Seasonal Chef: Salmon, a versatile and easy to cook ingredient.

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When I found out last week that this week’s #FridayFishDish was going to be salmon, I wanted to jump on that bandwagon. Salmon ranks up there with not only being a super healthy ingredient for you to eat, but incredibly versatile and easy to cook.

Salmon is high in protein and Omega-3 fats. It’s been noted that including salmon in your diet helps improve your cardiovascular, nerve and joint health. Generally people that don’t typically like fish, enjoy salmon, I think because it’s an ingredient that can be prepared in a number of ways: smoked, grilled, steamed, seared and baked – just to name just a few. One of my favorite cooking techniques is to sear it with fresh herbs, a recipe I highlighted in my Meyer Lemon post a few weeks ago.

I came across this Salmon Cake recipe several years ago and make it frequently, with a couple of changes to the linked recipe: First, I only used fresh salmon, not canned. (I actually hate the taste of canned salmon, but that’s just me!) I poach it in a little water with a clove of garlic and sprig of parsley. Let cool for about 15 minutes and break into chunks. You don’t want to shred the salmon, the larger pieces look pretty in the final dish.

Other changes to the recipe are: one whole egg, rather than the two yolks listed; and every now and then I add a little something if I have it in the ‘fridge – in this picture you can see a little red bell pepper peeking out from the patty. After forming into patties I let them firm up for about 10 minutes and pan fry in a non-stick pan using the tiniest amount of oil.

Every year around this time I do a birthday dinner for Larry. He gets to pick the general cuisine and I do the creating. I started this tradition when we first got engaged and have been doing it ever since. Some years it’s easy and some challenging – but that’s what makes it all fun. (He caught me just as I was about to start cooking!)

This year he wanted to have the food from one of our favorite restaurants in Los Angeles STREET created by one of my very favorite chefs Susan Feniger. In the early ‘90s she had one the first Food Network shows on the air called The Too Hot Tamales, with the longtime collaborator Mary Sue Milliken. I remember watching that show years ago and being introduced to a cuisine that I never tasted growing up in Pittsburgh.

More after the jump

The food of “Street” is just that, street food from around the world. Her dishes are ingenious and the flavors out of this world. For Christmas Larry got me the cookbook, perhaps as a hint, but also because living in New York I only get to taste her food when we go to Los Angeles to visit his family. I came across a beautiful chopped salad recipe she has in the book using black cod, and decided to adapt it to salmon this week. I pretty much stayed true to her recipe and flavor profile, only making a few changes.

The key to the salmon is not overcooking it. There is nothing worse in my mind than a piece of over cooked, dried out fish. It’s almost best to take it out of the oven just ever so slightly underdone and cover lightly with foil. The carry-over cooking will finish it on top of the stove.

In her original recipe for the dressing she uses absinthe. Absinthe is easy to find at the liquor store, and strangely we have a bottle of it in the freezer, but I decided to adapt that ingredient for you. Absinthe has an anise flavor to it, so I used anise seed, which worked beautifully.

Another ingredient that she uses in the recipe is seaweed or nori. If possible, try using that in the salad. It’s very inexpensive and a great addition. It gives the overall flavor a little something special. You can find dried nori sheets in a lot of places: Asian markets, grocery stores in the international section and even at Costco!

Once you get it all together it’s topped with a beautiful fried or poached egg and served.

Just for fun I did another version yesterday going a much simpler route. Over a bed of greens I added cucumber, radish, cherry tomato, chick peas, olives and hard cooked eggs. The dressing was a very simple lemon and olive oil. The salmon is cooked exactly the same way and added to the top. This is a perfect combination for a light dinner or on a lunch buffet.

I hope you enjoy these delicious salmon ideas!

Buon Appetito!

Salmon, Brown Rice and Egg Chopped Salad

Yield: 4 servings

Salmon, Brown Rice and Egg Chopped Salad

Adapted by Maria Reina from Susan Feniger's Korean Chopped Salad, this is a delicious salad to serve for brunch, or even for a light supper.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups short-grain brown rice
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps sliced
  • 2 cups cubed firm tofu (1/2-inch cubes)
  • 1 cup bean sprouts, rinsed and refreshed in cold water
  • 1/3 cup toasted salted sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried seaweed (such as hijiki or toasted nori)
  • 3/4 cup Sesame Dressing (recipe follows)
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, outer leaves discarded, shredded
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 pound salmon, skin removed (recipe below) gently broken up
  • 4 large eggs

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. Put the rice in a medium bowl and rinse it under cold water, stirring it with your hand, for 1 minute. Drain, and put it in a heavy saucepan. Add 2 1/2 cups cold water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover, and bring the water to a boil over high heat, about 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, covered, stirring halfway through. Turn off the heat and let the rice steam under the cover for 5 minutes. Then transfer the rice to a large mixing bowl. Fluff it with a fork and set it aside to cool to room temperature. Do not refrigerate!
  3. While the rice is cooking place the salmon on a foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and season with kosher salt and ground black pepper, on both sides. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Be careful to not over cook the salmon. You want it to loose its translucency but not be dried out. Remove and allow to cool on the baking sheet, until you are able to gently break apart the filet in 1-2” pieces.
  4. Meanwhile, put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a sauté pan set over high heat. Add the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms start to brown and are soft throughout, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the cooled rice. Add the tofu, bean sprouts, sunflower seeds, seaweed, and sesame dressing. Add the salmon and fold gently with your fingers to combine.
  5. Divide the shredded lettuce among 4 bowls. Squeeze some lemon juice over each bowl, and toss gently. Divide the rice mixture among the 4 bowls.
  6. Return the pan to medium-high heat and fry the 4 eggs sunny side up. Season to taste with salt. Top each salad with an egg, and serve immediately. Instruct your guests to break open the egg and mix it into their salads as they are eating.
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Sesame Dressing for Salmon, Brown Rice and Egg Salad

Yield: Makes 1 1/4 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of anise seed, slightly crushed
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Juice of 1 medium lemon (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, grated on a microplane
  • 1/3 cup sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons spicy sesame oil

Instructions

  1. In a small microwave safe glass jar mix the lightly crushed seeds and water. Microwave for 15 seconds and allow to cool.
  2. Add the lemon juice, soy sauce, vinegar and ginger to the jar, close tightly and shake. Add the oils and shake vigorously to mix. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use or for up to 3 days. As the dressing sits it will separate, so shake thoroughly before using.
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Seasonal Chef blogger Maria Reina comes to the world of food as a third career, spending a great portion of her adult life in the field of Human Resources. With her private company Bella Cucina Maria she is a personal chef, caterer and recreational cooking class teacher in Westchester. She’s an avid food television watcher and cookbook collector, always looking for a new take on a traditional dish. In her free time she loves hanging out at local farmers, chatting it up with the farmers and doing cooking demos with their seasonal ingredients. In addition to her blog, which is loaded with easy recipes, you can follow her on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest. She lives in Port Chester with her husband Larry and their taste tester Cocoa.

 

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About Author

Seasonal Chef blogger Maria Reina comes to the world of food as a third career, spending a great portion of her adult life in the field of Human Resources. With her private company Bella Cucina Maria she is a personal chef, caterer and recreational cooking class teacher in Westchester. She's an avid food television watcher and cookbook collector, always looking for a new take on a traditional dish. In her free time she loves hanging out at local farmers, chatting it up with the farmers and doing cooking demos with their seasonal ingredients. In addition to her blog, which is loaded with easy recipes, you can follow her on Facebook (Bella Cucina Maria), Twitter (Bellacucinam) and Pinterest (Bellacucinam).

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