Grilled Salmon

Team Dawmilam has salmon at least once a month. I could eat it much more often than that; it’s not only a delicious fish, but incredibly nutritious. A warning: one time I tried to make this particular type of salmon from frozen filets, and it was gross. I’m not sure if all frozen salmon is anti-tasty, but I err on the side of caution and, whenever I want salmon, I just go pick it up fresh from the grocery store, aiming to always pick up something that is fresh and not from frozen.

This recipe is simple, healthy, and easy. If you don’t have a grill, you can easily cook this on the stove following the same directions, but your house will definitely smell like salmon for at least 3 days. Plus, the grill imparts a delicious smokey flavor that you just can’t get from a stove, no matter what they tell you about using a grill pan on Food Network.

Grilled Salmon

(sorry, I didn’t take a picture of dinner before I dug in last time I made this. I was too hungry. So here’s a happy salmon to entertain you.)

First: go pick up some filets of salmon – the fresher, the better. It may cost you more, but it’s worth it. Aim for about 4 ounces per serving. I’ve been a big fan of keta salmon that’s been available at Harry’s in Marietta this summer; its flavor is a little milder than a lot of the salmon I’ve had before and it takes to this particular marinade really well. For the price point (it’s the cheapest fresh salmon available at Harry’s; picked it up for $11.99/pound last weekend), you can’t beat it. (If you’re super budget conscious these days, just go get Kroger salmon for $7.99/pound and still enjoy this recipe. Or do what my friend Dana did and have some salmon specially ordered and flown in overnight for a special treat if you’re interested in going all out. That sounded fantastic, D!)

Second: prepare a marinade. Combine about 1/3 cup soy sauce, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, juice of a lime, splash of rice wine vinegar, freshly grated ginger, and some oil in a small container. You can set aside a small portion of this particular sauce to heat up over the stove and pour on top of the cooked salmon as a sauce, if desired (and can increase the ingredients to make sure you have enough of said sauce; just do not reuse the marinade as a sauce after it’s been hanging out with the fish for any amount of time). Taste the marinade before you combine it with fish to correct seasoning. Is it too sweet? Add some vinegar or more lime juice. Too salty? Balance it out with sugar or honey. Pour marinade over 2 large filets of salmon, bones removed (that’s a total pain in the ass, too, so make sure you’ve got some wine waiting on you to help relax after the 20 minutes you spend picking salmon bones out of the flesh), and place in the refrigerator for however long you possibly can – 30 minutes to 3 hours.

Third: when you’re tired of waiting on your salmon to marinate, heat up the grill (I tend to crank it to about medium high), place salmon on an oiled sheet of tin foil, skin side down, for about 6 minutes. Flip to the other side, cook another 6 minutes. Remove from grill and enjoy! Serve with rice (white or brown), grilled asparagus, a side salad, broccoli, spinach, or any other green vegetable.

I usually dislike reheating seafood, but I will tell you that this particular dish reheats really well. Just be careful about reheating it in public so you don’t offend your co-workers with a lunch area that smells like the sea.

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Gourmet Tuesday

So this was our dinner last night:

It looks like a fancy-schmancy weekend meal, but I promise it’s really not.

Ok. I guess that’s sort of a lie. It is a fancy meal. But here, fancy does not mean hard or even really expensive. The only expensive ingredient in the entire meal was the prosciutto (discussion of that comes later). See, what happens to me in the summer (even when I’m busy teaching and with other random things that come my way) is I do lots of “fun” cooking. For some reason, it’s easier for me to justify doing a random gourmet meal in the middle of the week in the summer than it is any other time of the year.

So I based this meal mostly around the fact that we’d be going to town on some prosciutto, because I got a wild hair on my way home yesterday and just HAD to go to Whole Foods to get some to go with my cantaloupe that came with my farmer’s market basket last week. Never had prosciutto? It’s like ham, only way, way better.  I always get prosciutto di Parma, just because it’s fan-freaking-tastic. It’s a definite splurge – something like $25 per pound at my market – so use sparingly. This is a once or twice a year treat for Team Dawmilam. Get it sliced very, very thinly (paper thin, preferably) and get maybe .25-.3 pound at a time. This isn’t exactly something you “pile on” to a sandwich. Instead, you could place a couple pieces delicately on top of a slice of French bread that’s been lightly buttered (see bread off to the side on our little platter) (because, let me tell you, there’s nothing quite as decadent as pork fat on top of butter on top of fresh bread) or eat tiny bits of it with cantaloupe. For some reason, the sweetness of the melon combines perfectly with the salty prosciutto. I tried it with peaches (also on the platter), but the melon was much better. Oh, and there are some pieces of robusto cow’s milk cheese on the plate, too.

Given we had such a hearty appetizer, I sprung for a lighter meal. That’s what’s actually on the plate: a seared filet of tilapia atop a bed of wilted spinach drizzled with a lemon burre blanc. Y’all, really, it’s not hard to make. For the spinach, just throw a couple handfuls of fresh spinach in a nonstick pan with a pat of butter or oil, and some salt & pepper. Cook it over medium heat. It’ll reduce down quickly and amazingly well.

For the fish, take two tilapia filets (that are dirt cheap, by the way), rinsed & patted dry (and thawed if using from frozen). Sprinkle with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning (some sort of blend of rosemary, oregano, thyme, etc.). Cook 3 minutes per side on medium high heat in a nonstick pan with some butter & olive oil. Remove from pan, then replace pan on the heat. Immediately add another pat of butter, a squeeze of lemon juice, some white wine (just save some to drink with the meal), and about 1/4-1/3 cup heavy cream. Bring to a boil, stirring in at least 2 more tablespoons of butter, some more salt & pepper. The sauce will thicken up as it simmers, and it only takes a couple of minutes. Pour over the fish and the spinach, and enjoy.

Oh, and dessert was a puff pastry apple tart with salted caramel gelato. But I didn’t have time to take a picture of that one. We were too busy licking our plates. Maybe next time.

Tilapia with Mustard Cream Sauce

Oh my gosh, there is SO MUCH I need to be doing right now. Let’s make a list, so I’ll feel like I have some control over my life (isn’t that why I’m obsessed with list making?)

Random aside: after my last visit home, my mom sent me back with a trunk full of my old belongings. I found an old Hello Kitty notebook that I’d designated my “List of Books,” and in alphabetical order, I had written all the books I’d read up to that point in my life, or at least the ones I could remember. I’m sure it was a well-thought-out summer project that took a considerable amount of time. I can’t really explain it, but seeing it made my life today make much more sense. Back to my current list:

Things I Should Be Doing At This Very Moment But Am Not:

*paying attention to the cat (she’s sitting on the couch watching me very closely)

*packing for the beach

*responding to email from Important People I Work With

*calling Casey back

*writing anniversary and birthday cards

*finishing laundry

*paying more attention to the cat

*watching “I Love You, Philip Morris” (just got it from Netflix!)

*doing work for a search committee I’m part of this summer

*reading my latest issue of BUST magazine

*preparing lesson plans for this fall’s Mass Media course (cannot wait)

*hydrating (didn’t drink my entire 3 liters of water today, which is my normal summer day consumption quotient)

*formulating my next research project

*working on publications

*going to bed

Instead, I’m blogging. It’s a much better option right now, because I just have to tell you about what I made for dinner tonight, adding it to the list of things you can make in a hurry and relatively inexpensively and in a somewhat healthy fashion. I knew I wanted tilapia – we haven’t had it this month, and it’s one of those things that serves as a good protein base for a number of “what’s in the pantry” style side dishes, which is what I was facing tonight. I knew I had leftover rice, a zucchini, 2 yellow squash, and my usual pantry/fridge staples (which are, admittedly, varied). I debated frying up the zucchini and squash – let me tell you, it’s hard to say no to fried squash – but went for a quick and healthy sautee, which was a little too much fun to prepare since I decided to go all Mario Batali on it and not stir the veggies but rather toss them up in the air to ensure even cooking. It’s the most bad-ass thing I’ve done in some time.

The rice was nuked in the microwave, and the fish and sauce were done at the same time as my veggies. The fish was the most complicated, and it took about 10 minutes. Hooray for tilapia – a broke grad student staple and also one of my favorite lean proteins!

Tilapia w/Mustard Cream Sauce (for 2 people)

Take 3 tilapia filets, rinse and pat dry. (If you’re using them from a frozen pack, allow to thaw in cold water or in the fridge during the day, then rinse & dry). Season both sides with salt, pepper and an Italian seasoning blend (mine is a simple Kroger brand Italian spice variety). Preheat a nonstick skillet with some olive oil & butter over medium-high heat. Cook filets 3-4 minutes on each side, until they are golden brown. Remove from pan, set aside and cover with tin foil to keep warm while you make the sauce.

In the same pan in which you cooked the fish, make the sauce. With the heat on medium low, add about 1/3 cup heavy cream and 1/2 – 1 tablespoon grainy mustard. Stir to combine, bringing cream to a low simmer – shouldn’t take more than about 2 minutes. Squeeze in the juice of about half a lemon; stir and combine. Pour over filets and enjoy!

Tilapia Tacos in Corn Tortillas

Dear Flour Tortillas,

It’s over. It’s not you – it’s me. I’ve cheated on you twice already, with your cousin, Corn Tortilla. I used corn tortillas in a pork & spinach enchilada casserole dish about two months ago, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them since. I cheated again last week when I, once again, used corn tortillas in my roasted chicken enchiladas. Tonight’s dinner was the last straw. The way the corn tortillas cackled as I held them gently with my tongs (thanks, Dave, for reminding me I should use tongs while dealing with an open flame) and got them all black and crispy in preparation for the delicious tilapia and homemade guacamole I consumed for dinner… well… it’s just no longer fair to you to act like you’re my favorite.

I should’ve listened to the Mexican waiters back at Laredo’s in Auburn. My favorite entree – two soft tacos – by default came wrapped in corn tortillas. And I used to get strange looks when I requested that mine come in flour tortillas instead. In fact, when given the choice over the last several years, I’ve chosen you, flour tortillas, over the more traditional corn. But, I doubt I’ll be doing that much more from here on out.

We can still be friends. I expect to keep you in my fridge and use you in semi-frequent quesadilla making. But, I’m moving on. My new love is the corn tortilla. I hope you understand.

Sincerely,

LBDelicous

And what recipe was it that turned me into a corn tortilla lover?

tilapiatacosTilapia Tacos (for 2 people)

Take 3 small tilapia filets (thaw if using frozen, as I did)

Rinse and pat them dry. Sprinkle on some salt, chili powder, cumin & dried oregano on both sides. Cook in a nonstick pan preheated over medium-high heat with a tablespoon of olive oil, 3 minutes per side.

Divide up and place in corn tortillas. Hold tortillas (with tongs) over a gas flame until they get toasted and warm. Top with cheese, guacamole, sour cream, cilantro (of course, optional), and enjoy.

What’s that delicious pile of golden goodness off to the side in my picture?

Roasted Corn with Chili Lime Butter

First: let about half a stick of butter come to room temperature (or, if you’re like me and impatient, gently heat it in the microwave on super low power until it’s mashable). Using a fork, mix together with the zest of one lime and some chili powder. Set aside.

For the corn: Preheat a grill. Shuck 4 ears of corn. Sprinkle with oil. Grill about 12 minutes, until the corn is nice & charred all around. Remove kernels from cob with a knife, place in bowl. Toss with the chili lime butter.