Okay, so being the World of Warcraft geek that I am, I got sorta excited when I saw there was a cooking column in the WoW Insider blog that shared real-life versions of game items. Items, like, say, Baked Salmon (skill level 275, uses Raw Whitescale Salmon and Soothing Spices). This glee turned to disappointment, however, when I found that the WI version of it was covered in dairy products (sigh. lactose) and needed wheat germ. Wheat germ WTF? So off I went to Allrecipes and dug up a more appropriate recipe for us — not only is it free of dairy, but it uses completely normal ingredients that all fall under “salmon” or “spices”. In my opinion, this comes way closer to representing the base material, while being much more palatable for my household.
Baked Salmon with white rice and a side of veggies. This dinner got the official seal of NOM NOM NOM from the boy, who can get somewhat skeptical over my cooking experiments, so I am quite happy with the recipe.
Our ingredient lineup, save for the fish fillets. They were a bit camera-shy and hiding in the refrigerator at the time. This recipe is calibrated for 2 6–oz. fillets of salmon.
So out comes a big bowl that can fit your fish pieces. In goes 1 heaping teaspoon of dried basil (2 o’clock), 1 level teaspoon salt (5 o’clock), 1 level teaspoon ground black pepper (7 o’clock), 1/2 rounded tablespoon of dried parsley (9 o’clock) and 1 teaspoon of garlic powder (12 o’clock). The original recipe called for 2 minced cloves of garlic, but I personally HATE mincing garlic or onions, so always get the dried varieties and just re-hydrate them. I wasn’t about to go out to the store just to get fresh parsley, either, so was content with the dried stuff on the shelf. Since all of this was going to be marinating in oil for an hour anyway, I figured it’d all plump up and the flavors would mix together just fine. As long as the substitutions are roughly equivalent (use much less dried stuff, basically), it saves a road trip and lots of time.
Toss six tablespoons of light olive oil and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in with the spices and mix it all up well. Plop your 2 6–oz salmon fillets into that marinade, make sure they’ve been exposed to it on all sides and are soaking it up. Cover and marinate in the fridge for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, turning occasionally. There is some disagreement over how long fish should be marinated — purists will say no more than half an hour, but I find salmon to be tough enough that it still tastes like salmon an hour later. Besides, marinating in oil is much gentler than a water-based marinade.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Get out a couple pieces of tin foil big enough to wrap the salmon in. Even larger if you want to cook a few veggies in there with it, which I highly recommend. Multitasking saves both oven energy and your own energy. So onto each foil, put that piece of marinated salmon, half of the marinade, and a small handful of frozen peas and carrots if you like.
Wrap up your packet, starting by pinching together the foil lengthwise in the middle, then rolling up the ends to seal everything in.
Place your two salmon packets in a glass baking dish and scoot them into the oven. The original recipe calls for 35–40 minutes, but I find that to be far too long. All you need is for the salmon to get flakey, and I was able to reach that by baking for 25 minutes, including vegetables. I don’t like my salmon overly cooked because dry fish is icky. Heck, I prefer my salmon raw most of the time, to be honest. So try cooking for 20–25 minutes, then take a peek and see if it’s done enough for you and go longer if you feel the need.
Open up your foil packets (carefully, wearing oven mitts unless you like pain) and there you go! You’re ready to plate. Put this over white rice, drizzling the marinade over everything, and dinner is served.