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