How to Make Salmon Taste and Smell Delicious

What’s a naturopath to do when she gags at the thought of salmon?

4 years of studying naturopathy indelibly imprinted the seemingly endless health virtues of the humble fish fillet on my brain.  The only problem was I had never been introduced to a piece of fish that was not battered and deep fried that didn’t make me gag.

I outed my loathing of all edible aquatic life forms in a class only to be scorned like cream-bun on the Biggest Loser.  How could a naturopath not love fish?

A fellow mature age student, Amanda, sidled up to me one day and furtively whispered the words that changed my life….. “my fussy five year old will eat salmon if I put it in baking paper, drown it in soy sauce, poke a garlic clove in it and then wrap it up like a birthday present.” 

Challenge accepted!

I dropped past Aldi on the way home and before you judge my economical shopping choice, after years of projectile vomiting from even the smell of cooking fish I was not prepared to invest serious $ into the wild caught variety for an experiment with so little chance of success.

My first ever attempt to eat salmon I cooked. So momentus the occasion I recorded it for posterity, well actually, for the paramedics if they needed to confirm my last meal.

I laid the fish on some baking paper, sprinkled the slippery sucker liberally with Tamari (wheat free soy sauce), crushed a garlic clove with the side of my knife as taught by my Nonna, poked small pieces of garlic along the length of the fillet and then wrapped the baking paper up like a parcel-the-parcel. No more than 2 minutes in preparation!

10 (no-fishy-smell-at-all) minutes later I opened the now browned paper, gingerly tasted a teeny-tiny morsel, and cue angels singing, it was d.e.l.i.o.u.s. 

Yep you got that right, not only was it edible, it was scrumptious….. ahhhhhh…..this must be what golfers’ experience with a hole-in-one.

Even better no preparation mess, no cooking dishes to clean -just throw the paper in the bin.

What is even more interesting is my former “if it is not from a cow or a pig it’s not food” husband and I have started to become more adventurous with fish discovering a genuine love for the delicate flavour. In fact on the stove now is a fish curry of sorts bubbling away ready for my dinner. 

It seems my journey-with-fish was how naturopaths describe introducing broccoli to a 3 year old – you’ve just gotta keep trying no matter how many times they throw it on the ceiling. 

I’ve gotta share with you, for the sake of total honesty, I still very rarely order fish when eat out because if it is not perfectly fresh I do vomit just a little in my mouth.

So what’s my recipe?  Well I challenge you to cook fish this week the way I first learnt it and hopefully everyone in your family will love it as much as mine.

Salmon En Papillote

Salmon En Papillote or ‘salmon cooked in paper’ for those of us who don’t speak french.

Per Person

1 fish fillet (try a strong tasting fish like salmon to truly appreciate how good at masking flavour this recipe is),

A good dousing of tamari/soy sauce

1 garlic clove

1 knob ginger (optional)

1/2 lemon

splosh of extra virgin olive oil.


•          Lay a large piece of baking paper (I used Glad Bake here) on your kitchen bench (not alfoil, not a chicken roasting bag, it must be baking paper).

•          Place your salmon fillet in the middle.

•          Check there are no pesky bones poking out and if you find one pull that sucker out.  If you are a MasterChef fan of course you will have the kitchen-tweezers at the ready.

•          Slice small nicks and cuts along the meaty body of the salmon.

•          Take at least 1 garlic clove and squash it under the side of your knife, peal off the skin and throw the skin away and slice the smelly clove roughly.

•          (If you have ginger, take a thumb-sized nob of ginger and slice roughly.)

•          Stuff bits of ginger and garlic into those nicks you previously made.

•          Douse the fish roughly 2 tbspns in tamari (wheat-free soy sauce) or soy sauce (for those of you still blithely eating wheat – no judgement).

•          Hold up the 2 ends of the paper nestling little-fishy in the middle still on the bench.

•          Gradually fold/roll the two ends together down so you create a tightly wrapped parcel.

•          Fold/roll the sticky-out ends in towards the fish and then finish with the other side.

•          Pop your carefully rolled parcel in a warmed oven on approx 180C/medium for approx 10-12 minutes.

•          While that’s in the oven why not multi-task! Put a saucepan of water on to boil and chop up a sweet potato into small bits and place in salted boiling water.  On top of the boiling water add a steaming basket and cook your favourite green veggies.

•          When you take the fish out of the oven be careful opening the parcel as steam will flood out.  If you are serving this to bubbas pull out the bits of garlic and ginger.  Those pieces have really done their job in infusing flavour in to the flesh and can now be discarded that is thrown in the bin - do not eat them unless worried about vampires later that night.

•          Drain your veggies and mash your sweet potato.  I don’t cook with dairy ‘cause otherwise I snore like a rhinoceros so I add extra virgin olive oil to transform my mash to creamy goodness. You use whatever fat suits your body - oil, butter, ghee, cream.

•          Pop the fragrant morsel of fish on your mashed sweet potato and add your veggies on your plate. I always top my vegies with a teaspoon or so of raw extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.  Lemon on any food but especially vegetables helps make the iron content more absorbable – so important for women struggling with fatigue.

•          Or if you want to serve this the fancy-smancy french restaurant way keep the parcel closed and take it to the table on the plate. Diners do feel very compelled to utter exclamations of wonder when they open their own parcel – always good for the chef’s ego.

So why spend so much time talking about a recipe which I am sure for the average home cook sounds incredibly simple and basic?

Most people I see in my clinic don’t eat fish at all let alone regularly enough to get the endless inflammation lowering and mood boosting benefits of fish (that has not been deep fried). 

When I delve into why they don’t eat fish inevitably they either don’t know how to cook it or there is a family member who threatens to stage a full scale riot if a piece of smelly fish is cooked in the house.

For me it is very sad to hear a whole family is missing out of all the goodness of fish because of previous bad experiences.

Fish has strong evidence behind it as being not only good for your heart, but also in fighting mild to moderate depression, inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and the list goes on. All up this simple meal provides:

•          heart loving omega 3’s in the salmon and monounsaturated fats in the extra virgin olive oil

•          bowel loving and tummy filling fibre and nutrients in the veggies

•          dense in protein and healthy fats means it keeps you feeling full longer. 

In fact I dare and double-dare you to reach for a chocolate when you are on the couch critiquing the efforts of those handsome boys on My Kitchen Rules after this meal.

Now on to a more serious matter…talking about MKR I don’t think the blonde dude looks at all like his cousin Thor, do you?  Maybe if he took his shirt off?

For more heart healthy recipes check out these babies on the Heart Foundation’s site.  They even provide videos for step by step instruction.

I’d love to swap a heart healthy recipe with you if you have a fail-safe fish dish? 

In health,

Sonia x

Sonia McNaughton