Monday, March 29, 2010

Assigned Reading
What’s cooking? Roasted Salmon with Shallot-Grapefruit Sauce

I’m cleaning out my office, in hopes of finding all the information I need to get my taxes done. Fortunately, I have a helper. His name is Max. And while he’s fairly critical of the process, we must press onward. I hate missing a potential deduction, so I do what I can for that errant nickel or dime. On the other hand, it hasn’t been a fruitless activity. I unearthed a couple of bills I needed to pay, some articles I felt sure would jump-start me on an essay or two, a fabulous recipe for salmon, and a handful of newspaper and magazine pieces I’ve saved. Many of these articles are what my husband describes as “assigned reading.”  That means that I read them and thought they were something that would be valuable – or at least interesting – to either him or one of my sons. These are almost always received with audible sighs and some eye-rolling, but I’m sure they’ll thank me one day.

I come by this habit honestly. Or maybe genetically. From the day I left home for college, and until they breathed their last breaths, my mother and father and grandmother would regularly send me articles from the local papers in San Antonio, where I grew up. They felt sure I’d want to know about various goings-on in my home town – weddings, parties, births, deaths, the whole cycle of life. And the occasional editorial or photograph. I miss that mail. Of course, back then, I was raising young children and didn’t have much time for reading what was going on in my own town, much less in San Antonio, but I did appreciate that warm feeling that comes from just knowing someone was thinking about me.

And now to that salmon recipe I found. It’s beautiful on the plate with some green veggie, like broccolini, and amazingly easy, once you get past the part about sectioning the grapefruit. (But even that’s not hard – keep reading.) It’s also delicious – the citrus is a really fresh taste, and I find that salmon’s strong flavor works really well with a slightly sweet sauce. The original recipe said it served four, but I made it for the two of us (my husband and me), and could barely keep myself from licking the pan. So I’d double it for four.

Kitchen Goddess Tip #1: I once did a side-by-side taste test with wild and farmed salmon, and the difference is stark.  So while I’ve made this recipe with both types, I heartily recommend you buy wild salmon if you can stomach the price difference, which is also stark.

Kitchen Goddess Tip #2: To section the grapefruit, slice about 1/4 inch off either end so that you have a flat base for slicing off the peel. Then with a sharp paring knife, carve down the sides of the grapefruit so that none of the bitter white pith remains. Holding the peeled grapefruit in one hand, slice into one section right next to that thin “skin” that separates them, and by turning your wrist with the knife, you can push the segment out. There’s a good video (less than 4 mins) here. I’m told that submerging the grapefruit in boiling water for 5 mins makes peeling it much easier; but, frankly, I could be done with the whole process before the 5 mins is up. It’s just not that hard. Go for it.

Kitchen Goddess Tip #3: For the honey, I prefer acacia honey, which has a much milder flavor than your basic wildflower honey.

Roasted Salmon with Shallot-Grapefruit Sauce (adapted from More Magazine, October 2009)

2 6-ounce salmon fillets
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (I love fresh ginger, so I use a rounded teaspoon)
1 Ruby Red grapefruit
½ cup grapefruit juice or orange juice or a combination
1 Tablespoon honey
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil

Peel and section the grapefruit, and cut the sections in half. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the salmon in a lightly oiled baking dish and season with the salt. Roast until just cooked through, about 18 mins.

While the salmon is cooking, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, about 2 mins. Add the ginger, orange/grapefruit juice, honey, and cayenne. Bring to a simmer, and cook down for about 7 mins. Add the lemon juice, and salt to taste. When the salmon is ready, stir the grapefruit sections and basil into the sauce and stir gently until heated through. Spoon the sauce over the salmon to serve.

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