• Jim Hoehn

Garlic and Brown Sugar Salmon

Shrimp Mold, Anyone?

Growing up with a Catholic mother from New England meant that we always ate fish on Fridays but also regularly throughout the week. Fillets of cod or haddock were very affordable back then for a family of six, nothing like it is today. The grill was only fired up on the weekends for burgers and hotdogs, so fish was usually cooked in the oven and it was always fantastic. But we also experienced some of the less-than-delicious food trends of the 50s and 60s, like clam dip, tuna noodle casserole or the occasional shrimp mold. We were glad those trends did not continue.

Fish Cooks Fast

It wasn’t until later in life that I wanted to recapture the wonderful flavors of simply cooking a piece of fish. I’ve gotten better and better over the years and learned that if you keep trying with friendly fish, you can really surprise yourself and your family.

By friendly I mean start out with flaky fillets (salmon, tilapia, flounder) instead of jumping right into sole meunière. Also, talk to the person behind the fish counter to discover what’s very fresh that day but also how to cook it. These people are a wealth of information. The best lessons I’ve learned are: fish cooks fast and keep the ingredients simple.

Garlic and Brown Sugar Salmon

Below is a recipe for salmon that is superb. The original came from the folks at V. Sattui Winery in Napa Valley, California, but I have modified it over the years. I encourage you to do the same. Enjoy!


  • 4 (6 oz each) salmon fillets

  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar or 1 tablespoon real maple syrup

  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme

  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or cayenne

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 lemon

  • Fresh parsley, chopped

  • 1 bunch asparagus

Rub the salmon with minced garlic and arrange fillets on half of a baking sheet. Rinse and trim ends of asparagus spears. Arrange on other half of the baking sheet. In a mixing bowl, add melted butter, brown sugar, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Whisk together until sugar is dissolved. Pour mixture over salmon and asparagus. Squeeze half of lemon over entire baking sheet then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. When fish flakes with fork, broil for one additional minute.

Garnish with parsley, serve with lemon slices.

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