Seafood, specifically fish, has always been the boogeyman to me. It smells, I can’t tell when it’s done cooking, and if there are any remnants of scales left to remind me that I’m eating a fish, I’m out.
So when my sister-in-law texted me a picture of my soon-to-be-one-year-old niece enjoying salmon for dinner, I knew I needed to pony up. It’s one thing for people who have known me my whole life to make fun of my diet, but I can’t have my niece taunting me too!
Not to be shown up by an infant, I did several laps around my grocery store until I found where the seafood is sold. One Google search later (“How to tell when salmon is cooked”), and I was ready to prove myself to a baby!
I decided to make this Sheet-Pan Sesame and Ginger Salmon from NYT Cooking, served with roasted broccoli and rice. I love soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and broccoli, so it was really just the salmon that I needed to worry about in this dish (I’ll admit, I also omitted the squeeze of lime juice because no amount of comments saying that “the dish needs acidity” will make me enjoy lime).
Having never cooked seafood of any kind before, I was excited by how quick it was to make the salmon—after applying the glaze, it went right in the oven for less than 12 minutes, and dinner was served. Definitely a pro for cooking salmon in my book (assuming, of course, that the taste doesn’t lead to lifelong trauma).
As another pre-taste bonus for this dinner, the finished product didn’t come out looking (or smelling) half bad.
So, after passing the sight and smell test, what was the verdict on the taste? Ate the whole thing! My face may not look ecstatic in this picture as I chewed my first bite, nervously nodding my head and willing my body to accept fish. But once I got over the faint smell and overall fishiness, I was pleasantly surprised by the soft, flaky texture.
Based on that texture and only mildly aquatic stench, I could definitely see myself eating this again. This particular recipe features a sesame oil and ginger-based sauce, which was great on the fish, but I’d be interested in testing my theory that pesto tastes good on anything by topping salmon with that next time.
But before I pat myself on the back too much, I need to admit that I fibbed a little when I said I ate the whole thing. I ate all the “meat” off the fish, but couldn’t bring myself to touch the skin. I’m sorry, I just couldn’t do it. Much how I stop eating my beloved buffalo wings when I get too close to the bone, reminding myself that I’m eating a body part, I needed to flick pieces of the skin off my fish before eating it. It was a disgusting purplish-gray and had the squishy, slimy texture that I expected the rest of the fish to have. I’ve heard people rave about crispy pan-fried salmon skin so I’ll consider trying that method sometime (maybe). I mean crispy skin sounds a lot more appealing than squishy skin, in terms of skin you plan on eating.
Really, though, are you more surprised that I wouldn’t touch the skin or that I actually ate the whole salmon fillet? I mean I strategically made enough rice to fill me up, assuming that I wouldn’t finish my main course, so I surpassed my own expectations.
If you want to see for yourself what all of the fishy fuss is about, get the recipe for tonight’s dinner here (and consider pan frying the skin or leaving it off completely if you love yourself), and let me know what you think! Got any other go-to salmon dishes for me now that it’s something I know how to cook and eat? Fire away in the comments below or on Instagram at @thepickyeaterchronicles! But leave your squishy skin-loving takes to yourself—there’s no place for those here.