of warm butter, a splash of white wine, a whole head of garlic, a squeeze of lemon.
- They cook in 5 minutes.
- They’re finger food. Messy, buttery, garlicky, finger food.
- The kids will say thank you.
- There will never be enough.
- See #4.
Four parents. Four kids. A long weekend. California sun. A traveling bar. Mojitos. The season’s first salmon. The last oranges from our tree.
Grilled Salmon with Citrus Herb Marinade
This is similar to many other salmon dishes I’ve written about here, but this particular combination of fragrant herbs, mild spring garlic, and fresh, sweet juice is an especially winning one.
- 2lbs salmon filets
- 1/2-3/4 cup Fresh orange juice,
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2-4 large springs basil
- bunch fresh cilantro
- 1 stalk spring garlic
Marinate salmon with juice, oil, garlic and herbs in a ziplock bag for several hours, turning occasionally.
Heat grill on high, then lower heat to medium and grill salmon until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately or, later, at room temperature.
Finn loves spring: the flowers, the sun, the warm days, the bright nights. He loves snap peas and peapods, which he eats by the bagful, and he loves eating outside. Mostly he loves salmon. He talks about it all year, until that spring day when it shows up on Pietro’s table at the market, and then, if I give Finn the task of choosing the fish for the week, he will always chose salmon. Filets, steaks, smoked, fins, tail. He doesn’t care. He’d take any of it, he’d take all of it if I let him. If only I could afford it.
But the thing is, we’ve had very little salmon over the past four years. I don’t think we had salmon once last summer, and we had little in 2008 and 2009 when the local fishery was closed. Even when it returned, the season was drastically cut back and there was not much available. So not only has it been hard to find local salmon, it’s been very, very expensive. Worse: it’s been very, very hard on the fisherman.
Still, Finn remembers his pink fish. Maybe it’s the color, a vibrant memory jumping to mind, or maybe it’s the legend that ties their majestic leap to his saint. Regardless, now it’s spring, and the salmon are back, and when I saw the piles of bright filets and steaks, their glistening, silvery skin, and Finn stood next to me eyeing the bounty with a gasp and a smile, I grabbed a cool, heavy package. It was pricey; I didn’t think about the price. Big agriculture is pumping poison into chicken, and in the face of that insanity, I will gladly pay Pietro for this treasure, caught off a boat docked 30 minutes from my house, a boat Finn as seen and touched. We have waited for this. We know exactly what it’s worth: for Pietro, for the sea, on our table. Even Finn understands: it’s worth the wait. It’s worth paying for.
Salmon with Spring Salsa
- 1 lb salmon filet
- 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 stalk spring garlic, finely sliced, including light and some of dark green stalk
- 2 spring onions, finely sliced including tender green stalk
- 4 leaves basil, rolled and sliced into ribbons (a chiffonade)
- kosher salt
- Olive oil
- 1/2 lemon
- Italian bread, sliced for crositini
- Combine chopped tomatoes, sliced green garlic and onion, and basil in a medium sized bowl. Dress with salt to taste and olive oil. Cover and let macerate (for as much time as you have).
- Place salmon on a large bed of foil and sprinkle with salt. Squeeze the juice of the lemon over the fish.
- Pour salsa over the fish, including macerating juices.
- Place another sheet of foil over the fish and salsa, then seal salmon and salsa into a foil pack by crimping the edges tightly closed.
- Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let rest in pack for five minutes.
- While salmon is resting, lightly toast Italian bread.
- Open foil pack and serve immediately, using the toasted bread for extra salsa.