Thursday, September 13, 2012

Grilled Salmon: For Non-Salmon Lovers

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Did you ever have to take a required course that was titled something like, "Chemistry for Non-Science Majors"? Epicurious calls this recipe "Grilled Salmon with Crunchy Sweet Mustard Vinaigrette," but I am unofficially renaming it as Grilled Salmon for Non-Salmon Lovers.

Until last Friday, I was one of those people who just doesn't eat salmon. I should be clear; I am not talking about lox or sushi . . . c'mon, I'm Jewish, of course I eat lox. I am referring to salmon fillets -- grilled, baked, or broiled. It's been tough being a Non-Salmon Lover. Salmon is the 'fish option' at steak houses, it is practically as American as apple pie, and is almost as cheap as chicken. Well all of that is about to change. I am officially a salmon convert. No really. I have literally made this meal three times this week. It is that good.

You might say this blog is the result of the salmon. Amanda and I have been cooking together, trading recipes, reviewing restaurants, and gushing about the DC food scene for almost as long as we have known each other. Admittedly, it hasn't been that long, but this friendship has evolved, in large part, over our mutual love of food. After months of raving about the recipes we've tested, we decided some of them are just too good to keep to ourselves. Which brings me back to the salmon. Last weekend I showed up at Amanda's apartment for dinner. She had salmon, and we needed a way to cook it that (a) she wasn't tired of and (b) wouldn't gross me out. I didn't admit it to her at the time, but I was skeptical. After one bite, we both knew this recipe had to be shared. 

Simply grilling the fish gets it crispy on the outside and flaky on the inside. It literally falls apart to the touch. Then you drench it in the most delicious tangy, garlicky, and sweet dressing that you will literally want to drink. I don't know if describing it will do the dressing justice, but suffice it to say that both Amanda and I have put this dressing on EVERYTHING all week. It is amazing on broccoli, as a salad dressing, mixed into quinoa, and apparently even on a sweet potato - according to Amanda. It is not, however, so great on chicken. Skip the chicken; put the dressing on anything else. Without further ado, adapted from Epicurious, the recipe: 

First make the dressing. You will need:
  • 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of whole-grain mustard
  • 3-4 garlic cloves - finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of honey *you can substitute agave but it will be a little sweeter and a little runnier. 
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Fresh chopped garlic makes all the difference. The jarred stuff is good in a pinch, but if you have the time,  chop your own.

First whisk together the apple cider vinegar, the whole grain mustard, and the chopped garlic.
Next whisk in the honey- adding it slowly. 
Then slowly whisk in the olive oil, mixing as you pour. You want the ingredients to be fully incorporated. 
Lastly, season with salt and pepper to taste. Now, resist the urge to dunk whatever crunchy things you have lying around (even though we couldn't) and set the dressing aside.

Next grill the fish. You can do this in a grill pan on the stove or in a skillet. Of course you could do it on a real grill too, but we live in apartments. All you need is the fillet of salmon (4-6 oz per person), olive oil, salt and pepper. 

First, heat up your grill pan on the stove so it gets very hot. 
While it is heating up, lightly brush your fillet(s) with olive oil, salt and pepper. Next, place the fillet into the pan, skin side down and cook for five (5) minutes. 
The first time we used a grill pan, the second and third times I used a skillet. The difference in texture and flavor was minimal
As it cooks, you'll see the pink move up the sides of the fillet. When it is done,  you should not see any more bright orange- it should all be the same shade of pink. 
Next, place the fillet into the pan, skin side down and cook for five minutes. After five minutes, flip the fish over and cook until it is completely done. The originally recipe said two additional minutes, but it took us five. 

The fish is completely done when the salmon is the same light pink color throughout and there is a light char on the outside of the fish.  Once you get it onto a plate, drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of the dressing on top, and you are done! 

So tender, it literally fell apart before I could get it on the plate! Yum! 

If you try it out, please let us know your thoughts! 

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