Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Salmon Two Ways

Just to qualify the title, I actually hate it when chefs cook things 'two ways' or 'three ways' or 'seventeen ways'' or whatever. It's clever, it's precious and it's unnecessary. That kind of cooking is just not my scene. Nevertheless, I did indeed cook something two ways tonight: one for the grown ups and one for the kids. I'm not indulging my daughters' fussiness. Trust me, I have sent them to bed more than once without any dinner because they decided they didn't like what I had cooked...and our home is not  a restaurant with a choice of multiple dishes... and that's final! (Rest assured, it happens rarely, and the next day they always  eat an extra helping of breakfast - honestly, I'm not an ogre).

Anyway, I don't really want to get into the politics of feeding kids (and trust me there are plenty of politics), but I do know that kids have different, possibly more tentative palates than us grown ups. If all it takes to get fish and vegetables into them is to be a little restrained on the spices, skip the herb garnishes and to keep the components separate on the plate, so be it. Anyway, here is my approach to salmon two ways:

Here are the two fillets just before going in the oven
Salmon number one - kid-friendly version - take a salmon fillet, brush on olive oil, sprinkle with salt and bake in a hot 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Serve with homemade tartar sauce, i.e. mayonnaise folded with finely chopped cornichons and capers.

Salmon number two - grown-up version. Take another salmon fillet, slather it with Dijon mustard and then shake over coarsely cracked black pepper, whole carraway seeds, whole fennel seeds and plenty of rock salt. Bake for the same amount of time as the kids' salmon.

If you can believe it, I unintentionally made potatoes two ways as well, but these were meant to be enjoyed by both child and adult - potatoes one - roasted white mini-potatoes and potatoes two - diced roasted sweet potato with lots of sage. Not much to it, but one little trick that I think is worth noting, when roasting smallish potatoes, split them in half, and cook in a hot oven, but make sure that the first half of the roasting time, keep the cut side up. The cut side is wet and starchy. If it touches the pan it will stick. Trust me it will stick so well that you'll lose that beautiful brown crust. If cooked cut-half-up for the first 20 minutes or so, the wet, starchy side will dry out and once flipped, it will brown beautifully without sticking.

The grown up salmon roasted off with the potatoes on the sidelines

Anyway in the end, the mustard salmon was even better than I thought it would be. Carraway seeds and salmon are a naturally pairing and I just couldn't stop eating it. The kids loved their plain old salmon too.

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