Simple Citrus-Soy Baked Salmon

My husband and I have a regular game we like to play, and it usually starts about 2 pm when I text to ask whether he has any particular cravings for that evening’s dinner. And then I cross my fingers in hope that he doesn’t give me the dreaded response.

“Something simple,” he’ll frequently say. 

And then I really don’t know what to feed him, because what does that even mean? My experimentation in the kitchen more often leads me into complex outcomes rather than simple ones. I would rather he ask for soup and salad or grilled cheese or takeout than the nebulous “something simple.” I don’t know why this throws me for a loop, but I usually stand befuddled, the same as when I ask him what Friday night cocktail he wants, and he says, “surprise me.”

I’m trying to get better about this, and occasionally I find inspiration amid the ingredients I already have in the fridge. And that’s what happened with this vibrant dish that turned out to be simple not only in ingredients but also preparation.

What makes this recipe simple is that the marinade— which ultimately becomes a glaze in the oven— is made from common ingredients that I found in the refrigerator: freshly squeezed orange juice (thanks to a navel I forgot was in there), a bit of marmalade, horseradish, soy sauce and honey. To add a little extra something without extra effort, I decided to add a spoonful of dried onion to the marinade. The bits plumped up quite a bit during the 45 minutes the salmon soaked in its flavor bath, and it added onion flavor without the bite of fresh onions.

I’m struggling to find something else to explain about this dish, but that’s honestly it. Mix the marinade, soak it and then bake it. The oven takes care of the rest, turning the marinade into a somewhat sticky glaze that pairs well with just about anything. The flavors of the marinade do a balancing act between sweet, savory and salty. I served our salmon on a bed of basmati rice (leftovers from Indian takeout), with a sprinkling of sliced scallions and sesame seeds, plus a fresh and pretty side salad.

Hubby was right, as usual— simple is good!

Easy Citrus-Soy Baked Salmon

  • Servings: 2 or 4, depending on weight of salmon
  • Difficulty: So easy!
  • Print

From the prep to the ingredients to the cooking, everything about this dish is simple but the flavors are fantastic! The marinade is enough for a pound of fresh salmon, but please use the same amount even for a lesser weight of fish.


  • Up to 1 pound fresh salmon fillets, skin removed
  • Juice and zest of navel orange
  • 1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce (or tamari for gluten free)
  • 2 Tbsp. orange marmalade
  • 2 tsp. horseradish
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. minced, dried onion
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Cooked rice, for serving
  • 2 scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced
  • Sesame seeds for serving

I removed the skin from our salmon before cooking, but this really was not necessary; it was just me trying to make it “not simple.” After baking, the fillets will easily pull away from the skin, so it’s cook’s choice.


  1. Whisk together all marinade ingredients. Pat salmon fillets dry with paper towels. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
  2. Pour marinade into a shallow dish that is large enough to hold the salmon fillets. Add salmon, turning a few times to ensure even coverage. If preferred, marinate in a plastic zip-top bag for easy turning. Allow salmon to marinate at least 30 minutes, or up to 45 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F, with oven rack in center position. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  4. Transfer salmon fillets to parchment, spooning the marinade (especially marmalade peels and onions) over the top of the fish. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, depending on thickness of salmon and preference for doneness.
  5. Arrange fillets on plates with desired sides and sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds. Serve at once.

Long Live the King! (a bourbon cocktail)

This is my version of a cocktail my husband and I enjoyed during our recent whirlwind tour through the tri-state area of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. At the end of the first full day of our road trip, we stopped for a live music show at Hailey’s Harp & Pub in Metuchen, N.J., and the cocktail menu called this drink “Long Live the King!”

We had not intended to order quite so many rounds of drinks that night (we had four apiece over five hours), but it was an easy way to spend the extra time we had, given that we arrived way early for the performance by our musical pals, Glenn and Oria of Blue Americana. These are the friends who ushered us through the chaos of COVID with their weekly “Quarantunes” concerts on Facebook Live, and the honorees of my Tequila & Lime Pie post back in the spring. We thought our 5:30 pm arrival at the pub would be just right, allowing us time to have a drink and a bite to eat before the show. Except for one thing—because it was a rainy, miserable night, what was supposed to be an outdoor 7 pm show was changed to indoors at 8 pm! So we got cozy at a table right in front, and just stayed and enjoyed. The food was delicious, the drinks were great and the company was delightful.

Blue Americana with Glenn and Oria!
We finally met them in person!

Les and I played the role of geeked-out groupies and Glenn and Oria played along—they signed our CDs and even posed with us for a picture. It was such fun meeting them in person after so many months of rocking out with them (virtually) on Friday nights during Quarantunes. And as was true for so many of the adventures we experienced on that end-of-summer vacation, I found something tasty to bring home and enjoy later. With only twelve days left to decide on a Thanksgiving signature cocktail, I’d say this one is a strong contender. It delivers the warmth of bourbon, the freshness of citrus and just a hint of sweetness.

Long Live the King!

I have not been able to figure out a good reason for the name given to this drink by Hailey’s Harp & Pub. It’s made with Bulleit bourbon, red vermouth, blood orange liqueur, orange bitters and a lemon peel garnish. It’s a smashing combination—almost a perfect meet-in-the-middle between a Manhattan and an Old Fashioned—but also reminiscent of a Boulevardier without the bitterness of Campari. If I had to give it a name myself, I would call it “One Night in Metuchen,” because I will always remember that fun evening whenever I make it.

Most of the ingredients are easy to find, and I’d encourage you to seek out the Solerno blood orange liqueur. Solerno has a brighter, slightly sweeter flavor than other orange liqueurs, and it is a very nice accompaniment to the bourbon and sweet vermouth. If you cannot find Solerno, I would recommend substituting Cointreau rather than Grand Marnier, which has strong cognac undertones. You want the citrus to shine in this drink.



It’s not quite an Old Fashioned, not quite a Manhattan, and just shy of a Boulevardier.

1.5 oz. Bulleit bourbon
1.0 oz. red (sweet) vermouth
0.5 oz. Solerno blood orange liqueur
2 quick shakes orange bitters
Lemon peel garnish


Combine bourbon, vermouth, blood orange liqueur and bitters in a cocktail mixing glass or shaker. Add about one cup of ice and shake or stir vigorously until the outside of the shaker is frosty. Strain over a large ice cube into a double rocks glass. Express the lemon peel over the top of the glass, swipe it around the rim of the glass and drop it into the drink to garnish.

If you prefer, you can strain the cocktail into a chilled coupe glass and garnish the same. That’s the beauty of this drink—it can be served on the rocks or up, depending on how fancy you’re feeling.

I used the spent ice from the rocks version of the drink to chill the coupe glass for the “up” version.

One recipe, but two ways to serve it!

Citrus & Fennel Salad with Olives

It isn’t surprising that I would find another way to highlight a food that is among the “seven species of Israel,” after the lessons I learned earlier this week in an online celebration of Tu Bishvat. The history and symbolism of Jewish food fascinates me, and it’s something that isn’t prevalent across all cultures. Though I’m not Jewish, my husband is, and I’m pleased that we each appreciate traditions from the other side. In our home, we observe Passover and Rosh Hashanah, Easter and Christmas. I’ve attended temple with him, and he’s been to church with me. Over the past year, we’ve joked many times about having been “to church” online more regularly than ever before in person. It’s my not-so-secret hope that houses of worship will continue what they’ve started with online availability, even after the COVID fog lifts and the doors re-open. There’s huge potential for new outreach by these virtual means.

Until that time, I’m taking the lessons however they come, and the online “new year of the trees” celebration, honoring the many blessings of trees and nature, paid particular homage to wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranate, olives and dates—the aforementioned “seven species.” So I’m going with it.

Citrus fruit is very common in northern African cuisine, and it pairs really well with the savory flavors in this recipe.

Several years ago, I picked up this cookbook on a bargain table at TJ Maxx, one of my favorite places to find interesting culinary treasures and gadgets. I have been enthralled with the beautiful images of foods authentic to Morocco, and I’ve noticed many crossover ingredients to the foods of Jewish culture—it makes sense, geographically. Today’s recipe comes from page 16 of that book: a grapefruit and fennel salad, described by the author as a “lovely hot weather salad,” though I’m finding it a bright and refreshing addition to the table right here in the middle of winter. I’ve modified a few things from that recipe, as I always do. I believe this is how we discover new favorites.

The salad brings plenty of color to the table, and I can taste the sunshine in the beautiful winter citrus! I’ve used ruby red grapefruit, which leans sweeter than pink or white, in combination with navel and blood oranges for additional sweetness and color variety, plus licorice-y fennel slices and castelvetrano olives. If your supermarket has a bulk olive bar, this olive variety is easy to spot because it is bright green like Kermit the Frog. The flavor is buttery and creamy, almost akin to artichoke heart, and I love the slightly briny contrast it provides against the juicy citrus and crunchy fennel.


1 ruby red grapefruit*

1 navel orange

1 blood orange

Kosher salt

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 bulb fresh fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced

2 or 3 scallions (green onions), thinly sliced

1 tsp. cumin, caraway or fennel seed

Small handful of castelvetrano olives,* pitted (see notes)


Ruby red grapefruit is not as tart as pink or white grapefruit. If you cannot eat grapefruit, try using an extra orange plus a Meyer lemon in its place. You would still have a variety of citrus flavors and colors.

The castelvetrano olives really do stand out, colorwise, on the olive bar. If your market does not offer these, you may also look for the variety in jars. Substitute Kalamata olives from Greece as a good alternative. I would not recommend regular pimiento-stuffed olives or canned “ripe” olives for this recipe. Purchase pitted olives if you can, or carefully cut them in half to remove the pit before adding them to the salad.


  1. To prepare the grapefruit, cut it in half crosswise, as you would enjoy it for breakfast. Next, use the tip of a sharp paring knife to cut the segments from the membranes. Do this for each half, then spoon them out into a bowl. Squeeze remaining grapefruit juice over a strainer into a bowl and reserve for another use.
  2. To prepare the oranges, cut off the tops and bottoms so the fruit is stable on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to carefully cut from top to bottom, removing the peel and bitter outer pith from the fruit. Cut the oranges in half, top to bottom, then lay them flat side-down on the cutting board. Slice the oranges into half-rounds, about 1/2” thick. Some may split, and that’s OK. Add the pieces to the grapefruit bowl, and give it a pinch or two of kosher salt.
  3. In a small, dry skillet, toast the cumin (or caraway or fennel) seed over medium heat, swirling the pan continuously. After about one minute, the seeds to be toasty and aromatic. Remove from heat and allow them to cool.
  4. Scatter the sliced fennel and olives into the citrus bowl, drizzle with olive oil and toss gently to coat. Transfer to a serving bowl.
  5. Sprinkle the scallion slices over the salad, then sprinkle with the toasted seeds and serve immediately.
If you want to go crazy and add pomegranate arils, too…well, maybe that wouldn’t be so crazy. 🙂
Keep those recipes evolving, dear friends!

Want to print this recipe?