Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Smoked Salmon

Part of this past Sunday's Company Dinner was some wild caught salmon. This was given to Andy with the instructions to try smoking 20 degree weather. Even though the weather wasn't ideal for breaking out the Weber, he forged ahead with his plan. The tough part was coming up with a rub for the dish. After a long while, he finally found one by Cheryl and Bill Jamison that fit the bill perfectly. This looked simple enough, put the rub on the dish, and cook on the smoker, mopping with a vinegar solution if desired.

The rub took about two seconds to put together and get on the fish. While the recipe says to let the rub sit overnight, we only had a few hours. Fortunately, these were smalls almon fillets, so the timing worked out perfectly. Had we wanted to, we probably could have used the Foodsaver Marinator to give the illusion of more time, but what he did worked. He rubbed the fish about 3 hours before cooking, and he did use the optional mop. The mop used a portion of the spice rub, vinegar, and oil, and was to be brushed on the fish twice. He went back and forth about using it, but in the end decided to do so, and it was the perfect decision.

The fish turned out perfectly. The dill and brown sugar in the rub made a perfect marriage of flavors with the salmon. And the vinegar in the mop cut into the richness of the salmon and gave it a wonderful tang. If you didn't use the mop, I would strongly recommend squeezing some lemon juice over the fish because the acid was a necessary component. This salmon was so good, our friend who is a professed non-fish eater tried a bite and thought it was really good- I think she even went back for seconds. And while the wild caught salmon was probably perfect for the recipe, I bet you could use store-bought salmon with success. Check out this recipe for Kingly Smoked Salmon if you're wanting to try out the smoker. This does make fresh smoked fish that needs to be eaten- this is not a recipe for cold-smoked salmon, which is a method of preserving, and makes what is known as lox in many places.Even though we all enjoyed it, there was a lot leftover. In my experience, fish doesn't re-heat very well, but I thought it worth trying with this salmon. And I am beyond glad that I did. Last night, the kids had a meal that was a treat for them- chicken nuggets, french fries, and fresh veggies. And while I could have had the same thing, I decided the healthier decision would be to try and create something with the leftover salmon. When I looked at the salmon in the fridge, a jar of porcini pesto caught my eye, as did a box of barley in the pantry. It wasn't long before I had the barley cooking in a saucepan with a few tablespoons on the porcini pesto.

The porcini pesto was a gift from a friend at Christmas Time from one of my favorite gourmet food companies, Bella Cucina. It is so deep and earthy, I thought the barley and pesto would combine to form a sort of pilaf that would be a perfect foil to the smoked fish. At the very end of the barley's cooking time (it was long cooking, so it took almost an hour) I placed a portion of the salmon on top of the barley pilaf and put the cover on the pan, trapping in the heat and essentially steaming the fish back to life. It worked like magic. I had a fantastic dinner from leftovers that really took no effort, just time. And it was infintely better for me than the chicken nuggets and french fries would have been. So my little bit of weigh-in Wednesday advice today is to make smart choices at meal time. Sometimes it is worth it to go out of your way to make two meals, rather than just eat what everyone else is eating. And oftentimes, you get the better end of that deal.


Mimi said...

I've been obsessed with salmon lately, eating it twice a week.

But really, chicken nuggets sound good. too.

Erika said...

I tire of salmon very quickly, so we don't have it near often enough.

And yes, chicken nuggets sound good to me a lot!