First things first, I entered my Orecchiette with Ramps and Fiddleheads recipe into the Spring Pasta Competition over at Italy Magazine. There are a lot of other delicious sounding entries to check out. Oh and don't forget to vote:-)
I knew I was going to be home late from work today and was trying to figure out what I could make that wasn't going to have me eating at midnight. I decided to do some kind of seafood and it was either going to be prawns with a tamarind sauce, or salmon... whichever was cheaper/fresher at Wholefoods.
I got there and they had the end pieces of bigger fillets on sale for $4.99 a pound. SCORE! I'd originally thought about having it with some baby mizuna greens, but on the way to the cashier I saw a little yucca sitting there all by its lonesome just begging to be cooked. More on this in my next post...
While I love having most fish prepared simply with some olive oil, a dash of salt and lemon for squeezing, salmon has a bit of a "taste" and I didn't much care for it as a kid. I've grown to like it, but it's still not one of my favourite fish.
Among salmon's redeeming qualities are that it's got a ton of oil if you get the right cut, it's easy to find and it's farmed (although there's some debate as to the ecological impacts of fish farming), so you don't have to worry about depleting the ocean's supply.
When you buy salmon, in addition to checking for freshness (firm, glistening meat), try to get cuts that come from closer to the head as they tend to have more oil that will keep it moist. You can tell where it's from by looking at the shape, the cut's near the tail are shaped like the letter "D" when viewed in profile while the cuts coming from near the head are shaped like a the letter "P" when viewed in profile. You can also usually see more marbling of fat in the pieces from near the head.
Getting back to that "taste" that salmon has, I think of it kind of like lamb. It's not so unpleasant as to make it inedible, but it's not something I look forward to tasting. Despite this, I love lamb and I've found ways to mask some of the "taste" without covering up all the other good qualities of the meat. Using lots of aromatics like garlic and mint really help. I thought I'd try out the same technique on my salmon.
The glaze is decidedly Japanese with its sweet miso and sesame base, but the garlic, cilantro and mint add a wonderful fresh Southeast Asian element that really makes this dish. The combo of flavors is quite unique and I'd imagine it would go well on all kinds of things (grilled eggplant, grilled squid, lamb kabobs, etc).
- Whisk the sesame seeds, miso, mirin, and sugar together with a fork (you might need to use the back of the fork to mash up the miso a little first). Add the mint, cilantro and garlic stir to combine.
- If you're BBQing, get your fire going and make sure you have a cooler area of the fire to put the fish on.
- If you're using the broiler, put your oven rack in the middle of the oven and turn the broiler on high. Get a pan with a wire rack on top ready (I just use a shelf out of the toaster oven on top of a baking sheet).
- Just before you're ready to throw the salmon in the oven, give it a nice thick coating of glaze, especially on top (the meat side). Place the salmon, on the rack, skin side down.
- Cook until the glaze is nice and brown and the salmon is just barely translucent at it's thickest part 7-12 minutes depending on the thickness of the salmon and the temperature of your heat source. If the glaze starts to burn before the salmon is done, lay a piece of foil on top of the salmon.