Fall, pre-holiday season, is a time to slow down and enjoy being in the kitchen. Last week, I pulled out some frozen Copper River salmon and gave it the low-and-slow treatment in good olive oil, tossed in some root vegetables, and added oomph with lots of thinly sliced garlic and a bit of heat. I often reach for Sriracha and Korean gochujang but wanted to use up a bit of leftover harissa, a North African paste that offers slow heat from chiles and garlic.
The result: An unfussy dish, sizzling in a cast-iron skillet and bright with some vinegar and a last-minute sprinkling of fresh herbs. This makes for an elegant easy midweek meal that comforts and nourishes. Serve with a green salad and buttered couscous or mashed potatoes. Leftovers go well into a chowder, a dip or stirred into scrambled eggs.
Slow-roasted hot sauce salmon with garlic and vinegar
Makes 4 servings
1 small carrot or parsnip, thinly sliced
1 Anaheim or poblano pepper, halved
4 to 5 radishes, halved
fine salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup good-quality extra virgin olive oil
2 to 3 teaspoons hot sauce paste, such as harissa or gochujang
1 to 2 large cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
1 (1-to-1.5-pound) fillet wild salmon, and preferably center-cut for even thickness, pinbones removed, if desired
1 tablespoon white wine or red wine vinegar
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh chopped dill (or parsley or cilantro)
lemon wedges, for serving (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Add vegetables to a 12-inch oven-proof skillet, preferably cast iron. Season lightly with salt and pepper and pour olive oil over. Roast vegetables 12 minutes or until mostly tender. Remove pan from oven. Important: Reduce temperature to 275 degrees. Add 2 teaspoons hot sauce paste to a small bowl. Remove about 1 tablespoon oil from pan and mix with the hot sauce until combined; add garlic slices. Add salmon to pan and season very lightly with salt (note that some chile pastes can be salty). Spoon hot sauce-garlic oil over salmon. Place pan back in oven and roast 15 minutes at 275 degrees. Baste salmon again with oil from pan and cook another 5 minutes or until cooked to desired doneness. Stir vinegar into oil. Top salmon with fresh dill and serve with vegetables and a few teaspoons of the seasoned vinegar-olive oil and lemon wedges, if desired.