She has a point, I thought, but she doesn’t understand what’s in sunny California: lemons. Big, shiny, juicy, fabulous lemons. Meaty, fragrant, unsprayed suckers growing like weeds in everyone’s backyard.
Oh, and I guess my new godson is in California too
Living on the East Coast, we get wonderful apples, but zero good citrus. Limes from Chile arrive bright green on the outside, and dry as popcorn on the inside. Lemons smell vaguely like styrofoam and are mouth-puckeringly tart — not in a good way. Even the Meyer lemons we get are a little overripe and slightly smushy.
So was I going to miss out on my golden (state) opportunity to bring back some excellent fruit? No way!
Thankfully, my best friend and her warm, welcoming family were more happy to accommodate. Her parents raided her uncle’s lemon trees and came out with a great big bag of fat fruit. Hooray! I must have been quite the sight at the baptism running around with a fresh lemon stuck under my nose.
And as I was packing to head back to the frigid northeast, my friend’s mother palmed a handful of super tiny, but ultra-perfumed orbs into my hand.
Calamondin, or calamansi, are used a lot in Filipino cooking. I wasn’t sure what to do with them, but I certainly was not about to let that stop me from finding out!
This recipe is from a terrific cooking blog called Coconut & Lime. Instead of wrapping the salmon in aluminum foil, I opted for my preferred parchment paper. Salmon en papillote, southeast Asian-style.
I’m also testing out a brand new camera!
2 individual portions of center-cut salmon, bones and skin removed
1 small onion or shallot, very thinly sliced
1 small ripe mango, cut into thin strips
1-2 small Bird’s Eye Chiles, thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons of coconut vinegar
The juice from a handful of calamansi oranges
Salt to taste
How to prepare:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
2. Place the salmon portions in the center of a large sheet of parchment paper. Arrange the sliced onions evenly on top of the salmon, followed by the mango slices, and finally the sliced chiles. Sprinkle the salmon with the coconut vinegar and the calamansi juice. Drizzle olive oil over everything. Season with a shower of kosher salt to taste.
3. Pull the edges of the parchment paper up lengthwise. Roll the edges down together, making several folds as you go along. The paper should be snug against the salmon, but not too tight. Twist, or tie with butcher’s twine, the ends of each side so that you end up with a nice, neat packet.
4. Place the packet on your baking sheet seam-side up. Bake the salmon for 20 minutes. The fish should be fully cooked. When opening the packet, be careful to not burn yourself with the steam. Serve with steamed white rice.