Thursday, December 11, 2008

Salmon with mushrooms and spaghetti squash in saffron sauce

Proving that I do more than bake, I'm offering my first "dinner" recipe. Now, I meant to have this posted last night, but I just started Netflix and got my first disc of the old Doctor Who series, so yeah last night was really unproductive. Sort of. But that will be for a later post.

I'm not sure why so many people I meet either outright hate or strongly dislike fish. Growing up in DE, and having family scattered along the Eastern Seaboard, seafood was naturally a part of my diet growing up. I've presumed that its because I now live in the "midwest" and thus really fresh seafood is a bit lacking. But its 2008 (for a little while longer at least) and modern transportation means that even the Kroger down the street from me has pretty decent fish fillets and shellfish. Maybe its an unsolvable mystery like reconciling quantum theory with Newtonian physics... or how many licks it takes to get to the center of Tootsie Roll Pop™.

Either way, I love fish. And shellfish. And even things that remotely fall into that category such as caviar, escargot, frog legs, 'gator, conch. I'm game for any of it. So, what happens is that whenever I go to the grocery store, I check out the seafood case. Now, being a graduate student, fish should be a luxury since its not the cheapest source of protein by far. To reconcile these two facts, I've taken to only buying items on managers special. They don't look the best, but you often have a good day, maybe two before you should pause before using it. And its half the price for what is still good quality food. So on a recent trip I found some nice sized salmon filets and picked two up. Now, when you buy any meat, and especially seafood knowing you need to use it within a day or two, you often need to get creative with what you make depending on what else you have available.

In my case, it was some left over spaghetti squash and some managers special mushrooms that I had picked up as well. I could have gone the easy route, sauté the mushrooms, broil the salmon with a quick garlic/olive oil glaze, re-heat the squash, throw it all together with a light drizzle of olive oil and some fresh pepper, and call it a night. But I remembered a recipe Mark Bittman posted on his blog once about fish with a saffron sauce made with yogurt. Since I generally have yogurt around since I usually make my own, I figured I'd give it a whirl. Now, his recipe calls for making the saffron sauce, and then drizzling it on cooked halibut filets. I of course changed it up a bit.

Salmon with Mushrooms and Spaghetti Squash in Saffron Sauce:

Saffron yogurt sauce:Saffron Salmon 4
1/2 cup yogurt*
1 pinch saffron threads
couple grinds of pepper
1/4 tsp. dill

Combine ingredients in a small cup or bowl, crushing the saffron as fine as possible. Incubate at room temperature for ~1 hour. The sauce should take on a faint yellow/orange color.
Saffron Salmon 5

Notes: You can make the sauce a day ahead of time and incubate in the fridge to amp up the flavor.
*As I said, I make my own yogurt. I'd suggest using full fat or even greek, especially if you heat it like I did. If you want to use low/no fat, you'll probably want to drain it to remove as much extra liquid as possible.

Pan seared salmon, mushrooms and squash:
~1 cup spaghetti squash previously pulled into threads
1 salmon fillet
3 large crimini* mushrooms sliced
salt and fresh ground pepper as desired

Heat a non-stick pan over high heat. When hot, place the salmon fillet skin side up and sear the top for 1-2 minutes. Turn over and drop the heat to medium and cook till salmon is cooked through (time will depend on the thickness of the fillet). While the salmon is cooking, add a small amount of olive oil to a sauté pan over medium heat. When oil is fragrant, add the mushrooms and squash and cook till heated through. When salmon is done, remove skin and cut into small chunks. Add salmon to mushrooms and squash and add saffron sauce. Raise heat to high and cook just till the sauce is hot. Eat, enjoy.

Saffron Salmon 1

My thoughts:

I liked the combination, and the saffron was still present but a bit muted by the stronger flavor of the salmon. I didn't follow the exact method I described above. I microwaved my squash and topped it with the salmon and mushrooms which has been cooked in the sauce. In retrospect, this caused the meal to be a little watery as the squash gave up liquid which I didn't drain off. If you cook the squash with the mushrooms, they should absorb the liquid and thus you shouldn't have that problem.

Saffron Salmon 2

I've got a lot more recipes coming in the following weeks, one of which I'm still trying to perfect but I'm super excited about sharing when its done. So if you're enjoying this blog as much as I am so far, great. Share it with all your friends. And family. And co-workers. Heck, even strangers.

1 comment:

Karen said...

The saffron sauce sounds wonderful in this recipe. Glad you mentioned about the watery squash. I think I would put mine over pasta. Great recipe!