We eat fish for dinner on Tuesdays. I should say we usually eat fish on Tuesdays. Today I ate Pad Thai with an extra scoop of peanuts. But if we don't have other plans or cravings already in place we eat fish on Tuesdays because that is the day that I can get it fresh at the farmers market. I always buy it from the same women; the ones in the blue and white stripped aprons, who work in the trailer on the edge of the market closest to the lake, the one all the way to the left with the red trim, the overflowing bowl of lemons on the counter and the giant octopus in the case.
Zach adores fish. It all started with salmon. His love of salmon grew into a love of trout, grouper and sea bass, which then transitioned into a love of zander, egli, forellen, saiblings and pretty much anything else with scales and a penchant for swimming.
As I mentioned in a previous post (the one where we cooked an entire sea bass) I resisted cooking fish at home for a long time. I saw fish as something that was cooked for you, not by you. I thought it would make the apartment smell for days and days and days, and I hate super fishy smells. Unwilling to jump in too deep, I started with salmon. You could say that salmon was our starter fish. After multiple salmon successes in a row I eventually branched out to some of the smaller, thinner, local fish, but it all started with salmon, salmon cooked in an herb crust.
The mustard, brown sugar and minced herbs melt into one another in the oven and the crust becomes slightly crispy around the edges, all while the fish stays nice perfectly pink and moist underneath. It's as if you tucked the salmon into bed with a big fragrant green blanket, a blanket that after a little while in the oven releases it's flavors into the fish, while also keeping it from drying out by shielding it from the intense heat. It's magic really.
If you don't already cook fish at home you should and you should start with this recipe. It's easy, quick and makes for a well presented and delicious meal. I think we probably ate salmon in an herb crust four or five times in a row before I finally decided to try something different and packed it in a papillote with basil and roasted tomatoes and steamed it in the oven. If you're anything like me you just need somewhere to start. From there you can take it where you will, but taking that first step is the toughest.
// Salmon in an Herb Crust //
adapted from Katie Lee (once Joel), The Comfort Table
serves 4 (one pictured above was for two) but this can easily be expanded to feed a crowd. I usually estimate about 350-400 grams for two people, which is about 3/4 of a pound or a bit more. It goes without saying that you should buy the best fish you can find, which means wild when it's in season and organic when it's not.
1 cup loosely packed mixed fresh herbs, minced (such as parsley, thyme, chives and mint - tarragon, cilantro are also nice)
3 Tbsp light brown sugar
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 pounds of salmon
Heat the oven to 450º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a bowl mix the herbs, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. You want the mixture to resemble a paste so you can spread it - feel free to add more mustard or sugar in order to achieve the desired consistency
Place the salmon skin side down on the baking sheet and spread the herb mixture evenly over the top (you might have extra). Thinly slice the lemon and lay a few pieces, overlapping, down the center of the fish. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the salmon is just opaque in the center.
// Roasted and Flatted Potato Salad //
Nigel Slater, Tender
24 new potatoes
1 head of garlic
a few sprigs of rosemary or thyme
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 Tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 400ºF / 200ºC
Clean and scrub the potatoes and place them in a baking dish. Separate the garlic cloves, but do not peal them, and add them to the potatoes. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and toss in leaves from rosemary or thyme. Place in the oven and roast for 45 - 60 minutes, until they are puffed and golden and their insides are fluffy.
Mix the vinegar, mustard, olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper in a jar, cover tightly with a lid, and shake hard to mix the dressing and make it thick.
When the potatoes are done press on each one with a wooden spoon until they flatten and split. Pour the dressing over the potatoes and mix.