Here’s a dish that is great any time of year: either done in the oven or, if the weather permits, on a cedar plank on the barbecue. What puts this dish over the top in my opinion is the Meyer lemon zest. When I first concocted this, I used regular lemons. Then, a few years ago when I came across the much ballyhooed Meyer lemons, I tried them and the dish was truly elevated. I became an instant convert to the power of this very special lemon lauded by chef’s the world over for its unique floral aroma and its mild, almost sweet taste. There is no ‘sour’ or ‘bite’ to this lemon and the flavor and aroma will surely stump all but the most ardent of your diners.
One final note: once you’ve found the Meyer lemons (not so easy as they’re seasonal and, even at the best of times, are a ‘specialty’ food), this is a dead simple dish to prepare and is rated ‘A’ for easy.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
Maple Glazed Salmon with Thai Basil and Meyer Lemon
1 whole, large salmon fillet, cut into 6-8 slices
1-2 teaspoons of light season salt
grating of fresh pepper
1/4 cup medium grade Maple syrup
1/4 cup Thai basil, shredded
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest (zest of 1-2 lemons)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Remove salmon from fridge 1-hour before baking. Place olive oil on a baking sheet, preferably earthenware or stone.
3. Wash salmon and pat dry with paper towel. Cut salmon into single servings and place on baking sheet with just enough room between them so they’re not touching. By cutting them in advance, the servings of each fillet will be ‘clean’ — cutting a whole cooked fillet will break and serve looking rather ‘ragged.’
4. Remove the basil leaves and stack them together and roll them like cigar. This will making ‘shredding’ them easy and allow you to create nice even strips. Now zest the lemon using a rasp (i.e. microplane grater). I recommend this over a traditional zester because the skin of the Meyer lemon tends to be more supple and therefore tears with anything less than a razor sharp tool.
5. Evenly sprinkle the salmon with season salt. Then, evenly grate fresh pepper over each fillet as well. Now, evenly drizzle with the maple syrup. I shouldn’t have to say, but, yes, I mean ‘real’ maple syrup. Finally sprinkle with the shredded basil and then the Meyer lemon zest. Voila!
→ Note: measurements above are approximate. Simply, use enough to ‘evenly’ sprinkle
each ingredient. Ultimately, it will depend on how much salmon you’re using.
6. Place baking sheet in oven for 20 minutes. Remove and set oven to Broil. Place salmon under broiler for approximately 5 minutes and watch constantly, rotating as necessary, to ensure salmon evenly crisps and the maple caramelizes ever so slightly. Be very careful when you reach in at this point because the heat of the broiler will cause the salmon oil to splatter.
7. Remove from oven and let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Serving suggestions: Braised Red Cabbage with Apples and a rice or quinoa pilaf. A sauvignon blanc would be an excellent wine for pairing as well.