Archive for September, 2005

Julia’s Kitchen at the Smithsonian

I just discovered an exhibit of Julia Child’s famous kitchen at the Smithsonian. Be inspired!

I discovered Julia when I first arrived in America in 1980 as a student. I lived in Boston and watched her shows in WGBH, the local public TV station. Her shows were very entertaining but I regret that I did not pay close attention to them. I was teaching myself how to cook so that I could continue enjoying home cooked meals that I was accustomed to when I lived in my native home, the Philippines.

Over the years, I have paid closer attention to Julia’s lessons and have become a better cook for it. Now, whenever I make French scrambled eggs cooked slowly over a little butter, I thank Julia.

Julia’s books and TV shows are great fun. I am now reading/studying/cooking with her first major work,  Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One. Julia and her two French co-authors labored over a dozen years to write the book that was finally published in 1961. I have the 40th Anniversary edition and it is a sheer delight.

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Pan Fried Wild Sockeye Salmon

A few days after we demonstrated the Salmon Salad, my son developed a craving for salmon. Here’s what we prepared at home that evening.
For 2 servings

Equipment/Ingredients

  • 2 fillets of wild sockeye salmon with skin on, thawed, about .3 to .4 pounds each
  • 1 frying pan (10 to 12 inch diameter) large enough to hold fillets
  • 1 plastic or wooden spatula
  • 1 splatter guard large enough to cover fillets
  • enough olive oil (1 to 2 tablespoons) to coat pan
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
  • 2 sprigs of fresh dill to garnish (and impress)

Procedure

  1. Buy frozen wild salmon if you live more than a few miles from where the salmon was caught. Great salmon comes from Alaska. Since I live in Minnesota, that’s a lot of miles for great salmon to travel. The frozen variety was likely frozen shortly after it was caught, sealing in the juices and keeping the nasty germs away. Some “fresh” salmon were previously frozen! Check with your fish merchant before you invest in truly fresh salmon. Wild is more flavorful than farm-raised, has more good stuff (protein and omega-3), less bad stuff (fat, additives, contaminants) and no artificial coloring (tacky and unhealthy)!
  2. To thaw salmon, place it in the refrigerator for about 1 1/2 hours. If you are in a hurry to eat, fill a bowl with warm water and immerse the frozen salmon in the water until the salmon is soft, around 20 minutes. If you are really desperate, microwave the salmon for 15 seconds at a time. Check between zappings to make sure the salmon is not cooking.
  3. Wait until salmon is thawed before cooking.
  4. Turn on the stove’s exhaust fan to suck up the smoky smells that are about to follow. If you don’t have this luxury, open the nearest window to the stove.
  5. Heat pan over medium high. After 1 minute, coat pan with olive oil.
  6. When oil begins to smoke, sprinkle bottom of pan with 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of granulated garlic powder.
  7. Immediately place both fillets on pan skin-side down. Cover pan with splatter guard to prevent oil from spattering everywhere.
  8. Walk away…don’t move the fillets.
  9. After 4 minutes, gently scoop out each of the fillets with the spatula. Invert each piece as you transfer it to a clean plate. Notice the crisped skin. This is very delicious.
  10. Again, sprinkle bottom of pan with 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of granulated garlic powder.
  11. Place the uncooked side of the fillet on the pan and cover pan with splatter guard.
  12. Walk away…and again, don’t move the fillets.
  13. Prepare serving plate(s).
  14. After patiently waiting for 4 minutes, gently remove the fillets and flip them on serving plate(s), with the flesh side up. Notice the slightly browned flesh. Yumilicious!
  15. Turn off stove’s burner and exhaust fan.
  16. Decorate each fillet with a sprig of fresh dill or a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice. You may also add a tablespoon of mayonnaise on the side.
  17. Enjoy your masterpiece. Don’t forget to eat the crispy skin. It has lots of vitamins and flavor.

Learn more

Wild Salmon Facts

Basic Salmon Cooking Tips

The Debate: Wild vs. Farm-Raised Salmon

Salmon’s Nutritional Gift: Omega-3

Special items I used

Wild Sockeye Salmon by Misty Fjord Seafood Producers (mistyfjord@methow.com, 206.409.1885) from the frozen food section of my town’s natural food co-op (Just Food), $9.99 per pound cheap

A 12 inch Lodge iron skillet

Thanks and Request

To Melanie, for introducing me to a delicious salmon product

To Alex and Iris, for sharing their cooking experiences

I would love to hear about your experience with this recipe and any questions or inspirations you have.

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Smart Salmon Salad

On Saturdays, Andi, my 13 year old son and I conduct food demonstrations in our town’s natural food store, the Just Food Co-op in Northfield, Minnesota.

On my first demo day, I prepared a salmon salad with two varieties of Alaskan salmon — Red Sockeye and Pink. For a canned product, the salmon had a fresh and vibrant taste. The Red Sockeye had a more pronounced color and flavor.

I served the salmon on slices of organic bread, slices of organic cucumber and individual leaves of organic Belgian endives.

To add variety of the demo, I also served fresh California figs accented with carambola cheese and raw honey.

The Co-op has ordered cooking equipment. I am excited about preparing cooked food soon.

Here are the recipes.

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Welcome Friends

This journal records my culinary adventures. I hope to keep it up-to-date for the benefit of all aspiring cooks like myself and for the people who delight in our efforts.

Thank you to Sean Hayford O’Leary for setting up this site and teaching me how to use it effectively. Thank you to Alyssa and Andi for being my willing test subjects.

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