Ginger maple glazed salmon with easy leeks in the Land of Oz

26 Feb

One of the very first movies I remember seeing as a kid was The Wizard of Oz. My parents recorded it from the TV onto a VHS cassette, so whenever we watched it we would have to fast forward through the commercials. This was always a risky endeavor. Whole foods or Emerald City?Those tapes were not really meant for fast forwarding or rewinding – every time we skipped ahead, we crossed our fingers that the tape inside didn’t get stuck, creating a storm of static on the screen, distorting Judy Garland’s voice into something like the munchkins she would meet later in the story, and forcing us to hit eject, pull out tangled tape, and manually wind the spools back to health.

The movie captivated me every time. I loved the fantasy of escaping the real world to a universe of bright color, catchy songs, and a surprise around every bend in the yellow brick road. I looked forward to the Emerald City itself, sparkling and gleaming in the distance, knowing that there were people scurrying around inside, scrubbing the floors, and preparing for our arrival (I of course joined Dorothy & co in my 8-year-old mind). Once inside the gates, I toured the palace, guided by greeters stationed helpfully along the way.Beautiful raw salmon

I now realize that The Wizard of Oz, and the way I felt while watching it, bear a peculiar resemblance to the way I prefer my retail experiences as an adult. Colorful sights, pleasant music, new exhibits at every turn, helpful staff to meet my every need – IKEA? Whole Foods?

I visited a Whole Foods this weekend, and I felt a flutter in my stomach as I rode the escalator down into the depths of the store (as only a New Yorker does to get to a supermarket), taking in the sights and sounds of the produce department. A wander around found me with a beautiful cut of wild Alaskan sockeye salmon and a bunch of leeks in my basket.

But, as usually happens, the experience was destined to be better in my mind than in reality. Within minutes and a few shopping cart traffic jams later, I was ready to go. The shopping experience, normally so enjoyable, had crossed the threshold into sensory overload: too many options, aisles crowded with whining children, a bag of dried lentils broken open and scattered across the floor, useless employees with no answers, and no exit in site. I felt a meltdown coming on, like my 8-year-old self appearing for an instant in this modern day Oz. All I could think to myself was “there’s no place like home,” especially when there’s ginger maple glazed salmon waiting to be eaten.


Ginger maple glazed salmon

Adapted from Gourmet


  • 2 lbs salmon fillet
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced

1. Combine maple syrup, lemon juice, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic in a small saucepan. Simmer until reduced to about 1 cup.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

3. Arrange fish on baking sheet, season with salt and pepper, brush with some of the glaze, and roast. (My rule of thumb is about 5 minutes for every half inch of salmon.)

4. Arrange salmon on plates and drizzle with rest of ginger maple glaze.

Easy leeks

This isn’t a recipe, but rather a discovery of how easy it is to take advantage of this beautiful but often forgotten giant scallion wannabee.

I chopped off the dark green upper leaves and hairy white roots of my leeks, and rinsed the remaining stalks under water to clean out any dirt or sand that was trapped inside. I then blanched the leeks for a few minutes, took them out of the boiling water, and ate them. That’s it!

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