|Dinner with the folks|
Mar 20th, 2006
Visual presentation has never been my strongest suit when it comes to food. There are food bloggers out there with gorgeous dinnerware and a good sense of color who produce lovely photos of their dishes. These are the cooks who don't serve food, they plate it. They might even own little squeeze bottles to pipe the sauces just so on the plate. Now I'm not mocking these cooks, in fact part of me aspires to be one of them someday, it's just that I really can't compete with my cracked ten-year old Pfaltzgraf and fabulous collection of plastic Ikea cups. So visual flair isn't something I usually bother too much about.
But I've got to say that the dinner I served on Saturday night was as lovely as it was tasty. There's a set of recipes in The Healthy Hedonist for two different sauces, one yellow, one green, both made with coconut milk. As an aside the author suggests serving both of them with grilled salmon for an especially pretty look. And then I was reading fellow Seattle area blogger Molly at Orangette and she had posted a recipe for a perfect for spring Asparagus Flan. Once I saw that I knew it was just the thing to go with the salmon and sauces. Not only would there be a profusion of colors: salmon pink, pale green, and creamy yellow, but it was all low-carb! Perfect as I was cooking dinner for my parents who are living la vida lo-carb these days.
The flan came out just as promised, silky and savory. The only thing I did differently from the original recipe was to blend the asparagus and then run it through a food mill rather than using the food processor/sieve combo. But it's basically the same idea, although I ended up not really having any stringy bits to throw away, so I think the food mill might give you a higher yield of asparagus puree.
Although it was lovely in Seattle this weekend, I wasn't ready to pull out the barbecue, so I roasted the salmon on a grill pan at high heat on the bottom rung of my oven after rubbing it with a chile pepper spice rub. Both the sauces from The Healthy Hedonist came out great, although the green sauce was definitely the winner. Featuring spinach, basil, and cumin along with the coconut milk it is almost disgustingly healthy and tasty. You could pour it on so many things, and we proved that at dinner Saturday night. The green sauce went on the salmon, it went on the flan, it went on the salad. I half expected someone to pour some on the cat and see how that tasted.
You could probably up the heat level in these sauces quite a bit, as I was adding the chipotle powder to the salmon I kind of wussed out on the sauces themselves. And in fact, in the interests of full disclosure, I forgot to add the chiles to the yellow sauce at all. I found them sitting there on the counter while we were clearing up, living proof that a hot pepper tolerance painstakingly built up by four months in Thailand will not survive twelve years in Seattle.
Roast Salmon with Two SaucesServes 4nice big salmon fillet with skin on
1/4 tsp chipotle chile powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Sauce #1 (Spinach Coconut Milk Sauce)
1/2 lb spinach
3/4 tbsp each whole cumin & coriander seeds
3/4 cup basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/8 cup canola oil
1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
1/4 of a serrano chile, seeded (or to taste)
1/2 tbsp fresh ginger
1/2 tbsp lemongrass
Sauce #2 (Yellow Pepper Coconut Milk Sauce)
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 1/2 yellow bell pepper
half can of coconut milk (approx 7 ounces)
1 tbsp lime juice
1/4 serrano chile, seeded and minced
Make both sauces before cooking the salmon.
Sauce #1: Wash and dry spinach. Cook until wilted over medium heat and then remove to a strainer and/or squeeze out the excess water. Dry-toast the cumin and coriander and then grind in a spice grinder/mortar & pestle/blender/whatever. Throw all ingredients into the blender and blend until you have a smooth sauce. To further smoothify the sauce send it through a food mill or seive (lined with cheesecloth if necessary). Store until just before serving.
Sauce #2: Saute shallots in tablespoon or so of canola oil until translucent. Add the yellow peppers and saute until soft, about ten minutes or so. Using your (hastily cleaned) blender, blend the shallots and peppers with the coconut milk and lime juice. Send the resulting sauce through the food mill or seive to make it silky. Reserve the sauce and chiles separately until just before serving.
Salmon: Preheat the oven to 500°F or get your grill going. Rub the olive oil over the surface of the fish. Mix the spices together and rub all over the (non-skin side) fish. Cook on an oiled pan on the lowest rung of your oven until the salmon is just opaque. Or grill it, you're on your own there.
While the salmon is cooking heat each sauce just until warm and stir the chiles into Sauce #2 (the Yellow Pepper one).
Serve the salmon with both beautiful green and yellow sauces.
-adapted from The Healthy Hedonist, Myra Kornfeld