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Posts Tagged ‘Salmon’

Southern Salmon Sauce

My sister in law is one of those people who is secretly good at things. Maybe it’s because she’s from the south and is therefore more polite than most people, but she totally downplays her abilities. She’s a ringer on the tennis court even though most casual acquaintances don’t even know she plays. Her house looks professionally decorated even though she did it herself, and did it without uttering one word about trips to lighting galleries or fabric showrooms.

And she’s secretly a great cook, too. Every time she invites us over for dinner, she says something like, “It’ll be really casual; we’ll probably just pick up barbecue or make burgers.” And then we show up and she’s made a gorgeous salad, whipped up some heavenly-smelling side dish, and is prepping a trophy fish for the grill. And to put on that fish, she often makes this especially delicious sauce. After swooning over it about five times, I finally asked for the recipe.

Except, of course, there really isn’t a recipe. She basically told me what she puts in it, and what her mother puts in her version, and I fiddled around with it until I got close enough to share this. This sauce is savory and tangy at the same time, and it elevates any piece of fish — whether grilled, broiled, or baked — from a midweek basic to something you could — and should — serve to company. But don’t wait for guests to make this. And don’t leave out the butter; that is one ingredient both southern ladies (politely) insisted upon. I couldn’t agree more.

The only thing even slightly difficult about making this is you need to peel some fresh ginger. I do this with a knife, and you’ll need at least an inch worth from the ginger root. Once the ginger is peeled, you can either mince it finely with a knife or run it over a fine grater or microplane. I especially love this on salmon, but it’s great on halibut and bass, too.

Pan Sauce for Fish

Ingredients
1 tbs. fresh ginger, grated or minced
1/2 cup soy sauce
2-3 scallions, finely sliced up to about midway through the light green part
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 pat of butter (1/2 tbs.)
Pinch brown sugar (optional)

Grate the ginger and slice the scallions. In a small skillet, heat the soy sauce over low-medium heat. Add scallions, ginger, and cayenne. Simmer until sauce starts to thicken. Add brown sugar if you want it a bit sweeter. If it seems too strong, add a couple tablespoons of water and continue simmering. Cook fish. Just before serving, add the butter and let it melt in the sauce. Spoon over fish.

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This is comfort food — not in the same sense as mac ‘n cheese of course, but anything sitting on top of a steaming bowl of sushi rice is comforting in my book. Sushi rice is completely satisfying and very filling. Its gluey deliciousness is worth an occasional departure from brown rice (although short-grain brown rice would also work for this dish) — especially since sushi rice is a key part of what’s referred to as the healthiest diet on earth.

This recipe is from Nigella Lawson’s book Kitchen. The only changes I made were to use chili paste instead of the finely chopped red or green chiles Nigella called for. Plus, I cooked a bunch of broccoli to serve with it. Broccoli works great with the slightly sweet and spicy Asian flavors here, and I definitely felt like the dish — and my kids — needed a veggie. Green beans would also be good, or asparagus. I like that the meal is customizable and can be deconstructed for any kids’ food issues (er, I mean tastes).

The most comforting thing about this dish was that everyone in my family loved it. Especially me.

Salmon with Sticky Rice

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups sushi rice (You can buy this in bulk at Whole Foods; I recommend making more than this because you’re going to crave it for lunch the next day.)
1 lb. slab of salmon without the skin (preferably wild salmon; remove the skin with a knife if necessary)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 tsp. red or green chiles, diced (I used Sambal Oelek red chile paste.)
2 tbs. minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tbs. mirin or sake (Nigella called for 2 tbs. of each, but I just used the mirin. Mirin is a sweet Japanese rice wine and is usually easy to find in the Asian aisle of the supermarket; sake requires a trip to the liquor store.)
2 tbs. lime juice (about 1 lime, squeezed)

Cook the rice following the directions on the package (or bulk bin) or in a rice cooker.

Cook some broccoli (or green beans or asparagus spears or all of the above) in salted boiling water until just tender, 2-3 minutes, drain and set aside.

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add a few drops of oil. Sear the salmon for 4-5 minutes on one side (if you’re using a stainless steel pan, the salmon should release fairly easily when it’s ready to be turned; don’t mess with it until then), turn it over and cook for another minute or so. The salmon should be just barely opaque and cooked in the center. Remove it from the pan and put it on a large piece of tin foil; make a loose package with the foil and seal the edges to keep the fish warm.

Mix the sauce ingredients together and put in a bowl to serve alongside the salmon and rice. You can serve this family style with the whole fish on a platter, which would make a nice presentation for guests, or divide the rice and fish (and veggies) into separate bowls according to your picky eaters’ specifications. I left the sauce off my daughter’s portion and added extra heat (I recommend trying sweet and gingery Lingham’s hot sauce; Sriracha is also tasty with this) to mine and my husband’s.

Tomorrow, leftover sushi rice with sauteed mushrooms for lunch! Mmmm.

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