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Looking for a quick dinner that requires only a handful of ingredients?  Look no further. [Fine, I burned it slightly.  M would not approve.  But it still tasted great.]

I've been keeping track of my diet recently-not for any insidious objective like calorie restriction-and noticed that in the course of a month, I eat very little fish or fruit.  Fruit I understand.  My body has rejected fruits by way of inflammatory response over the last five years.  But fish?  I don't love fish the way M does, but I can eat it without having to go to the hospital.  Still, I had this uneasy feeling that preparing fish was smelly and difficult.

But secretly, I wanted to learn how to cook fish, and The Kitchn came to my aid with this salmon recipe.  I tweaked it based on the ingredients I had, and it proved at least one of my fears wrong.  This salmon is very, very good. 

I used farm-raised salmon, even though M said he prefers wild.  According to M, wild salmon is less oily than farm-raised, but I wasn't ready to fork over nearly $30/lb.  Oh Whole Foods.  Sometimes you gouge my heart.

The fish is, of course, flavorful, but for me, it's the vinaigrette that makes this meal.  The scallion brings a piquant kick, the lemon juice the acid, and the cilantro an integral brightness.  [If you're one of those people who hates cilantro (maybe it's not your fault), you can leave it out.  But for me, the more cilantro, the merrier.

Finally, I substituted polenta for couscous, and I think I prefer this thick, creamy base.  It soaks up the vinaigrette and lends a pleasant enveloping texture to the flaky salmon.

The Kitchn blogger sums it up nicely: "[I]t's something I'd order in a restaurant, and at a fraction of the price."

* Now there is a lingering fish smell in my entire apartment.  How do I get rid of it?  Opening the doors and windows hasn't entirely helped.  I've already taken out the trash.

Salmon with Scallion and Cilantro Vinaigrette

Serves 2-3


1 medium to large salmon fillet, skin removed
1 cup dry polenta
Salt and pepper
A few tablespoons olive oil
1/4-1/2 cup cilantro
1-2 scallions, thinly sliced
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

How To:

  1. POLENTA | Start here, since polenta takes a while to cook.  Add 1 cup polenta to 3 cups boiling water and cook until it has absorbed the water, about 25 minutes.  Add 1-2 tbsp. butter toward the end, if you wish.

  2. FISH | Season your salmon with salt, pepper, and paprika.  Heat a small amount of olive oil over medium high heat in a pan.  Cook your salmon about 3-4 minutes on each side.  

    [Avoid excess oil, since the fish is already somewhat oily.  Using a nonstick pan helps, but I used stainless steel, which gave the fish a nice crust but, then again, almost burned it.]

  3. VINAIGRETTE | While your fish is cooking, mix the sliced scallions, cilantro, lemon juice, and olive oil together in a bowl.  You can chop the cilantro if you want, but I left it whole.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 

    [The Kitchn calls for equal parts lemon juice and olive oil, but I prefer more acid, so my lemon:oil ratio was probably 2:1.

  4. SERVE | Plate polenta on a large plate.  Add your salmon fillet.  Drizzle the vinaigrette over the top, and serve.


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