Friday, June 29, 2012

Ginger-Rubbed Salmon with Mustard Seeds and Sorrel

Quick, easy, and stupendously delicious...hello, salmon season. I've missed you.

Serve this over jasmine rice or jade pearl rice, with sauteed greens on the side.

12 oz wild salmon
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 small clove garlic, pressed
Mustard seeds
Onion blossoms
(or sub 1 scallion, thinly sliced)
Olive oil
1 cup chopped sorrel leaves
(about one third to half a bunch)

Sprinkle salmon generously with salt on both sides, and a little ground pepper on the non-skin side. Mash the garlic and ginger together, and then rub onto the fish (mostly on the non-skin side, and a little on the skin if you plan to eat it, which you should, because it will be amazing. Trust me). Sprinkle the non-skin side lightly with mustard seeds and the onion blossoms or scallion.

Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add a glug of olive oil and swirl to spread in the pan. Place the fish in the pan skin-side down, wait a moment, then shake to make sure it's not sticking.

Cook for several minutes, until the skin is golden-brown, then flip and cook for a minute until the fish has just a hint of gold to it (if it's a thick piece of salmon, you may have to cook it for a couple minutes on the non-skin side...or, keep it skin side down, and put a lid on the pan for a minute to help it cook through).

When the fish is medium-rare (still that darker shade of pink in the middle), serve onto a bed of rice. The trick is to catch it just before it's as cooked as you want it, since it will keep cooking a bit over the hot rice. The other trick is to eat it medium-rare, because medium-rare salmon is amazing.

Drizzle a little more olive oil in the pan, add the sorrel, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and toss to coat. Turn off the heat. Saute the sorrel, stirring, for about 20-30 seconds till it just starts to change color from a vibrant green to a darker olive tone. Pour over the salmon, and serve immediately.

Serves 2.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Easy Polenta with Prosciutto and Tomatoes

For when you're low on energy and motivation and just wish there was something easy to cook that would magically turn out comforting and healthy and gourmet, all at once. (If you do have energy, you can always substitute a chopped tomato and fresh spinach and throw in a little fresh basil. But this lazy version is pretty darn delicious as is.)

Ingredients (per person)
1/2 cup polenta/coarsely-ground cornmeal
1/3 can chopped tomatoes
1/3 cup organic frozen spinach*
2 slices prosciutto, in small pieces or strips
1/4 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
Olive oil, salt, and black pepper 

Heat 1 1/2 cups water in a small pot until it boils. Add the tomatoes, wait a moment for them to heat through, then sprinkle in the polenta, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Turn the heat down a little and simmer, stirring, for two minutes, then add the frozen spinach and a pinch of salt. Continue cooking and stirring for another two minutes or until spinach is completely defrosted and polenta begins to pull away from the side of the pan. (If the pot starts to dry out before the spinach is done, you can add a splash more water to slow things down.)

Turn off the heat, stir in most of the Parmesan and prosciutto, and serve. Drizzle with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with black pepper and the remaining prosciutto and cheese.

*Good-quality organic frozen spinach (I like Woodstock Farms) is pricier than regular frozen spinach, but worth it for the no-hassle prep and taste—you can usually just throw it into whatever you're cooking, rather than having to pre-cook and drain it to avoid that spinach-water flavor of most major brands.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Moonfish with Coconut Milk, Zucchini, and Chard

Coconut milk, ginger, and basil give this dish a Thai flair. You can use any fatty, mild white fish, or substitute chicken or tofu if you prefer. Serve over steamed rice cooked with a little sauteed shallot, and pair with a glass of Torrontes or Viognier.

Olive oil
8-10 oz moonfish (opah) or another fatty, mild white fish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise into thirds and then cut crosswise into strips
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, sliced
15  fresh basil leaves
2 handfuls young chard, beet greens, or spinach, sliced crosswise into ribbons
5-6 oz light coconut milk
1 tsp onion blossoms or one scallion, white and light green parts, thinly sliced

Rub each side of the fish with a pinch of ginger, and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. (You can cut it into cubes or leave it as a whole steak—whichever you prefer. Cubes will cook much more quickly, and will retain less of their own moisture but absorb more of the sauce. We left ours whole, just because it's easier.)

Heat a glug of olive oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the zucchini and stir a few times, then saute, stirring once or twice a minute, until it starts to turn golden brown in a few places. Add the garlic and a pinch of ginger and saute for a minute more, then add the basil leaves and saute for 10 seconds or until they have just wilted. Decant into a bowl and set aside.

Replace the pan over the heat and add another glug of olive oil. Add the fish and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until golden brown on the bottom, then flip and cook the other side until golden as well (if your fish is cubed, just brown one side and then skip to the next step).

Add the greens to the pan, sprinkle them with salt, and pour the coconut milk over the top of everything. Cover immediately, turn the heat down to medium-low, and steam for a minute or so until the greens start to wilt.

Uncover the pan, scatter the ginger over the greens, and stir to combine. Replace the cover and simmer until the fish is very nearly cooked through. (I can't tell with moonfish unless I cut it in half at some point to see how pink it still is in the middle, which is the other reason I like leaving it as one whole piece to start with...I end up cutting it in half or quarters by the time I'm done checking it.)

Add the zucchini back into the pan, sprinkle with the onion blossoms or scallion, and cook for about 30 seconds to reheat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, and serve immediately over rice.

Serves 2.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Purslane Salad with Tomatoes and Arugula

The sweetness of ripe tomatoes sets off the lemony taste of purslane in this summertime salad, while arugula and onion blossoms give it a little kick.

4 big handfuls purslane
2 handfuls baby arugula
1 cup ripe cherry tomatoes, halved crosswise and sprinkled with salt
1/2 onion blossom, pulled apart into strands (or sub 1-2 tbsp finely chopped spring onion or red onion)
Nasturtium flowers for garnish (optional)

Good-quality extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 large spoonful sherry vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper

Pinch or cut the purslane into bite-sized pieces, discarding the bottom of the stems if they seem at all tough when you break them (if the sprigs are on the small/young side, this won't be a problem). Wash gently and dry thoroughly in a salad spinner.

Whisk about 1/4 cup olive oil or a little more together with the rest of the vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl (you want an olive oil to lemon-and-vinegar ratio of about 3:1) until they form an emulsion.

Toss the purslane and arugula with the vinaigrette in a salad bowl. Scatter the tomatoes over the top and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with the onion blossoms and a little extra black pepper, and garnish with nasturtium flowers.

Serves 3-4.