Lenny wasn’t always like this. Unlike his brother Harry, who’s always been very clear about his hopes and dreams for ALL TEH HUMAN FOOD ALL TEH TIME, Lenny used to hang back from the table, content to chomp on the savory brown goop and crunchy pellets doled out with great fanfare and crowing meows each day.
He arrived as a four-month-old kitten, all ears, eyes, and flexy paws, and grew into a snuggle machine with tiny rumbly purrs, whiskers longer than Sam Elliott’s mustache, fur softer than a chinchilla, and a fiercely willful streak. Somewhere along the line, Lenny also became a sneak. No longer satisfied by his stupidly expensive prescription food, he’d start stalking the kitchen counters, waiting until we were out of sight to ascend noiselessly on ninja pawpads. It wasn’t until we’d hear the soft “thud!” of paws hitting the linoleum that we’d realize Lenny had struck again.
What’s he looking for up there on the counter? Well, much like Harry became his mother’s son with his omnivorous appetite, Lenny takes after me in a different way: he lusts for cheese, cream, butter, and bread more than anything else. Once or twice, we’ve caught him fully crouched in the sink, his tiny body bent to lick whipped cream out of bowls and butter off (thankfully dull) knives. He’s stolen cheesy baked croutons out of salad bowls, dragging them onto the floor in triumph. He perches on my shoulder or commandeers my lap and stretches his neck out like an eel to sniff the milk foam on my morning coffee.
Where this desire for dairy came from, I have no idea, but I can’t give in, no matter how much or how loudly complains. What I can do is give Lenny his formerly favorite food, salmon—after all, today is his sixth birthday, and even I allow myself a little something special one day a year. Why shouldn’t I do the same for my boys? (For humans, there’s no need to wait around for a birthday to make salmon. The recipe below makes for a virtuous weeknight dinner for one, but is elegant enough to double or quadruple for company.)
[And P.S.: If you’re captivated by Lenny and his gorgeous whalecat of a brother, they pop up regularly on my Instagram feed. Just sayin’.]
Baked Miso Salmon for Humans or Cats
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 4 hours 20 minutes, including marinating time
Makes 1 human serving or 4 cat servings
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon brown or white miso
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 4-oz. filet of wild salmon
- 2 tablespoons nonfat Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
Add 1 tablespoon miso plus the mirin and rice vinegar to a quart-size zip-top bag. Seal tightly, then mush the miso around until combined with the liquid. Add the salmon, re-seal, and marinate in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400˚F and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Place the salmon on the prepared baking sheet (go ahead and toss that bag with the marinade) and bake for about 10 minutes, until the salmon is just cooked through and flakes easily when prodded with a fork.
While the salmon bakes, whisk the remaining teaspoon miso with the yogurt, olive oil, and parsley. Dollop on top of the baked salmon (you’ll have extra if you want it).
Take two bites of the salmon and realize yet again that despite your best efforts, you still can’t convince yourself to like this fish. Rue the fact that you didn’t buy cod, or a whole branzino, or any other fish that you really do like, since you’ll eat pretty much any of them except salmon.
Scrape the yogurt off the filet, flake it into tiny bits, and feed it to grateful (well, not so much grateful as expectant/excited beyond their wildest tiny cat imaginations) felines.