Saucy salmon, saving my marriage

I'm trying to sort of, kind of, a little bit, in a way, diet. Which isn't easy when you live in a house with Mr. Meat and Potatoes, who can eat four frozen pizzas a night and not gain a pound, and who married you primarily for your ability to make giant cheesy lasagnas with Italian sausage and garlic bread smeared with half a stick of butter. WHAT.

So I'm trying hard to concoct nightly meals that live up to both of our needs, which is no small feat. My husband slings beer all day and is ravenous when he walks in the door. He sits down at the table with a fork and a steak knife and shouts MEEEAAAAT until I flop a slab of something hot and brown in front of him. I mean, that's what it seems like in my head. More accurately, he wanders around aimlessly, opening the refrigerator door and standing behind me at the stove anxiously, trying not to eat handful after handful of spicy Doritos because he knows I will scream at him to STOP SPOILING HIS DINNER, because yes, I have turned into my mother.

So what I need to make on a weeknight needs to be fast, filling enough for my bottomless pit of a husband, and light enough for me to potentially lose a pound or two in 2011. So, we've been eating a lot of things from the sea. I can make a shrimp pad thai in about nine minutes flat, go easy on the noodles for my part, and load him up with the carbohydrates he so painfully needs.

I've also been looking for ways to dress up the old salmon fillet. I bought a huge one for him on sale, and myself a more reasonable portion, and cooked them up for a quick Monday night dinner. My sister insists that cooking them on the stovetop in cast iron is the best way to go, which meant I did have to add a litte oil to the process, but other than that, it was a very health-conscious meal.

I remembered back in my early cooking days I had stumbled upon a plum sauce recipe, and while I couldn't find said recipe anymore, I remembered the basics and what I didn't remember, I made up. You see, if you put a fancy sauce next to any dish, I'll feel a lot more excited about it. Plain salmon was hard to get jazzed about, but salmon with Asian plum sauce, I could get out the tap shoes for.

So first I set some basmati rice on to cook, and then I started my sauce.

Asian Plum Sauce

1 cup plum jam
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon sriracha
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon ginger
1 clove garlic, minced

Put it all in a small saucepan and stir it up until the jam is smooth, and heat over medium-low heat until you're ready to serve. Stir it occasionally.

Then I started some fresh broccoli in the steamer (when it's done, sprinkle with lemon pepper and voila! My favorite vegetable side dish - no lie).

Meanwhile heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in the cast iron skillet on high heat. Sprinkle the salmon fillets with kosher salt, pepper, and a tiny dusting of garlic powder.

When the oil is super-hot, turn it down to medium-high, and put the fillets in, skin side down. Cook for one minute, flip, and scrape the skin off with a spatula. Discard. Continue to cook the salmon for at least three minutes on that side, then flip again for another three minutes. I like salmon a little rare, with a crispy crust on top and bottom. If this doesn't cook enough for your standards, you can turn down the heat for a few more minutes, or you can move them to the microwave for 30 seconds in order to avoid burning the outsides.

This whole meal took about twenty minutes from start to finish, and that, my friends, is what I'm talking about. Mr. Meat and Potatoes could fill up on a big hunk of meaty fish, and eat all the rice he wanted, and I could eat my more petite fillet, go easy on the sweet sauce, have only a half a cup of rice, and extra broccoli.

If this is what dieting feels like, I can totally handle it. I'm sure, sooner or later, he's going to bust out a frozen pizza in front of me, and I'm going to sit there and weep while he eats the whole thing, but for now, I'll continue to pry him with plum sauce, seduce him with salmon.

*note: the salmon in the photo is slightly undercooked. In my quest to not over-cook it, I removed it from the heat too soon. 30 seconds in the microwave and it was perfection. Don't worry - microwaving salmon is actually a good method - just ask Alton Brown. However, I failed to snap another photo, because someone was banging forks on the table in the other room, so I just had to get on with dinner.


ladypod 12 years, 4 months ago

I love this! I just had to get a account so that I could start commenting on your blog. I also totally loved your mocha-chocolate cupcake recipe that you posted last year... and so did my hubby & both of our families. I made sure to tell them I got the recipe from your post. Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your stories & the recipes that follow :)

Megan Green Stuke 12 years, 4 months ago

Ladypod, welcome to! Please comment away - I love comments, feedback, and new ideas.

lwhite 12 years, 4 months ago

Great writing as always, and the food looks amazing, even though I can't claim to be a salmon lover!

Megan Green Stuke 12 years, 4 months ago

Lori, if you put that plum sauce on it, I'd eat garbage. Truly, you'd like salmon if it was covered in that stuff. ;)

linswri 12 years, 4 months ago

This looks delish, Megaroo! I've got a spicy maple glaze for salmon that is totally awesome, if you're still looking for ways to dress it up. We'll have to try this for sure though!

Aileen Dingus 12 years, 4 months ago

One of my favorite dishes is grilled salmon with a beet puree. I think though, that you're one that doesn't like beets? Anyway- gorgeous shades of pink, with the fish and the puree, if you can get it frothy instead of liquid it's even better.

But your plum sauce sounds right up there with it... I may have to give it a shot.

Rae Hudspeth 12 years, 4 months ago

I luvs me some salmon. but.. don't discard the skin.. sez the kitty. (Well, actually the kitty sez "yes, DO, and toss it my way.")

I like it on for baked salmon, it keeps the salmon moist.

It's good eatin'.. but if you just can't stand the idea of eating it on your filet, there's always Salmon Skin "Bacon" To make the salmon skin bacon, heat more oil in a pan and sear both sides of skin until crispy. Salt to taste and break into small pieces.

kallipalooza 12 years, 4 months ago

Mmmmm. I like the sriracha addition. Lovely. And @Rae: Ugh. :)

Marcy McGuffie 12 years, 3 months ago

"More accurately, he wanders around aimlessly, opening the refrigerator door and standing behind me at the stove anxiously, trying not to eat handful after handful of spicy Doritos because he knows I will scream at him to STOP SPOILING HIS DINNER, because yes, I have turned into my mother."

Wow. The same scenario occurs in my house nightly. Do we have the same mother, husband or both? ;)

I wish I could enjoy seafood - I've tried. I really have. But, I'm afraid that there isn't enough plum sauce in the world to drown out the repulsive fishy factor.. Well written and enjoyable to read (as usual).

Judgesmails 12 years, 3 months ago

i think salmon is bland im sure the sauce makes it better, though

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