I normally don’t shop at Market Basket, mostly because it’s like shopping a day before the hurricane – every day of the year. I’d rather pay slightly more for the luxury of actually getting through an aisle without someone asking me how my grandmother is doing. It’s been even crazier recently because of our big Lenten holiday. No not St. Patrick’s, but St. Joseph’s Day, which is a big deal among us Sicilian-Americans. While our Irish friends buy up the corned beef, my ethnic group stocks up on fava beans, chickpeas, cauliflower and fennel for our traditional St. Joseph’s pasta. So as I was picking up some last-minute items and weaving through throngs of distant cousins, I naturally wandered to the seafood section.
The fresh fish looked a little picked over, but in the frozen section they had sides of sockeye salmon on sale. The price was right, had nice red color and no freezer burn, so I got a skin-on side of sockeye a little shy of 1.5 pounds. This time of year, any wild salmon you see is frozen or previously frozen, remember that when you see all that Pacific salmon displayed from fall through mid-spring. After thawing overnight in the fridge, I’m ready to find out if this supermarket sockeye is any good.
Packaging and Product
I did not get the biggest side of salmon, but I picked one without any freezer burn or frost crystals on the fish and seemed to have a good ratio of meat to skin. Packaging was the bare minimum: a thick plastic freezer sleeve with a supermarket print out tag. Besides the price, salmon species and “product of USA” there was little else to go on. However with the fish in a clear plastic package, it was obvious what you were getting versus other frozen fish that show a serving suggestion but the tiny odd-shaped pieces are well hidden in the package.
I brought it home and put it in my refrigerator meat drawer to thaw overnight. I cut it into two uneven portions and proceeded to remove the pinbones I could find. Interesting that most online resources tell you to use needle nose pliers, but I found a sturdy pair of tweezers worked better and didn’t dig into the salmon.
I decided to modify this recipe I found online for maple salmon by adding some honey and replacing garlic salt with seasoning salt. For the maple syrup I used grade A amber from New Hampshire and I used tamari for the soy sauce. After a 30 minute marinade in the fridge I put the fish on a baking sheet, basted a bit more of that sweet, sticky sauce on it, and a dash of my ubiquitous lemon zest. More or less, I followed the recipe, which seems fool-proof. Well, let’s see how this fool made out.
As it was cooking there was some smoke from the my overzealous marinade, but I noticed that the aroma reminded me of hot-smoked salmon. Maybe it’s just the beers talking but the small smokeshow in my kitchen actually smelled good. At 400F it took a little over 20 minutes, but my wife likes hers a little more done so I lowered the temp to 375 and gave her piece a couple extra minutes.
It was not my favorite piece of salmon, the gray matter that I couldn’t remove with the skin was stronger than I liked. What was not covered in the maple sauce had an overall “fishy” taste. However that maple marinade can be put on a shoe and I’ll eat it. All in all it just wasn’t a good tasting piece of salmon but for $10 I don’t regret the experiment. The more I think about it, it may have been an old piece of fish, from early last season. Lesson learned and next time I’ll be buying my wild caught salmon elsewhere.