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
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
- Whisk together all marinade ingredients. Pat salmon fillets dry with paper towels. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
- 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.
- Preheat oven to 350F, with oven rack in center position. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
- 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.
- Arrange fillets on plates with desired sides and sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds. Serve at once.