Dec. 1st, 2011

invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Default)
It’s hardly a secret to anyone who knows me – my mother couldn’t cook. I was raised to believe in “women’s work”, and that cooking was among it. I shouldn’t have had to know how; after all, I’d have a wife to do it for me! My first particularly strong food memory was of badly overcooked spinach, “improved” with way too much butter, salt, and pepper. Then force-fed; I was about six or seven. I still haven’t acquired a taste for the stuff. Maybe someone will try to convince me yet, but years of my parents giving me Popeye cartoons to watch didn’t change my opinion (although the cartoons were fun!).

Food didn’t get better as I got older and I was progressively turned off to many foods I now quite enjoy today. Notable among them was salmon – my first exposure was canned salmon. It was mashed up, horribly over-salted, and vaguely resembled cat food. Having tasted the Fancy Feast I feed my cats I can quite honestly say that stuff tastes better than what this did – and I didn’t cook the Fancy Feast! Maybe that was the problem; my mother “cooked” it...

Then my wife came along. Many, many years of what passed for eating in my house left me about five foot six and about a hundred and fifty five pounds – and emaciated. I was pretty scary looking. I think she was determined to change my mind as to what a healthy weight was (she tells me not exactly), but definitely as to what good food was. She’s a horrible influence, getting me into drinking fancy coffee, wine (oh, the horror! Liquid devil!), and other such worldly pursuits.

So with relearning that cheese didn’t have to be imitation pasteurized process cheese food product, that not all coffee was similar to Folgers’ Crystals, and that there were more than two spices, along came the lesson that there was room for men to cook in household kitchens. I started small – the microwave. I can’t quite say I burned water, but even today I don’t always time things quite right. I learned that I actually had some natural talent where meat and fish was concerned, more than just following recipes. So I started following some recipes – no sense reinventing the wheel!

With the recipe practice I learned some of the theory behind combining ingredients, and more importantly the process of working in the kitchen – what my mother had so desperately tried to keep me from doing. I was moving forward in my own way, discovering for myself something many people had a joy in, but that I had been denied for her own selfish reasons. Perhaps it was just as well I didn’t learn from her bad example!

As fate would have it though, my wife’s favorite breakfast pastry is Panera’s spinach and bacon soufflé. I don’t make things with spinach in them, nor do I seek them out, but I can manage to stomach raw spinach in a salad if presented to me. Cooked spinach is right out. Ah well, can’t win them all.

I would not leave you on that note, however. Allow me, instead, to enrich your palate with the fruits of years of experimentation on salmon. When shopping for salmon I suggest sockeye if available – it has a very rich flavor that balances very well with these preparations. Note that many stores do not fully de-bone sockeye – check to see if yours is. If it isn't you'll need to spend a few extra minutes going over yours before you begin preparing it.

My original recipe is a wine glazed salmon. I will soak the fish in the wine for a few hours prior to cooking. Pre-warm a small sauté pan, filling it with the wine so that it covers about half of the filet. The objective is through skillful cooking and careful attention to pan-sear the fish at the same time the wine cooks off, leaving a glaze. At the very end baste the fish in the glaze and serve with your preferred sides, rice pilaf and vegetables being traditional. The wine used for the salmon makes a good complement, but also consider a pilsner or witbier. My very favorite wine is a local Granny Smith Riesling – we joke that I’ll eat just about anything with apple in it!

Another favorite is an Asian-inspired salmon. Pan-sear as you would any other fish, but your glaze instead is sweet and sour sauce. Because you don’t have to carefully time your glaze this preparation is considerably easier – just focus on cooking the fish to a proper temperature. Add sesame seeds while you glaze. Stir-fry goes great with this – if you’re going all-out and have a good butcher get him/her to cut the lean pieces off the sirloin and pan-sear them hibachi-style with the same sweet and sour! Plum wine is a natural choice to accompany your meal.

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invisionary: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist." (Default)
Invisible Revolutionary

December 2011

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