Genève’s Kitchen

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Teach A Girl To Fish

April 16th, 2006 · 2 Comments

I didn’t always know how to cook. I would bake occasionally but cooking “real food” always seemed daunting to me until my second year of school at McGill when my roommate Grace and I began to cook together. We both loved food and we both loved spending time in the kitchen (although most of that time was spent talking over cups of tea and recounting previous nights activities). Our friend Maggey who lived down the hall from us was quite an inspiration too – how many friends did you have in University who on any given night would prepare such things as a pot roast or a chocolate fire cake?

One of the first recipes I learned by heart was for lemon dill salmon. My Swiss aunt, Ursula, taught me this recipe. It is a super easy dish and it offers a lot of versatility. One of the things that I really liked about this dish, being an amateur in the kitchen, was that I was able to learn the basic method of how to prepare a dish while also being able to experiment and improvise with different seasonings.

For those of you out there who are novices in the kitchen I find that fish in general is a great place to start. Fish cooks very quickly and most kinds of fish lend themselves to lots of different flavors to match almost anyone’s tastes. Fish can also be prepared using many different cooking methods.

Before I share this simple fish recipe I just want to add a word on ordering fish at the market. If you have a go-to place where you like to do your grocery shopping don’t be shy about getting to know the butcher, fish person, etc. These people usually know their stuff and I’ve learned a lot of random yet useful information ranging from how to tell if tilapia is fresh just by looking at it or the best way to store mussels in my refrigerator until I’m ready to use them. Also, be sure to ask what days they get their deliveries – that way you’ll be getting the freshest fare.

Another point I want to make as well which may be obvious to some but not myself when I started to cook is what quantities of fish, meat, etc. to buy. It took me awhile to learn how to respond to the fish person at the store when they’d ask me how much fish I wanted. I would just show an amount using my hands and say “about this much”. I typically order a quarter of a pound per person and find this is the perfect portion. If you think that doesn’t look like enough when ordering though just get more. Hopefully if you’re totally in the dark about this kind of thing that will serve as a benchmark.

So about that recipe that I was going to share with you:

Lemon and Dill Salmon

Salmon fillets (figure approx. 1/4 lbs. per person)

Dried or fresh dill (either works well here, a handful of fresh or several tablespoons of dried)

1 lemon


Pepper (freshly cracked is best)

1) Preheat oven to 425F

2) Lay out a piece of aluminum foil large enough for the salmon fillet (if making several fillets wrap individually) and place salmon in the middle

3) Sprinkle a pinch of salt over top, add a generous sprinkle of pepper over the entire fillet then sprinkle the dill over the top very generously so that the fish is covered in it

4) Slice the lemon cross-wise so that you have round discs of lemon to cover the salmon

5) Now collect the farthest ends of aluminum and wrap together, then wrap the edges too so that no juices will escape

6) Place on baking sheet and put in the oven for 25 minutes

7) Be careful when opening the little package because the steam will be very hot – I like to use a fork and knife to open the package

You’ll know the fish is ready if you are able to insert the fork into the fish and it goes all the way through easily, also it will flake easily and won’t look raw in the middle. The fish will also easily separate from the skin.

Serve with a fresh lemon wedge.

This cooking method opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me – it works great with cod, along with many other varieties of fish and endless combinations of flavors…

Tags: Entree · Fish

2 responses so far ↓

  • Laura // May 3, 2006 at 10:01 am

    This dish was delicious, and gets extra points for being healthy and a cinch to clean up. Just toss the foil and your are done! A great dish to have in your back pocket.

  • Sherri // Jun 18, 2006 at 5:20 pm

    Go Aunt Ursula. I made this tonight !
    It was so easy,healthy and also uses all pantry staples.
    It looked beautiful with corn on the cob and tasted very summery, perfect for a 90 degree day !
    The husband was impressed.