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:   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

Tilapia Piccata

In my quest to balance my growing love of cooking with the growing demands of school, I snatched up a copy of Cooking Light’s 5 Ingredient 15 Minute Recipes from this fall. I’m usually skeptical of recipes claiming minimal ingredients for rather fancy dishes because, more often than not, their “ingredients” are prepared store-bought shortcuts – Sandra Lee style. Now I don’t mean to offend anyone; semi-home made is better than fast food or takeout any day when you are faced with only thirty minutes to feed your family. My personal goal though is not only to feed myself, but to improve my cooking skills in the process. Therefore convenient shortcuts like using store-bought white sauce or frozen patties really won’t help me any. I’m trying to find recipes that use a minimal number of unprocessed ingredients to make simple but delicious dishes. Luckily, I found one.

Now, I suppose you could debate whether or not capers count as a “processed food”. I did not pick and pickle the berries myself (by the way, did you know how beautiful caper flowers are?? I had no idea), so I guess I cheated a bit there. You’ll have to forgive me. 😉 Overall I was very impressed with this and other recipes I found in the magazine and how many of them use only raw ingredients. You’ll see more of them in the future for sure.

Tilapia Piccata (adapted from 5 Ingredient 15 Minute Recipes, Fall ’10)

Ingredients:

½   lb   angel hair pasta

2    6-oz tilapia fillets (or other white fish)

1     T   EVOO, plus a teaspoon or so

¼   t   salt

¼   t   freshly ground black pepper

½   C   dry white wine

2     T   fresh lemon juice, reserve a few slices of lemon

2     T   capers

2     T   chopped fresh herbs (like parsley or thyme)

Procedure:

  1. Heat the 1 Tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. While pan is heating, season fillets with salt and pepper. Add fillets to pan and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side, until slightly browned and cooked through. Remove fish from pan and keep warm.
  2. As fish is cooking, bring a large sauce pot of lightly salted water to boil and add pasta. Every few minutes, test pasta for doneness as light pasta such as angel hair cooks quite fast. Strain pasta when it tastes ever-so-slightly under-cooked. Place pasta in a bowl, toss with a teaspoon or so of EVOO, and set aside. As long as you don’t rinse with cold water it will continue cooking to al dente.
  3. Add wine and juice to fish pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for a few minutes or until slightly thickened, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.
  4. Stir in capers and herbs and remove from heat. Plate pasta, overlay the fish, and spoon sauce over the whole dish. Garnish with a few slices of lemon and enjoy with the left-over wine. 🙂

Beezer’s Notes:

This dinner was one of the best I’ve cooked for myself in a long time. It’s healthy, quick, and easy! I’m trying to work more fish into my diet so this twist on a dish traditionally made with chicken was a tasty choice.

The source recipe called for snapper, but since I already had tilapia in the freezer I didn’t think twice about subbing it in. I’ve never had snapper, but I’m guessing it is slightly more meaty than tilapia and maybe has a bit more flavor. I think any white fish will work great in this recipe, so use what you prefer. Also, for the same amount of sauce the source recipe called for 4 of the 6-oz. fish fillets. I was cooking only for myself so I used 2 fillets without reducing anything else, making enough for dinner plus one leftover meal. I found that amount of sauce to be absolutely perfect for 2 fillets and my pasta. I may just like more sauce than normal, but since the flavor is so light I feel like it’s almost necessary. Try it out and tell me what you think!

Overall Enjoyment: ♥    ♥    ♥

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