January 23, 2011

Sunday Salmon

Posted in Cooking at 8:33 PM by Robin

A lot of my cooking creativity comes from being at the end of my grocery week and having one or two ingredients that really need to be used up immediately, and very little else left in my pantry!  I usually do a recipe search online with the two ingredients, which often don’t intuitively go together, to see if I can find something palatable. This week I had no meat left in my fridge except for a bunch of rather low-quality sliced ham that Andrew picked up from the store, and a bag of frozen salmon fillets. The ham sounded very unappetizing (especially since I’ve had it for lunch like three days in a row), so it was salmon night at our house. I paired it up with a bunch of fresh spinach left over from last week’s produce co-op basket which needed to be used soon, and headed off to Google.  I found this recipe for Salmon with Spinach Sauce on Allrecipes.com, which is my favorite recipe site.

Of course, I was missing a few things, namely lemons and lemon pepper seasoning, and a pressure cooker. So, I just sprinkled the salmon with salt and pepper and a little garlic powder before sauteeing it  in olive oil and butter for three minutes or so on each side. I substituted a little white cooking wine for the lemon juice (it wasn’t cooked off, but I’m sure the little bit in such a large amount of sauce is not going to hurt anybody), and I used whole-grain mustard instead of dijon, even though I had some dijon on hand, just because I love whole grain mustard and use it at every opportunity!

After the salmon was done, I put it on a my lovely new Chilean pewter platter (thank you, Liz), covered it with tin foil to keep it warm, and poured about half a can of chicken broth in the same pan I cooked the fish in. I scraped up all the yummy little brown bits on the bottom and brought the broth to a boil, then I stirred in about 3/4 cup of couscous, put a lid on, and turned off the heat.

The result: it was pretty good, I think. Even Andrew, who is not a big salmon eater, liked it. I think the fish and the sauce turned out okay–it probably would have been better with the lemon juice–but the thing that really pulled it all together for me, surprisingly, was the couscous! Unfortunately, I’m not supposed to eat couscous right now, which is sad, because I love it. So, I just sneaked a couple of spoonfuls of it and sprinkled them on top of my fish. But, oh, wow, somehow that couscous raised the dish from a B to an A!

In case you’re curious, on the side we had steamed broccoli with butter and garlic powder, and boiled cabbage with butter (I made a lot of veggies because I was afraid I didn’t have enough salmon to go around).

Oh, and for dessert, I made a sugar-free version of Christmas jell-o, the lazy version. I used red and green sugar-free jell-o, with a layer of whipped cream cheese, a little sour cream, and some Splenda in between. The jell-o part was good, but the cream cheese part tasted a little too fake sugar-y. I will have to experiment with different no-calorie sweeteners. Suggestions?

Afterthought: If you have never liked salmon, I would suggest it’s because you’ve been eating the wrong kind!  Most of the salmon you find in supermarkets today is farm-raised. I have never had good farm-raised salmon. If you see wild-caught salmon in your butcher’s case for a decent price, snap it up! The taste is completely different! I don’t what it is about swimming wild and free, but it sure makes those fish taste better! If it’s not available fresh, or if the fresh is just too pricey for you, you can get it frozen. I think I got a 2 pound bag for $10 at Smith’s, which had four generously sized portions in it. The only drawback is that it didn’t have the skin on, which I think makes a difference in the flavor. The fillets thaw in the microwave in two minutes and take about five minutes to cook, which makes for a great quick and healthy lunch. Also, it’s really easy to overcook salmon. Salmon is like steak–it’s best when it’s left slightly rare inside. Saute it only long enough to get a good sear on both sides, and leave the inside slightly pink. Otherwise you will have a mouthful of dry, tough fish leather that nobody will want to eat!