Tag Archives: salmon

Pan-Seared Watermelon with Salmon and Mint Chimichurri

15 Aug


seared watermelon salmon mint chimichurri

Last fall, I picked up a copy of Mark Bittman’s then-new book, The Food Matters Cookbook. I was feeling like my diet needed a bit of a shakeup, and I was drawn to Bittman’s philosophy, which essentially boils down to the idea that meat can and should be used as an ingredient, or a garnish, in a dish rather than as the main event. I love meat and can’t see myself going the vegetarian route, so the ideas and recipes in Bittman’s book struck a chord with me.

Of course, I also have a bad habit of buying cookbooks, flipping through them, and then promptly putting them away in my kitchen and forgetting about them for an extended period. This one suffered such a fate until I pulled it out this weekend for a look and something caught my eye that I’d never tasted, and frankly didn’t even realize was possible—seared watermelon.

In Mark Bittman’s recipe, the seared watermelon was used as a base for a Japanese-inspired fish dish. He wrote that the watermelon took on a substantial steak-like texture when it was seared, as the water was pulled out of it. I knew I needed to try this, but in my mind, I saw the watermelon paired with salmon (rather than the simple white fish Bittman recommends) and topped with a simple, fresh mint and basil chimichurri, since the flavours of watermelon and mint go so great together.

Jenny and I both agreed that this really turned out amazing. In addition to becoming less watery and firmer when seared, the sugars in the watermelon also caramelize in the pan, which adds a bit of a burnt sugar element. And while this looks like an elaborate, composed dish on the plate, it came together in no time at all—perfect for a weeknight.

pan seared watermelon

Pan-seared watermelon with salmon and mint-basil chimichurri

For the chimichurri:

1 C basil leaves, packed
¼ C mint leaves, packed
¼ C olive oil (good oil, like a Spanish – oil will be part of flavour so it should be good quality)
Zest and juice of half a lemon
A couple grinds of salt and pepper

Place all ingredients and half the olive oil in a food processor. Pulse for a minute or two until leaves get chopped and ingredients are well blended. Add more olive oil as needed, depending on desired consistency (less oil for a thicker chimichurri, more for a thinner one).

For the pan-seared watermelon:

Slice watermelon an inch or two thick and remove the rind. Season slices with a pinch of salt. Heat a metal pan coated with a small amount of olive oil over medium-high heat for several minutes. When oil begins to sizzle, place watermelon slices in pan. Leave to sear for two minutes or so, until it begins to brown, then flip and cook another two minutes on the other side. Remove from heat and set aside on a plate.

For the salmon:

Season individually portioned salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Sear on both sides in a hot pan until cooked, a few minutes per side.

To plate, place a slice of seared watermelon on a plate, top with a salmon fillet, then drizzle chimichurri overtop the salmon.

seared watermelon salmon chimichurri

Panko and Wasabi-crusted Salmon with Ponzu Soy Reduction

5 Jul

Panko salmon ponzu reduction

Salmon has a pretty regular place on our dinner table. It’s good for us, the flavour of the fish pairs well with a lot of other ingredients, and it holds up well to a variety of cooking styles (not to mention that it’s pretty forgiving if you accidentally cook it too long!) 

Of course, as with anything else, the more we eat salmon, the more we look for new and different ways to prepare it. A few nights ago, the salmon filets in our fridge and my craving for sushi-like flavours conspired to lead me toward creating something new, while still being quick and easy.

By combining a layer of wasabi paste with a crunchy panko crust, and serving the salmon with a ponzu soy reduction, I managed to fairly successfully duplicate the taste of a maki roll, while cutting out most of the carbs of a sushi dinner. Jenny decided to make a simple salad of thinly sliced fennel and orange segments, tossed with the juice of half an orange, a little olive oil and some vinegar, which was light, summery and complemented the main dish nicely.

Panko salmon

Wasabi and Panko-Crusted Salmon with Ponzu Soy Reduction

For the salmon:

Rub one side of skinless salmon filets with a thin layer of wasabi paste.

Coat the wasabi-rubbed side with a generous amount of panko bread crumbs, pressing the panko gently into the salmon to ensure it sticks well. 

Coat a pan with a thin layer of olive oil, and heat over medium-high heat for several minutes. When pan is hot, place salmon filets panko side down, and cook about four minutes, until panko starts to brown and develop a nice crust. Flip over and cook another three or four minutes.

For the reduction:

Add 1/3 cup of ponzu soy sauce, 1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice, 1/3 cup of gin and the zest of half a lemon to a small sauce pot over medium-high heat. Allow liquid to come to a gentle boil, then turn heat down to low and simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes or until the amount of liquid has reduced by at least a third. (Resist the urge to walk away – keep watching and stirring regularly, in case the liquid starts to boil again and you’re left with a sticky, useless mess).

Plate the salmon and top with a drizzle of the ponzu soy reduction. Serve alongside the fennel-orange salad.

Baked Salmon with Ponzu, Shallots and Lemon Zest

17 Aug

Baked salmon with mango salsa

As a summer filled with weddings, birthdays, family gatherings and other excuses to gorge on delicious food slowly winds to a close, Jenny and I have vowed to start eating healthy. I like to think we eat pretty healthy already, so healthy eating in this case means things like more veggies and less fat, and less eating out and more cooking at home. I’m definitely up for the challenge. Of course, I’m also writing this in between bites of pizza, so it’s clear my definition of ‘healthy’ will vary from day to day.

One of the things I like to cook when I’m on a healthy eating kick is fish, and specifically salmon. It’s easy to cook, versatile, flavourful, and has just enough fat to make my brain think it’s not as healthy as it is. And one of my favorite methods of preparing salmon is to wrap it in foil and bake it. Few healthy recipes are easier at the end of a busy day than turning on the oven, wrapping a piece of salmon in foil with a few spices and other ingredients, and letting it do its thing while you let your brain disengage.

On my most recent foray into salmon baking, a quick rummage through my cupboards and a bit of inspiration led to a flavour combo that I hadn’t tried before, but one that I’ll definitely be making again: ponzu soy sauce,  shallots and lemon zest. It’s a natural pairing, really, with the salty and citrusy ponzu soy complementing the bitter citrus of the zest, and the shallots adding more sweetness and acidity. We topped the salmon with a great mango-tomato salsa that Jenny made, and paired it with a simple salad.

For the mango-tomato salsa:

Dice several grape tomatoes (or one larger tomato) into small pieces. Peel a mango and dice into small pieces. Dice a small jalapeno pepper, and remove some/all of the seeds if you’re not keen on too much heat. Combine tomatoes, mango and jalapeno in a bowl, and add a sprinkle of salt and a generous splash of tequila. Stir, cover and let salsa sit while you prepare the salmon.

For the salmon:

Turn oven to 375 C. Lay salmon fillets on a large piece of aluminum foil (you want the foil large enough so you can wrap it tightly around the salmon). Drizzle ponzu soy over top of fillets; I used a fairly generous amount, while still keeping in mind that it’s high in sodium. Chop 1 large or 2 small shallots into thin slices, and sprinkle over top salmon fillets. Using a microplane, finely zest a lemon over top of salmon so zest covers as much of the surface area of the salmon as possible.

Baked salmon in foil

Fold edges of foil tightly together to create a ‘parcel’ enclosing the salmon. Lay salmon parcels on a baking sheet and place in oven for 20 minutes. (Many foil-baked salmon recipes say to cook for 10-15 minutes at 400 C or higher, but I prefer to cook at a lower heat for longer to lessen the risk of overcooking, and to let the flavours develop better).

To plate, simply place one salmon fillet on each plate and top with a spoonful of the mango salsa.

Let us know some of your favorite quick, healthy recipes. I’m going to need some more new ones if I’m going to keep eating right and avoiding the pizza!

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