Sunday, April 21, 2013

citrus cilantro salmon with mango salsa


Teaching in a high school with an enrollment of over 4,000 can sometimes mean that I rarely bump into former students once they leave my classroom for the summer.  This was the case with a student I ran into last week, and I was very happy to get to chat with a young man who is a model of both academic and emotional intelligence (off to Princeton next fall...a real dummy).  Anyways, its always nice to bump into these now-seniors because its a totally different conversational dynamic - I mean, he really earnestly asked how I was doing and what was new in my life.  We had become two adults talking.  So I told him: "Oh, I started a food blog." He responded approvingly, "That's so city.  I mean, its urban-y." 

I just got a real kick out of that response.  I don't tell my students much at all, if anything, about my personal life, but many know that I've been blogging about something.  They've taught me a great deal about how to be a better blogger, and blogging has taught me a great deal about how to be a better teacher.

Since I've started blogging, I have been able to make more meaningful connections with a whole demographic of students who know much more than me about coding and social media.  By troubleshooting my tech dilemmas before class, that role reversal between teacher and student has been important for re-shaping the whole classroom dynamic.   Even when we have to switch back to talking history, I think the atmosphere is much more collaborative having had some real authentic learning exchanges where students are the experts.  When I learn something with my students, I feel more comfortable being transparent about my learning and stumbling with tech tools I hope will help them out.  They really appreciate that they aren't alone in the stumbling process, in general.   So when I totally fail with some technology adaptation I know they aren't judging me as a person, just as when they struggle learning to think and write historically they know I'm not judging them as as people.  We're just learning together and sharing our expertise.
I guess that's really what this social media revolution is all about - everyone being transparent in hopes that their knowledge helps someone else, or someone else will help build up their expertise.  Seems like folks in the foodie world really got that down.  Like many foodies,  I'm super sensitive to design - especially how people interact with objects and spaces, including web space - so I believe educators need to get a lot more savvy with the web and social media if we're ever going to re-market ourselves as relevant, important, professionals.  Given that a restaurant's website will really influence my experience in person, I get that my classroom needs an online presence that argues for an experience students will have in person.  Blogging has really helped me figure all this out.

So in the spirit of learning and transparency, I share with you one of my favorite meals to make when the sun is shining: citrus cilantro salmon en papillote with mango salsa.  Comment and tell me what you think!

Ingredients: Salmon en Papillote (makes 2 servings):
  • 2 salmon filets (with or without skin)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallion
  • 1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 2 large pieces of parchment paper (about 1 square foot each) 
  • 1 large lemon, thinly sliced
Ingredients: Mango Salsa (makes 3-4 servings):
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/8 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/8 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix the cilantro, garlic, ginger, salt, cayenne, lemon juice, and olive oil to make the marinade for the salmon.  Place the salmon filets in an air-tight plastic bag with the marinade and chopped scallions.  Let sit for at least 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the mango salsa by combing the diced mango, tomatoes, cilantro, red onion, ginger, lime juice, and salt in a bowl.  Set aside to let those flavors mingle.
You're ready to make the parchment paper pouches.  Chop the ends off of the asparagus and divide evenly between the two pieces of parchment paper.  Lay the salmon on top of each, being sure to divide up the marinade between the two.  Arrange the sliced lemon across the top.
There's no exact science to making the parchment pouches - I just begin by bringing together the two ends of parchment that run parallel to the fish and folding them to make a tight seal.  Use a stapler to hold it, if you want.  Then, fold in the end until you have something close to air-tight.
Place on a baking sheet in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of your filets.  Eat directly from the pouch, or transfer to a plate (but if you do, pour out some of the juice first).
Top with the mango salsa and enjoy.


  1. Jenessa, did you use fresh or frozen salmon for this recipe? I've made paper wrapped fish with whitefish before and it's come out well, but I tried it with frozen salmon once and I wasn't impressed...since then, I've been scared to cook salmon in this way. Did you find that the salmon stayed moist, but not soggy when cooked this way? The pics look great the the mango salsa looks amazing!

    1. hey there! I used fresh salmon for this one. I've also had some horrible salmon experiences (with fresh salmon, in fact), so I know how that can produce an aversion. bad salmon is never just bad...its awful. anyways, I knew these filets were fresh so I went for it. the finished product was flaky and moist, and most of the juice that will run out of the pouch is water from the asparagus and lemon (so it won't have a soggy fish smell at all). I say pick up some fresh salmon and go for it!

  2. Great, I'll try it out with fresh salmon. I've made non-paper wrapped salmon before (I baked frozen salmon here: and it's my favorite fish, so I'm always looking for new ways to cook it. Thanks!

  3. This looks incredible! I read the recipe and don't see where you list the sliced lemon. Is it one lemon, thinly sliced, divided? Thanks!

    1. thanks for catching that omission! yes, it is one large lemon thinly sliced. 3-4 slices per salmon filet will do the trick.

      hope you enjoy it.

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