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How to Bake Wild Salmon

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Lean fillets of wild Alaskan Pacific salmon turn tender and rich with Ali Slagle’s ingenious recipe.

I’ve written a lot about salmon farming for The New York Times in recent years, and what I’ve learned about salmon’s sustainability has persuaded me to use wild Pacific salmon from Alaska whenever possible. I buy it frozen in individual vacuum-sealed portions and stash it in the freezer. Submerged in a bowl of warm water, the slim fillets defrost in about 15 minutes and cook even faster. It makes a deluxe last-minute meal when the cupboard seems bare.

Lately, my go-to cooking method has been slathering the pink fillets with a mix of mayo and sriracha (sometimes mixed with grated lime zest if I’m feeling energetic), and then broiling. But I’m going to try Ali Slagle’s new recipe for baked wild salmon the next time I hear that salmon siren song. Her technique calls for brining the fillets for 15 to 30 minutes before baking them at a very low heat. This keeps the lean flesh from drying out, giving you moist, rich fish with a deep saline character. Serve it with a punchy sauce on the side (garlicky yogurt, chili crisp, aioli) for a simple and very satisfying meal.

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I also choose frozen wild Gulf shrimp over farmed when I can get it, for similar reasons. It lives next to the salmon in the icy ocean of my freezer, at the ready for a quick midweek meal like Dan Pelosi’s linguine with zucchini, corn and shrimp. The key to his recipe is to barely cook the vegetables, which stay intact and firm, adding texture along with their inherent summery sweetness.

On the other end of the vegetable texture spectrum, the blistered tomatoes and red onions in Yasmin Fahr’s sheet-pan garlicky chicken singe at the edges and get silky soft as they collapse under the broiler’s blazing heat. To keep the chicken from drying out, Yasmin smartly coats it in an herby, lemony yogurt, some of which is saved to serve as a sauce on the side. It’s visually stunning too, especially if you use a mix of tomato varieties.

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