Monday, November 24, 2014

Quick salmon ‘n’ salsa

I have been looking for a reason to start writing this blog again and at the suggestion of a friend  have plumbed for recipes that can get men who dont usually cook. I am aiming at capable, busy men who are being forced by modern times to take on more of a role at home. Men who for one reason or another havent cooked since they began cohabiting with a woman. I am not naturally organised nor ordered but crave both. Many men naturally are or at least like to see it so the recipes are written with that in mind - careful measurements and timings; timesaving methods; ideas for further uses where applicable, how to store and for how long etc. So here goes......

Salmon ‘n’ salsa. 
I put in the ‘n’ because I think food always tastes nicer if you think it is American.

The following recipe is super simple and very agreeable to all but the most irritating diners. It takes half an hour if you don’t know what you are doing and about 20 mins if you do. Do it 5 times and you will get it done in 15
I will not go into the provenance  of ingredients. I need to leave that to others.  I loathe shopping with a passion but it has to be done. The below is all bought in a supermarket.  Needless to say you will be closer to God (ie further away from the Devil) if you buy it from the likes of Tony Archer. 

Serves 4
4 fillets of salmon (most supermarkets have them already cut and if not the monger will cut you the weight you need)
1 level tea mug of basmati rice
200g spinach
1 small ripe mango
½ small red onion (70g +/-)
1 lime (give it a squeeze to see it is juicy)
1 chilli
½ a small bunch of coriander (40g +/-)

1. Cook rice - Choose a high sided pan that is is about 6 times bigger than the mug. Pour the mug of rice into the pan, add just under double the quantity of water and a pinch of salt. Put heat on full volume, stir a bit and cover. Keep and eye or an ear open for when it comes to the boil. When it does switch it down to minimum and turn off 10 mins later. Leave it with its lid on to steam and fluff up. (see note 1)

2. Wash spinach – Open bag (presumably it comes in a bag) with scissors, place the opening under the tap and fill with water. Sluice it around a bit, leave of a few mins, sluice and leave again then lift out the spinach into a colander and let it drain.

3 Make salsa - Squeeze lime juice into bowl big enough to take all ingredients.
Peel and chop red onion into fine dice (see note 2) and put into bowl.
Peel the mango with a potato peeler then cut into slices a similar thickness to an iPhone. Then dice the slice. Add to bowl.
Cut stem off the chilli and have a lick. That will indicate its potency. Roll the chilli between your finger and thumb squeezing out the seeds. Then chop the chilli into tiny ringlets. Add the quantity you know you and your diners can deal with (and a tiny bit more) to bowl.
Chop coriander leaves and stems nice and fine. Add to bowl
Give it a stir and place stylishly on your Ercol dining table.

4. Cook salmon – put fish skin side up and season with salt and course ground black pepper. Choose a wide low-sided pan that will fit all the pieces with a little room spare on each side. if they sit too close together the salmon steams rather than sears.
Get the pan hot  and switch on extraction. Lay the pieces evenly spaced in the pan skin side down. No oil is needed (see note 3). Turn the heat down to ¾ volume & leave it to sizzle, hiss and sear for 4 mins.
Using a palette knife or similar (see photo) send the tip in between the pan and skin of the first piece. It should lift with only the slightlest restistence. Keeping the fillet between the palette knife and your finger on the flesh side, flip it over. If the skin does not want to move without making a mess then it needs a little more time (the more it is cooked, the easier it comes away from the pan). Repeat with other 3 and cover with a lid. 4 mins later the fish should be cooked. You will know this because it should look as if it is beginning to sweat. If you are unsure, lift one out and break it open with your fingers to see if it is cooked inside. It should have changed from the uncooked reddish pink  to whitish pink. Be careful not to leave it too long. If you do you will recognize this because the sweat will be milky to the eye and th flesh dry to the tongue.
5. Cook spinach – in the time it takes from flipping the salmon over you can cook the spinach. Heat a pan that would fit all the spinach in it were you to squash it all in. Again no oil needed here; the residual water from washing the spinach is plenty for it to cook in. Add a handful of spinach into the pan and stir. Once it begins to wilt, add another handful and so on till all the spinach is cooked. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the liquid that comes out into a little glass and gulp down that delicious spinach consomme yourself.

Put the rice on the plate with some spinach next to it and the salmon on top. Spoon some salsa next to it, call the prandialists and glow.

- This is an ultra simple rice recipe, there is no mystique involved, no “oh but isnt rice difficult to cook?” Nix.
- For the best way to peel and chop and onion see J.O. link here
The only thing I would add is that if you don’t cut off the actual root at all you will cry less. If you do not relish slicing and dicing (which I do, it's legal) then get an alligator (see photo)
- Minimise mess and washing up – eg use packaging as a surface for seasoning fish. Wash and wipe as you go.
- Salmon has copious quantities of its own fat. They start seeping the moment the skin hits the hot pan. If you add oil yourself your it will burn in the pan.
- Use your common sense throughout.