This is the time of year when, despite occasional spring snowstorms, Alaskans start getting excited about the promise of a new season, running headlong toward longer, sun-drenched days. I see signs everywhere: A friend of mine is learning to build a chicken coop for her backyard while other friends are thrilled about the recent opening of commercial halibut and black cod season. My neighbors are readying their grills as we plan a farewell-to-the-snow block party. And I'm making a wish list of flowers and herbs to plant for grilling season, with basil, mint, and lemon verbena as top choices; I can already taste mint mojitos and basil-laden pesto salads.
I've also learned that now is a good time to pry any of last season's fish out of the freezer and cook it up before the new run starts.
This quick and easy recipe for salmon, adapted from my friend, Jennifer McGovern, calls for tamari as a first choice over soy sauce, which would work as well. Both soy sauce and tamari are made from fermented soybean. However, tamari is made with no or little wheat and has a greater concentration of soybean, so the flavor is richer, thicker, and not as salty as soy sauce. Together with ginger, garlic, sesame, and cilantro, it makes a winning combination for last year's or this year's catch. Just add some steamed rice or a green salad, and a glass of chilled rosé to complete this summer-is-coming meal.
Soy-Glazed Salmon with Ginger and Cilantro
1. Remove pin bones from salmon, if desired, using needle-nosed pliers or a pair of tweezers. Place salmon in a shallow glass (or other non-reactive) baking dish.
2. Place green onion and remaining ingredients (except herbs for garnish) in a blender or food processor and pulse or blend just to combine.
3. Pour 3/4 of the marinade over the salmon and cover with plastic wrap. Reserve 1/4 of the marinade for basting when cooking the salmon. Let salmon marinate in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.
4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove salmon from refrigerator at least 10 minutes before cooking if using the same baking dish in which it is marinating. Alternatively, place marinated salmon on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes depending on thickness, basting with reserved marinade after 4 minutes.
Serve salmon with fresh chopped cilantro and steamed rice or sautéed vegetables. Any leftovers help make a great salad the next day.
Other ways to dress up salmon, halibut, and cod:
Poached Halibut in Thai Coconut Curry Broth from Alaska from Scratch
Gluten-Free Fish Ceviche from Allergy Free Alaska
Salmon Kleftiko from Laurie Constantino
Hank Shaw's Classic Fish and Chips
Kim Sunée ate and lived in Europe for 10 years before working as a food editor for Southern Living magazine and Cottage Living magazine. Her writing has appeared in Food & Wine, The Oxford American and Asian American Poetry and Writing. Sunée has appeared several times as a guest judge on the Food Network's "Iron Chef America." She is currently based in Anchorage and working on a cookbook, "A Mouthful of Stars," to be published by Andrews McMeel in 2014. For more food and travel, visit www.kimsunee.com.