My sister, Rebecca, is crazy for fish. Fresh fish, canned fish, frozen fish—she can’t get enough. I’m looking forward to the day she visits Iceland—I’m sure she’ll return with tasty tales of her encounters with one of their stinky specialties, rotten shark. (I know you’ll read this at some point, Becca, so I also have to make fun of your fondness for canned oysters. To quote your 19-month-old nephew, when he is in need of a diaper change, “P.U!”).
By contrast, I began life with a distinct aversion to aquatic edibles.
My turnaround was gradual (a fishstick here, a salmon cake there), but my lack of fish affection worried me, especially when I started getting more serious about cooking. This was due, in large part, to my boyfriend of the time, who insisted I would never be a real gourmet unless I learned to love all fish and seafood, from the mundane to the bizarre (fish eyeballs anyone?).
My choice was clear. Given that my mother’s “Oriental” tuna casserole still topped my list of favorite fish dishes, I opted against gourmet and for skilled home cookery.
Much has changed on my personal fish front in the two decades since. I like fish a lot. I’m still uncomfortable with the “love” word, but the affection is real. I think we have something that will last.
My cooking philosophy, though, remains static. I am of similar mindset to James Beard, who proclaimed he loathed the phrase “gourmet cooking.” Rather, “there is fabulous cooking, good cooking, mediocre cooking and bad cooking.”
Using this categorization, a dinner of 10 minute teriyaki salmon skewers, a crunchy cucumber salad and steamed rice not only passes muster, but falls squarely in the sector of good and fabulous. It reminded me of home, where good Japanese restaurants are plentiful (and great ones abound, too, like our neighbor Noriko’s restaurant Norikonoko).
You might not earn the title “gourmet” by making dishes such as this one, but you will earn a reputation for being one heck of a good cook.
Toodle-oo; I’m growing bleary (stayed up too late watching the Academy Awards last night). I'll be back tomorrow (I've got some plans up my sleeve).
Teriyaki Salmon Skewers with Cucumber Salad
Can you make this in fillet form (and skip the skewers)? Absolutely. Do what works for you; I just like how the teriyaki sauce penetrates the fish with flavor when the fish is cut into smaller pieces. Also, I usually double the sauce and set half of it aside to use for extra dipping.
Nervous about removing the skin from a fish fillet? No worries, it's pretty simple, especially if you have visual aids. Here's a video link showing how it's done: How to remove skin from fish fillets.
Steamed rice (white or brown) is all you need to finish the meal.
Technically, this makes 4 servings--but we almost always eat the whole thing (2 skewers apiece). If one or two skewers are leftover, though, they are very delicious for lunch the next day (trust me on this one--I am rarely tempted by leftover fish).
3/4 pound salmon fillet, skin removed
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup mirin (rice wine) or dry sherry
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 and 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon bottled chili-garlic sauce
2 English cucumbers (or 4 regular), thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
3 tablespoons seasoned rice (sushi) vinegar
Cut the salmon crosswise into 1-inch strips, cut each strip into 1-inch cubes. In a medium bowl whisk the soy sauce, brown sugar, mirin, ginger, lime juice and chili-garlic sauce. Add the salmon pieces and tosss to combine, Let stand 5 minutes. Toss cucumbers with vinegar, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Place oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler; line broiler pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Thread salmon onto 4 metal skewers and place on broiler pan (reserve sauce). Cook 2 minutes and (generously) brush with reserved sauce. Repeat until the salmon is just flaky, about 8 minutes total. Serve the salmon skewers with the cucumber salad. Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition per Serving (1 skewer, 1/4 of the cucumbers):
Calories 169; Fat 3.1g (sat 0.5g, mono 0.8g, poly 1.2g); Protein 19.1g; Cholesterol 44.2mg; Carbohydrate 12.2g; Sodium 562.8mg.
(Note: I did the nutrition analysis using Diet Analysis Plus 7.0.1)