Salmon Two Ways:
I was on the lookout for “The Gateway Salmon.” You know, the one that can convert guests who you want to invite to dinner, but don’t like salmon. It’s always a sad moment, when you ask the obligatory hostess question: “Is there anything you don’t eat?” And they answer with the one food you’ve been desperately craving. And for some odd reason, I’ve been craving salmon constantly lately.
The challenge: To find a recipe that highlights the deliciousness of salmon while hiding the fishy, oily taste that turns some people off to my favorite fish. I decided to go with the trendy “two ways” manner of cooking, so that if one recipe failed to delight the other would sneak in win some taste buds. Turns out, they were both winners, though one version was crowned as the more addictive of the two. If all else failed, I served my fish with sweet potato fries, broccoli and corn for a back-up vegetarian feast.
A little research prior to “go-time” convinced me to purchase Costco’s frozen salmon, in single serve packets with 4% salt solution. If you judge me for going with frozen over fresh, read this article, which helped me choose a universally palatable choice for my “hopeful converts.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/farmed-vs-wild-salmon-can-you-taste-the-difference/2013/09/23/3a2650a2-1fcb-11e3-8459-657e0c72fec8_story.html
This choice had me defrosting salmon, which was very quick compared with chicken. Throw the wrapped salmon friends in a bowl of water for 30 minutes. Then refrigerate if you’re not cooking until later. Or salt and pepper, then leave out until room temperature- about 30 more minutes. Either way, make sure those babies are salted, peppered and close to room temp when you begin cooking.
While you prep the salmon, leave the oven at 400 degrees and heat up a pan on the stove that can be placed the oven safely as well.
Salmon Two Ways (Four filets: 2-4 servings depending on how hungry your guests are!)
Way #1: Brown sugar & Chipotle Rub:
1. Make a rub for two pieces of salmon:
· Two TBS brown sugar
· One TBS Chili Powder
· Pinch of cumin
· Pinch (or slightly more) of chipotle powder (I used a pinch but was wishing for even more smoky heat!)
2. Don’t rub it on yet!!! J
Way #2: Lemon & Dill with honey mustard dill sauce
1. Zest a lemon and chop up some fresh dill for the salmon (Again, don’t put it on the fish yet)
2. Make a dip: (Not an exact science, but play until it’s good!)
· Two heaping TBS of sour cream OR plain Greek yogurt (I used this because it’s all I had, and I liked the extra tang)
· One TBS of Dijon mustard
· Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
· Sprinkle of white balsamic vinegar (not essential but a nice addition)
· Fresh dill and honey (add some of both until it tastes pleasing to you)
All salmon filets start the same way: A simple salt and pepper. When pan is nice and hot over medium high, add olive oil. Place all filets (don’t crowd the pan!) and let them sizzle for 2-3 minutes until it’s gettin’ golden. Flip to the other side and immediately add some flavor. On half of the filets, I sprinkled lemon zest and fresh dill. On the other half, I rubbed with the brown sugar/ chipotle mix. Be liberal- my favorite bites were the heavy handed ones. Spoon some of the salmon oil on top of each filet (so the toppings don’t burn in the oven) and move the pan into the oven for 4-5 minutes for a medium doneness.
Finally, drizzle a bit of honey mustard sauce on top of the lemon dill patty. But be warned: We ended up using honey mustard on sweet potatoes, both salmon types and even broccoli because it was addictive. So you might want to make extra. The freshness of the zest, brightness of dill, and the salty/ peppery goodness caused this type of salmon to disappear first, though I suspect that if I had added more chipotle this may have gone just as fast. Both recipes will be on the repeat roster, and: Mission accomplished. Home-cooked salmon was enjoyed by all.