Honey Citrus Steamed Salmon

You might find this hard to believe, but I have never liked salmon. It’s strange because salmon is supposed to be the fish that pleases all pallets. Yet as I grew up and began to enjoy more and more kinds of seafood salmon has always remained at the bottom of my list – right next to sea urchin and raw oysters. Living in Japan gave my taste buds a whole new appreciation for fish of all kinds, both raw and cooked, and some of my favorite foods today include sashimi and cooked sea bream. Salmon however…is just…too fishy.

I had a revelation, though, shortly before I moved to Nova Scotia last year. My dad (a loyal salmon eater) prepared a few fish steaks in the oven one night using a new cedar plank he had received as a gift. Deciding I didn’t have anything to lose by giving them a shot, I served myself a small 3″-square helping…and ended up eating two more full-sized steaks. They were amazing! I wish I could share that recipe with you now, but I lack both the cedar plank and my father. Believe me, I’m working on it. In the mean time, I challenged myself to come up with a different salmon recipe that I could enjoy. Something ridiculously easy that I could whip up on a busy weeknight and with the possibility of leftovers.

Believe it or not, I have found my recipe. This dish is super easy to prepare (especially if you buy your fish already skinned), very customizable, and is easily scaled up or down. The lighter flavors are great for summer, but the meal is satisfying and stays with you throughout the day. Oh, and you’ve got a big omega-3 boost plus a load of vegetables. That doesn’t hurt either. 😉

Honey Citrus Salmon (glaze recipe sourced from here)

Ingredients:

4   ~6 oz. salmon steaks, skin removed

4   small zucchini, sliced into ¼” thick medallions

4   T   honey

3   T   fresh lime juice

2   T   fresh orange juice

1   T   fresh herbs of your choice*

1   T   EVOO

salt and pepper to taste

lemon wedges for garnish, if desired

* Note: I was feeling adventurous and used summer savory this time. I know it’s supposed to be used in red meat or rich poultry dishes, but it just smelled so good at the market I had to get some! Apparently, savory is frequently used in Atlantic Canada like sage is used elsewhere. Taking into account my past obsession with sage, I shouldn’t be surprised savory smells so amazing to me, haha.

Procedure:

1) Preheat oven at 400°F. In a small bowl, whisk together honey and juices to make a light glaze (I included a few pieces of orange pulp in mine, just to give it a few extra bursts of flavor), set aside. In a medium bowl toss zucchini medallions, EVOO, herbs, and seasoning until evenly coated.

2) Distribute prepared zucchini evenly among four large sheets of aluminum foil, mounding them no higher than 2 slices thick in the centers of each. Place salmon steaks on top of zucchini and then drizzle honey citrus glaze over the salmon. Add a pinch more of seasoning to the tops of salmon to finish.

3) Starting with the shorter edges first, gently but firmly roll up the foil around the salmon forming little packets. Be sure to leave plenty of room on top for the steam to collect. The packets a bit like calzones standing up on their edges. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until salmon easily flakes. Be careful when unwrapping the packets to check – the steam will be HOT! Serve immediately. Leftovers will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Beezer’s Notes:

I really do like this salmon; it does exactly what I want it to and tastes great to boot. The best surprise with this recipe, though, was Brad’s reaction: he has dubbed this my “best dinner ever”! I am stunned. I know he likes salmon in general, and this is a pretty tasty dish, but I didn’t think it was that good, haha. I’m going to compromise and give it 4 hearts. It’s not my favorite, but it’s now his so I must have done something right. 😉

Overall Enjoyment:   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

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Tuna, Artichoke, and Basil Stuffed Potatoes

I woke up to a cool, drizzly Sunday morning and decided the best thing to do after having had a fantastic birthday yesterday was to relax today and finally post this recipe on my neglected blog. This spring has been one of the busiest I’ve had in years, rivaling my undergraduate days only with less exam stress and more long-distance driving. It was great to unwind a bit, have fun with family, and do what I do best: climb and eat! haha 🙂

I began the day by grabbing coffee and negotiating crowds at Burlington’s newly-reopened Farmer’s Market with my mom and  my brother’s girlfriend. It’s already obvious it will be a busy season for the park: only the second day the market has opened and nearly half the grounds were occupied with white tents and a variety of tables. Food vendors seem to be staking their turf early this year and after drooling over vegan baked goods, Tibetan lunches, African samosas, maple desserts, and a good old-fashioned American grill we nabbed a few grapefruit-sized stuffed dumplings from the Tibetan vendor, plopped ourselves down on the grass, and ate breakfast.

Then, threading our way out of the market and onto the cobbled Church Street strip, we did some celebratory shopping before meeting up with my two brothers for an afternoon of climbing at the gym. The only thing that would make the day more perfect would have been climbing some actual rock, but with record rains this season that wasn’t an option. Still, I was able to stick a previously-failed 5.8+ route, so my muscles are slooowly but surely starting to come back and I’m hoping to regularly climb a respectable 5.9 by summer. I can’t decide what’s harder about returning to a sport you love after years of absence: the actual physical rehabilitation or the mental teasing that comes with what you know how to do but physically can’t anymore.

Finally, to round out a perfect day with a perfect evening, the rest of the family joined us for dinner at Asiana House for some excellent food. We took turns swapping maki rolls for bites of tempura, a slurp of udon, or a spoonful of bibimbap (our favorite dish name of all time). My grandmother’s taste for Asian food has grown over the years since my return from Japan – and multiple birthdays at such restaurants – and she can now add green soba to her list of enjoyable meals. My aunt learned the best way to eat edemame and, while I still have to convince her to use chopsticks, she was the only one to order sashimi so I forgave for her for the fork, haha.

I suppose my real single regret of yesterday was leaving my camera at home. I would have loved to share the photos of both family and food with you, but it says something when an amateur photographer is having so much fun she forgets the camera. It was a great birthday.

Tuna, Artichoke, and Basil Stuffed Potatoes

(from Eating Well‘s April ’11 Edition)

Ingredients:

4   medium russet potatoes, scrubbed

2   5 – 6 oz. cans of chunk light tuna, drained*

¾   C   nonfat plain Greek yogurt

½   C   plus 2 T chopped fresh basil, divided

1   6 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (~ ½ C)

2   scallions, chopped

1   T   capers, rinsed (optional)

¼   t   salt

½   t   freshly ground pepper

¾   C   shredded provolone cheese

1   plum tomato, finely chopped

* Note: Please see the Seafood Watch program by Monterey Bay Aquarium for how to buy sustainable tuna. Along with sustainability, you can look here to find cans that are BPA-free. I took Eating Well‘s suggestion and used the brand Wild Planet. Finally, if you may become pregnant, are pregnant, or are feeding young children you should limit your consumption of tuna to 12-oz. a week for light tuna or no more than 6-oz. for albacore tuna due to the risk of mercury contamination. Yellowfin tuna is considered a “light” tuna but has higher mercury levels similar to albacore so please take note. More seafood safety information here.

Procedure:

  1. Pierce potatoes all over with a fork. Microwave on Medium, turning once or twice, until soft – about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, combine tuna, yogurt, ½ Cup basil, artichoke, scallions, capers (if using), salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
  2. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, carefully cut off the top third lengthwise. Scoop out the insides and add to the bowl with the tuna mix. Place the potato shells in a microwave-safe dish. Mash the potato and tuna mixture together with a fork or a potato masher until well blended.
  3. Evenly divide the tuna filling among the potato shells – they will be very well stuffed. Top with cheese and microwave on High for a few minutes until filling is hot and the cheese has melted. To serve, top each potato with some tomato and a little of the remaining 2 Tablespoons basil. They will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days, just reheat thoroughly before serving.

Beezer’s Notes:

I don’t eat seafood as often as I’d like, but for some reason I find myself posting two seafood recipes in row. My body is probably trying to tell me something… Anyway, these stuffed potatoes are really great. They’re incredibly easy to put together, quick to cook, and very filling! They should please children and adults alike with their mild but flavorful stuffing and adaptability (scratch the capers for bacon, add some chili powder, or do a 3-cheese blend with some diced pickles instead of herbs for tuna-melt twist). Their only weakness is also their strength: they are huge. With a salad as a side, I could only eat half a potato at once. I want to work on a mini-boat version of this recipe using fingerling potatoes for an appetizer spin.

Overall Enjoyment:   ♥    ♥    ♥    ♥


Crab Cakes with Lemon-Dill Sauce

Things are looking up! I’ve been able to sleep through the last few nights in a row (gasp!) and my left eye has finally stopped twitching, haha. Getting up at the more reasonable time of 10 a.m. this morning I felt human for the first time in weeks. I cleaned my room, paid the bills, went grocery shopping, and spent two hours giving my poor goldfish the TLC they desperately needed. With a squeaky-clean tank and brand new plants I hope they’re feeling the love.

I suppose it’s a bit inappropriate to segue into a seafood post just now, but since I’m not talking about fish exactly I hope Howard and Pearl can forgive me. Today’s recipe is for some quick and light crab cakes that will help liven up your backyard BBQs – assuming you all are luckier than us VTers and still have a backyard above water. We rarely have crab cakes around here and those offered at our limited seafood restaurants always seemed like oily, heavy bricks to me. So, finding a crab cake recipe that was not only simple but also rather light immediately got me excited.

I have to be honest here, however, and admit that since I already had mayo and sour cream in my fridge I did not buy fat-free versions just for this recipe…the mayo was canola-based though so that counts for something, doesn’t it? Anyway, I’m posting the recipe as I made it because A. I’m sure it tastes better and B. you’re only eating one-sixteenth of a Cup of mayo per cake and even less sour cream so, honestly, I believe the taste is well worth the extra calories. By all means, though, use the low-fat versions of each if you’d prefer – it’s an easy enough swap.


I’ll take a moment now to mention Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. If you haven’t noticed the link on the right-hand side of this blog, please take a minute to check it out. They have many handy guides to help you buy sustainable, healthy seafood without hassle. I have their iPod app and – let me tell ya – it’s fantastic. I use it whenever I want seafood, either at a restaurant, sushi bar, or for my own cooking. Because I couldn’t find shelled crabmeat at my Co-op I used the source recipe’s recommendation of Wild Planet brand canned crabmeat that’s sustainably caught and canned in BPA-free packaging. You didn’t know I was such a hippie, did you?

Crab Cakes with Dill Sauce (adapted from Light and Healthy‘s 2010 Edition)

Ingredients:

For Crab Cakes…

1   lb.   jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over to remove cartilage and shells

¼   C   mayonnaise

2 – 4   T   plain Panko

2   T   Dijon mustard

4   scallions (green parts only) minced*

2   t   minced fresh dill

2   t   minced fresh parsley

1   t   Old Bay Seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

1   large egg

2   T   canola oil

lemon wedges for serving

* Note: I did not include scallions in my cakes because my bunch went bad before I had a chance to make this recipe (see my rant in the last post) and I didn’t want to buy another when I had plenty of dill and parsley to make up for it.

For Dill Sauce…

¼   C   mayonnaise

2   T   sour cream

1   T   fresh lemon juice

2   t   minced fresh shallot

2   t   minced fresh dill

¼   t   salt

low-fat milk as needed

Procedure:

  1. Gently fold the crabmeat, mayonnaise, 2 Tablespoons of the Panko, mustard, scallions, herbs, and seasoning together in a medium bowl being careful not to break up the lumps of crab. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Carefully fold in the egg white with a rubber spatula until the mixture just holds together, adding the remaining bread crumbs as needed.
  3. Divide the crab mixture into 4 portions and shape each into a round cake about 3″ across and 1½” high. Transfer the cakes to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  4. As the cakes are chilling, prepare the Lemon-Dill sauce by mixing the mayo, sour cream, lemon juice, dill, shallot, and salt together in a small bowl. Add milk as needed to thin to the desired consistency. Cover and chill along with the cakes for up to 24 hours to allow the flavors to develop.
  5. Heat oil in a 12″ nonstick skillet over Medium-high heat until shimmering. Gently add the chilled crab cakes to the pan and cook until well browned on either side, flipping halfway through – about 8 minutes. If you’re concerned with burning, dredge the cakes in a bit of flour before adding them to the skillet. I completely forgot this step and my cakes turned out fine, but if you might want to try this precautionary step.
  6. Transfer cakes to a paper towel-lined plate to drain briefly. Serve with a dollop of Lemon-Dill Sauce and lemon wedges.

Beezer’s Notes:

These cakes are winners all-around. You get full, sweet crabmeat taste with tangy herbs and just a hint of mustard. The source recipe calls for normal breadcrumbs, but I used Panko both because I already had it in the cupboard and also because I was curious as to how it would compliment (or ruin) the recipe. I’m very happy to say the Panko worked out perfectly: you get its support in structure without tasting a lot of filler. I suppose you could even skip the fresh herbs in favor of seasoned Panko if you really want to simplify things, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The fresh herbs really create a great flavor you wouldn’t find in dried seasoning.

Both my brother (who orders crab cakes whenever possible, oily bricks or no) and my father (who is a very conscientious eater) gave this recipe a thumbs-up. My brother’s only complaint was that he thought a butter sauce would be better for seafood and didn’t like the lemon-dill sauce, but my father and I both really enjoyed the creamy-cool alternative to a heavy butter dip. Give it a try and tell me what you think!

Overall Enjoyment:   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

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