Fishy Friday

Grandpa and his brother, on their boat. That's Grandpa, in the hat.

My grandfather was many things.  He was an engineer.  He was a wine merchant.  He was extremely intelligent and well-read. He was an outspoken man.  He did not put up with nonsense.  But above all else, he was a man who loved to fish.  All over our house we have fishing poles that once belonged to him.  For a long time he had a boat and would try to get us to go fishing with him.  We didn’t often go- who, at age 13, wants to get up at 4am in order to spend time sitting on a small boat in the water, doing nothing?  When we did go, we’d catch skates (which skeeved me out beyond all reason, not sure why). But usually not fish. He used to tell a joke, something about having a good day fishing versus a great day fishing- a great day is when you actually catch something.

However, being an avid fisherman meant that my grandfather also loved to consume fish and other seafood.  So my grandmother had umpteen recipes and ways of preparing it. She also had a pretty close relationship with her fishmonger- lots of the recipes she has are from him.  Family tradition when anyone came home- aunts, uncles, cousins, friends- was to have lobster.  Sometimes she’d make a token effort to make corn or salad but generally people came for the lobster.  Just boiled with some melted butter- nothing fancy.  But no one, absolutely NO ONE can eat lobster like my family can.  When my mom and uncles are done, there is nothing left on the lobster.  Nada.  This is (I’m told) because Grandpa used to bring home the lobster bodies, bought for cheap at the docks. I’m just saying, when it comes to seafood, especially lobster, my family is on it.

Figures then, that fate would have me marry a man who doesn’t eat seafood.  He’s the only one in his family that doesn’t like it.  The rest of his family could match mine for love of lobster, clams and all things fishy.  But him?  Nope.  Over the years I’ve coaxed him to try different things and now he’ll tolerate lobster, if he has to (can you imagine?!?!  Most often, I just eat his and he’s stuck with chicken or steak.) and will actively eat seared tuna sliced very thinly or raw oysters (eaten, I think because it is one of the few things I will not eat and he can show me up by slurping them down.  Yick.).

All this to say, if I’m going to make fish, it generally has to be on a Friday, when he’s working.  I find it ironic that he’s Catholic and I’m Jewish and isn’t there some sort of Catholic thing about fish on Fridays?  See?  I’m following it, even if he isn’t.

Grandma’s Salmon


2 Tablespoons soy sauce

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon sugar

pepper (no salt- the soy is salty enough)

1 salmon filet


Combine all marinate ingredients and pour over salmon.  I put the salmon in the same dish I was going to bake it in, so that I’d have less to wash.  I also used two salmon filets, doubling the recipe for the marinade.  Grandma says to marinate this for at least a half an hour.  I think I left mine for about an hour, turning them once or twice. I also used frozen salmon filets (can you hear that?  It’s my grandfather rolling over in his grave.) but they were pretty good.

Preheat the oven to about 375.  Pour out the marinade before you put the dish in the oven.  Or, alternately, place the salmon in a cooking dish and discard the marinade.  Bake until the salmon is cooked– it should be somewhat opaque and pink but not bright pink or dull pink.  Sort of…. salmon pink.  Ok, I know that was no help at all.  Click here for information on how to cook fish (I ended up looking it up in one of my grandmother’s cookbooks, The Encylopedia of Fish Cookery). I think I ended up overcooking it but it was still pretty good.

I served it with leftover squash risotto (recipe for that in some coming posts- it’s a good fall meal) and sautéed spinach with garlic.  Very yummy and kind of elegant for something thrown together so quickly!

2 thoughts on “Fishy Friday

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