Brain food. That's what it's called, or at least that's what I call it. Omega 3 fatty acid. It has been a while since we've had salmon, and so when hubby called yesterday saying he had to go to Sam's Club, among the things I told him to buy was salmon.
So, salmon he did buy. A big one too. All that was missing was its head. And guts, skin, bones of course. It was a filleted salmon, alhamdulillah.
I took it out of the freezer and shoved it in the fridge last night, planning to cook it today. As is with every raw meat, chicken, fish, and seafood, I fretted over how to cook it. I used to make weekly menus, but with growing children whose appetites are also growing, it has become quite unpredictable. So unpredictable that making a weekly menu is more trouble than it's worth. I have even at times told them,
"Don't eat too much, or I'll have to cook again tomorrow!"
Of course hubby would just say,
"Just eat tuna or something."
I see the sensibility of his suggestion, but those who know me well, also know that I like to torture myself. Maybe I have this guilt-ridden dogged responsibility of making homemade food for my family all the time, despite wishing I can just lay the guilt ridden responsibility aside on some days and plunge into the world of processed and junk food with careless abandon. Maybe when they're all grown up and married off, I will do that. However, I have a feeling that I have my dear mother's traits. As she now indulges in her many hobbies, that are amazingly the same as mine, or should I say mine are the same as hers, so do I, though on a much smaller, thus hectic scale, as I'm also juggling many other things at the same time.
And like my mother, despite the trouble, I thoroughly enjoy the fruits of that labor when it's all done and over with. Much like giving birth, eh?
Before I dive into my world of metaphors and analogy, let me divert us back to this salmon, who once probably leapt out of the rushing rivers, fighting its current, and dove back into the frothing body of water.
I had dropped off the girls at the masjid for their Arabic class, then drove to the Dona Ana County Extension Office to pick up the 4-H & FFA Expo book, and then headed to the public library before driving back to the masjid to pick the girls up. On the way home, I asked them,
"How should I cook the salmon?"
I honestly do not remember what transpired after that question, but somehow, we arrived at the decision to simply bake the salmon after rubbing it with black pepper and salt. I was happy with that decision, because it doesn't require much work.
Because my eldest daughter was the one who for the most part supported this, I told her, (trying to kill two birds with one stone)
"Skee, I want you to do this and I will show you how, because it's so easy to do."
I prepared the broiling pan, and preheated the oven while she washed the thawed salmon.
In the beginning, I had decided on only black pepper and salmon, and key limes since we have a bagful of them. But being me, I couldn't resist adding more to that combination of spices, so I added ground cumin and turmeric.
Before long, we had a beautiful slab of salmon baking in the oven, though we had to cut off the tail end of it since it couldn't fit on the broiler pan.
I call this dish Salmon On A Whim because that's truly what it was, and alhamdulillah it turned out so picture perfect that I couldn't resist plating it and spending a few minutes, which probably seemed like ages to my hungry children, photographing it. The measurements are quite approximates because as the name denotes, it was done on a whim.
Salmon On A Whim
1 slab of filleted salmon
1/4 - 1/2 C cooking oil
1 Tbs+ black pepper
1/2 Tbs+ ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp+ salt
3-5 fresh basil leaves
2 fresh red chillies, sliced thinly at an angle
6-7 key limes
1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. Line a broiling pan with aluminum foil and brush it with oil generously
3. Place the salmon carefully. If it is too long for the pan, cut it to size and place the cut piece on the pan too. It can be 'connected' to the main body later on.
4. Smear oil on the salmon, top and bottom (or if you're more civilized than me, use a brush)
5. One by one, pour the spices onto your cupped palm and gently rub them on the salmon, top and bottom. Or you can also combine the spices together in a bowl and rub the salmon with this spice combo.
6. Sprinkle with salt
7. Pop in the oven and bake until it is done, about 10-20 minutes
8. Switch the oven from bake to broil and broil for about 5 minutes or till top of salmon is slightly browned. When we did ours, the edges browned to a crisp, which provided that wonderful crunch.
9. Take salmon out of the oven. Immediately squeeze 4-5 halved key limes, literally dousing it with key lime juice. Garnish with sliced chillies and basil leaves.
10. Oh, and don't forget to 'piece' them back together if you had to cut it to fit the pan. (Ignore this if you think that is too much)
- For a Malaysian experience, make a dipping sauce by combining salty soy sauce (about 2 -4 tsp) with a few squirts of the lime juice and sliced chillies. You can dip the bits of salmon meat in this sauce and eat it as is, or douse your bit of salmon with some of this sauce.
- Can be eaten with steaming white Jasmine rice or in a sandwich (not the whole slab of course!).