Today’s dish holds a special place in my memories, even if it isn’t something my family ever made.
My family used to go on Caribbean cruises often, and I remember these trips fondly. The festive atmosphere kept the emotional abuse to a minimum, the sights and sounds kept it exciting, and the sun and water made sure this was the height of summer fun. The part of the experience I have always held dearest, though, was the fact that mobile phones were non-functional on the ocean, and the boat was enormous. It was a family vacation, but I could disappear whenever I wanted, for as long as I wanted, and they would never find me. As a young transfeminine egg still very slowly hatching, being able to sunbathe without onlookers was valuable to me; as an autistic woman with very particular ideas about how I spend my time, being able to duck out of public life to read, drink, or exercise was important…and all of that is to say nothing of late-night dance parties and evening-long one-time trysts. The cruise ship, a floating hotel of hedonistic delight, was a place where I was free both from the responsibilities that waited for me back home, and from the people against whom I had to constantly be on guard everywhere else.
There was one cruise in which I woke up uncharacteristically late and hungover after a long, fun night, and sauntered into the earliest part of the lunch shift in the ship’s dining hall. My family wasn’t around, and I was seated with a group of strangers. The conversation was amiable enough, but what I remember was my late breakfast: salmon almondine. After the first bite of this decadent French dish, I was determined to bring this totally new and unfamiliar experience into my mainstream.
It’s been years since then, and after several failed attempts, I’ve finally done it.
Salmon almondine is emphatically not Hispanic food. Almonds are found natively throughout the Mediterranean and grown in Spain, but are curiously not a common part of Latin American cooking, and the Atlantic salmon genus Salmo has no representatives in the Caribbean or Southern Hemisphere. So, this is a French treat that has not yet become common in or adapted to Latin American possibilities. More’s the pity—it’s wonderful.
My salmon almondine (amandine in French and non-American English) is presented here purely as a protein preparation. Serve with rice, carrots, or another carbohydrate of choice and a salad. The recipe presented here serves four.
You will need a broiler or similar source of intense top-down heat, an oven tray, a flat surface on which to work, two small mixing bowls, a whisk or fork for mixing, and a silicone or other soft brush for brushing sauce onto meat.
- Salmon fillets, skin on, 1 lb. The skin adds soft, creamy richness to the fish. Substitute other fish with a similar flavor profile, such as trout.
- Soy sauce, 1 tablespoon
- Honey, 2 teaspoons
- Smoked paprika, ½ teaspoon
- Salt, ½ teaspoon. Sea or kosher salt is best.
- Black pepper, ½ teaspoon
- Rosemary, ½ teaspoon
- Slivered almonds, ¼ cup
- Lemon slices, four
Common Food Restrictions
- Gluten-Free: For a gluten-free variation, substitute tamari sauce for soy sauce.
- Ketogenic / Low-Carb: This recipe contains no high-carbohydrate ingredients and is ideal for a low-carb diet. Choose accompaniments accordingly.
- Low-FODMAP: Substitute tamari sauce for soy sauce to remove gluten. Otherwise, this dish should be quite gentle on low-FODMAP eaters, since the use of soy is limited and all other ingredients are safe. Choose accompaniments accordingly.
- Vegetarian/Vegan: Fish is the centerpiece of this dish. Substitute an appropriate vegetable protein for the fish and a different sweetener for the honey.
- Preheat your broiler to its highest setting.
- Whisk together the soy sauce and honey in a mixing bowl and set aside.
- Mix the smoked paprika, salt, black pepper, and rosemary in a separate mixing bowl and set aside.
- Generously dust the fillets, skin-side down, with the dry spice mix from Step 3. Let sit for a few minutes to allow the spice mix to adhere to the wet surface of the fish.
- Brush the fillets with the honey/soy mixture until the mixture is spent.
- Generously and evenly cover the fillets with slivered almonds.
- Distribute lemon slices between the fillets, ideally one per fillet or evenly spaced on particularly large fillets. Place the slices on top of the almonds.
- Place fillets skin-down on well-greased oven tray uncovered and broil for 7-8 minutes, depending on thickness. Fillets thicker than approximately 1 inch should stay longer.
Every time I make this dish, I’m taken back to that sunny table aboard that carnival of discovery and freedom, surrounded by deepest blue, exactly as alone as I ever cared to be. May it become a similar vehicle of wonderful memories for you, dear readers.