spicy salmon, potatoes with lovage, red cabbage, cress


filet after being rubbed with the sugar and spices, before it was refrigerated


Thinking of the arguable thesis that an artist’s best work may often arise from working with constraints, I will make the modest proposal that the same thing can work for the creative output of an ordinary cook.

I was unable to get to the Greenmarket on Monday to pick up some fish, so we enjoyed a pasta that night. The next day, not wanting to cook meat or another pasta, I decided to check out the wild salmon selection at Whole Foods. I would have to cook it on the top of the stove, since our oven is ailing, but I knew that was unlikely to present much of a problem, especially since I had just come across a very interesting Melissa Clark recipe which described pan-grilling the fish after it had rested in a spicy brown-sugar marinade. The salmon was not on sale, as it often is, but the wild Coho filets were being offered at what I would call a pretty reasonable price.

I still had a small amount of the red cabbage we had been enjoying for a week or so, and there was a generous amount of upland cress in the crisper waiting to be summoned to embellish a worthy plate.

Finally, still worried that what I had in mind wouldn’t quite add up to a complete meal, I decided to boil a very few potatoes as a foil for the other flavors I had gathered. Because of my introducing the potatoes, the excellent small Balthazar rye boule, which I had bought that day to fill out what I had earlier anticipated would be a pretty sparse course, stayed in the breadbox instead.

The meal turned out to be far more satisfying than I had hoped it might be.

If it had a geographic character, I would say that it lay somewhere between the German-speaking lands of Central Europe and the Pacific Northwest of the North American continent. Maybe New York City.


  • one section of a Coho salmon filet (13.2 oz) from Whole Foods, marinated for about 6 hours in a mix of turbinado sugar, sea salt, freshly ground tellicherry pepper, freshly ground allspice, freshly ground nutmeg in lieu of the mace Clark had specified (the only mace in the kitchen had already been ground, probably over 30 yearsa ago, and had sat inside an antique tin container ever since, through 2 removes from since its purchase in Rhode Island), and the zest of half of an organic lemon from Whole Foods
  • red cabbage remaining from being prepared earlier 5 days before for an earlier meal and one one which had succeeded it
  • upland cress from Alewife Farm, dressed with some good Umbrian olive oil, a little white balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper
  • four sweet Norland red potatoes from Lucky Dog Organic Farm, scrubbed and boiled unpeeled, then halved, tossed with sweet butter, salt, pepper, and chopped lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge
  • the wine was an Oregon (Willamette) red, Argyle Pinot Noir 2013
  • the music was Kalevi Aho’s Symphony No. 8, and his ‘Pergamon’, the Lahti Symphony Orchestra conducted by Osmo Vänskä, Hans-Ola Ericsson, organ