Tag Archives: salmon

TECHNIQUE + HABIT

Salmon is a forgiving fish, but not always. Through years of trial and error, I’ve found that a nice side of wild salmon (I pick out the pin bones with a pair of tweezers) will always stay tender and moist if it is simply brushed with a bit of olive oil, dusted with salt and pepper, and shoved under the broiler for about five minutes. Keeping a watchful eye and finishing with generous squeezes of lemon renders perfect fish, every time. (Okay, not every time). I find that roasting salmon, on the other hand, delivers a slice of anemic-looking fish with the texture of cat food… and I have yet to master the pan-sear. Live and die by the broil method.

Alongside the salmon was a simple green salad dressed in walnut oil, roasted new potatoes and chopped scallions, and sauteed green beans and carrots. (The key to perfect string beans is to parboil them in salted water for two minutes before flinging them into a piping hot frying pan, where they snap and sizzle for another couple of minutes and attain the perfect amount of crisp and char).

START TO MOVE

This has been the craziest year in the best of ways. In the last nine months, I’ve lived in Ithaca, San Diego, Singapore, and Portland — and I’m moving to Montreal this month. Tomorrow I fly home for a week, and packing up my life — again — has been intense. This post will be quick…

Cumin-rubbed broiled salmon. For a late lunch one afternoon, we broiled a big piece of salmon — purchased at an awe-inspiring fish market at Cannon Beach (promise to post about that next) — in the oven for about 10 minutes. I brushed the salmon with olive oil and lemon, and rubbed it down with spices, including cumin and garam masala. Unfortunately, I broiled it too long and the consistency was dry, but with enough squirts of lemon juice and chopped dill on top, it was more than passable. But when it doubt, always undercook fish — especially when it’s a gorgeous side of meat straight from the Oregon ocean. Sigh.

French green lentils. The rest of the lunch was more successful — organic French lentils were simmered until barely tender in chicken stock, bay leaves, black peppercorns, garlic cloves, lemon zest, half a shallot and butter. I like to drain out the liquid that hasn’t been absorbed so the lentils stay nice and firm.

Potatoes fried in duck fat. We had some leftover duck fat from a breast we bought at Pastaworks. I parboiled one big baking potato for 15 minutes, then sliced it into thick medallions and fried until super crispy in a cast iron skillet coated with velvety, rich duck fat. I added smoked paprika for color and plenty of salt and pepper.

Sauteed baby bok choi. I felt guilty about the conspicuous lack of vegetables on our plates, so I fried up some baby bok choi in a pan with garlic, diced shallots, sesame oil, a little soy sauce, and a splash of chicken broth.

ZIG ZAG LIGHTNING

I was seriously craving protein yesterday at lunchtime. After coating one salmon fillet with a cumin/paprika dry rub, I seared the fish at super high heat for about 5 minutes with a little butter and olive oil, but unfortunately the fish kind of stuck to the pan.

Inspired by a bottle of pomegranate molasses in my pantry, I finished it with a sweet, tangy glaze. In a small bowl I mixed about 1/2 tbsp of molasses (so thick and sweet, use sparingly) with 2 tbsp olive oil and some lemon juice, added salt and pepper until I was happy. I poured it over the salmon once it was in the pan and watched my kitchen fill up with smoke. 

I was also craving vegetables so I found weird bits and bobs in my refrigerator and diced them up. I parboiled the “teeny tiny fingerling potatoes” (actually what they are labeled as at Trader Joes) for 5 minutes and then added them to the stir fry. After 10 minutes everything had relaxed in the pan and I added lemon juice.

Perfect base for salad dressings, too.

I finished with a huge handful of chiffonaded basil.

….Which I also added to the salmon – plus half an avocado. This was about 3x more food than I could actually eat but it sated all the right cravings and had the neat side effect of cleaning out my refrigerator.

AM IN LOVE WITH THE HOOK UPON WHICH EVERYONE HANGS

Sometimes above all else, I value vivid color in my food. The other night I fried farmer’s market banana fingerlings in butter, smoked paprika and with a handful of roasted beets. The potatoes turned a lovely deep blush fuschia color. The next day, when I cubed the leftover fingerlings for a simple potato/beet hash, I saw that their creamy white insides formed an insane gradient. Ombre potatoes!!!

Three-day old (!) escarole salad still crisp, cold and bitter the next day, with thinly sliced Belgian white endives, roasted walnuts and a mustard-lemon vinaigrette.

Leftover broiled salmon, marinated in cumin, olive oil, lime zest and cilantro.

Any excuse to make guacamole. Salmon and avocado is one of the most blissful combinations ever. Fat, with more fat. Creamy, on top of creamy. Somehow you’ve convinced yourself that it’s all so healthy, too. PS I bought a bag of 9 avocados at the farmer’s market for $2. WHAT! I love so much being back in California.

I sat down to eat lunch inside but right away I saw how beautiful it was outside and fled to the deck.

Ahhh, that’s better. If you could pan out on this shot you would see Joni sprawled on the patio table eyeing my salmon with desire. Reread ‘Self-Help’ for the twentieth time under the clear gaze of the chilly February sun and tried to convince myself that it’s not extravangant and/or pathetic to cook elaborate meals just for yourself.

“KEEPING YOUR FINGERS CROSSED MAKES IT DIFFICULT TO HOLD A PEN, BUT I MUST SAY, IT’S WORTH IT.” -Lorrie Moore

pretty as ever

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hmmm. how could i forget to post about such a wonderful meal i cooked up the other evening? with perfect company and ice cold bottles of red stripe, it was the kind of abundance that can only be discovered in the summertime.

a gigantic side of salmon from alaska was treated with a dry tea rub, made mostly with oolong and offset with chinese five spice, ground chipotles, ginger, garlic and chili pepper. we coated the salmon with the dry rub and set it on a bbq – the salmon was wrapped in foil – for about 20 minutes on low heat, no flipping required.

the flavor of this salmon is phenomenal, with a fierce spice that creeps up and lingers at the root of your tongue, as dry and hot as the desert, with undertones of aromatic teas and spices. the salmon was wondefully rich and decadent and fatty, with much-needed citrus tang from plenty of fresh lemon wedges i scattered around the table.

everything else was fairly straightforward; now that i think about it, the entire meal was decidedly low-fuss. the salad was pulled straight from the garden, the lettuce, that is, and mixed with farmers market strawberries, toasted walnuts, and freshly grated parmesan. i whisked up a dressing with the juice and zest of a lemon, good olive oil, more parmesan and plenty of cracked black pepper, for a vinaigrette that was sharp but not overly so. i personally the think that the salad was the most addictive plate of the meal – i kept sneaking handfuls of the stuff with my bare fingers!

and finally, whole wheat rigatoni boiled to the perfect al dente,  and slathered with the freshest pesto you can imagine – bales of basil, direct from the backyard.

a perfect summer evening, augmented with lively conversation, slow country waltzes & a persistent summer breeze. xo

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seven hundred little records, all rock, rhythm and jazz

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ah, summer. there are many things i love about you, but grilling is one of the best. a quick trip to wegman’s resulted in the spontaneous purchase of fresh salmon fillets, a handful of zucchini & heirloom tomatoes, two overripe avocados on sale, and a french whole wheat batard.

after a quick marinade made of limes, garlic, cilantro, red pepper flakes and olive oil, the salmon was ready for the grill (the tempeh got the same marinade treatment, too). i cooked mine about 8 minutes each side on moderate heat. the grill i used was small (and unreliable), and therefore my advice is no good for you. the zucchini was sliced lengthwise and was doused with the juice of a lemon, salt, pepper, cumin and a bit of olive oil. after throwing those on the grill, i mopped up the leftover juices with the bread, and threw that on the grill, too. the lemon gave the bread a nice tang.

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see how small the grill was? i had to cook in batches, which meant that i had eaten nearly half the plate of zucchini before the salmon was done. whoops.

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oh yeah! i made guacamole, too. from scratch, because that’s the ONLY way to enjoy guacamole. despite the slight overripeness of the avocados, this turned out spectacularly. 2 avocados + the juice of 1 lime + 1/2 finely diced red onion + red pepper flakes + 1/2 cup packed finely minced cilantro = pure, unadulterated heaven. i like my guac chunky, so all this really needed was some light mashing & mixed with a regular ol’ fork. if you like a smoother consistency, throw it in the food processor and pulse.

i could eat this stuff with a spoon, straight-up, somewhat like my gluttonous peanut butter jar tactics. the guac was excellent on the salmon, but it’s nice to let it shine on its own with some unsalted blue corn tortilla chips.

have a lovely friday, all! xo

the good life

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i adore cooking. whether it’s the first bbq of the summer at a dear friend’s backyard

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(yes, these were as good as they looked)

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whether it’s making fresh pico de gallo from a friend’s enormous garden bounty (yes, i’m aware it’s early for tomato season; this photo is from last august),

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or whether it’s simply dinner for one (i cooked myself spicy salmon with navy beans & whole wheat penne).

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but i equally love eating out (this was a particularly epic chocolate cake – it’s the best thing wegman’s sells. trust.)

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especially when it’s chicken teriyaki at a cheap hawaiian diner in lanai,

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or a divine cheese plate and bottle of mellow bordeaux at my favorite french bistro on the lower east side. i still have dreams about their brie and frisee salad.

:stomach grumble:

it is lunch time yet?