9: How to Cook Everything — Cold Poached Salmon with Lime-Ginger Sauce
During the summer — especially the never-ending tail end of it which has left you drained and dreaming of jacket weather, a.k.a. now — my food preference distills down to pretty much a single phrase: “I wonder if this is good cold.” Since last week’s soup was in the Cook & Chill category, I’m keeping on that same track. Because that’s what I do; first I cook… and then I chill, AWWWWW YEAAHHH…
This book has been looming untouched like a big red monolith in my cookbook collection for too long. Why have I not cooked from it yet? LOOK AT IT. It’s intimidating as fuck. The thing has 1,044 pages, for god’s sake! And there aren’t any pictures in there; maybe an occasional table or illustration, but that’s friggin’ it. That said… a lot of the recipes are pretty simple and totally doable. That’s why Bittman was able to cram so ever-loving many of them into this book. (Mark Bittman, if you’re not already familiar with his formidable body of work, is a food journalist, author of many cookbooks and non-cookbooks, and a super-smart, entertaining dude with a health-conscious streak. You may know him best from his years writing for the New York Times.)
Flip around this book and listed after some simple recipes, you’ll find 3 or 4 easy variations on the theme. Much of the content reads like a textbook, in a completely useful and informative way. Having this on your shelf is a lot like having a dictionary around; when you find yourself going “What ARE the Basics of Frittate and Other Flat Omelets?”, Bittman’s got your back.
And the basic I went for today was poached salmon.
The Recipe (directly from the book, which you should buy):
Things to Note About the Recipe:
“Why should I poach salmon? It seems weird, diety, old-timey, WASPy, and generally unsexy.” Yeah, I thought so too. But I’m OK with being wrong. Because more than I dislike being considered weird, diety, old-timey, WASPy, and generally unsexy, I dislike overcooked salmon. And, like most fish, it’s crazy easy to overcook. Now, my pan-cooked salmon game has seen a significant uptick since I tried Kenji Lopez-Alt’s method, but I’m always game for new methods to avoid parched-ass cat-food salmon. And since I’m so Team Cook & Chill these days, this seemed like a good choice.
Yeah, you’re lightly boiling a hunk of fish in salted water. That’s it.
It sounds unsexy. But it is not unsexy. This salmon is terribly sexy.
And while it cooks (sexily), you make a delightful sauce that needs no extra cooking. BRILLIANT. Hell, I didn’t even whisk it; I put it in a container with a lid and shook the hell out of it. I recommend you do the same.
Now, the recipe says to use a 3 lb. fish or 3 lb. piece of fish. That is a LARGE chunk of fish, and I am but one human woman (and not a bear smacking whole salmon out of the stream). So I got a nice big 1 lb. filet, cooked it as described… and it turned out lovely. I still recommend making the full amount of sauce, though, because that stuff is tasty and you will not be mad to have extra.
The tender, supple fish. The bright, salty, gingery sauce. Tell me that ain’t sexy. It’s so sexy, you might forget to turn on the air-conditioner.
“Dana, what’s the rest of the stuff on the plate?” Just some cucumbers and tomatoes, hit with a bit of everything-bagel seasoning. The sauce from the fish is equally delightful mingled up with fresh veggies.
How did it taste?
Friggin’ delightful. I’m actually delighted. It’s the perfect way to eat your chilled salmon. Sure, I like lox too, but I don’t need that much salt added to my life. I’m officially sold on poached salmon. And the sauce is a wonderful multipurpose finisher worth making on repeat.
Would I make this again?
As you might have guessed by now, yeah, I absolutely will.
Do I recommend this cookbook?
I don’t know that I’d recommend it to true beginners, as it might be super intimidating. But for curious novices who are really looking for something to help build a good, healthy foundation, heck yes. And for anyone who wants a back-pocket reference for how to prepare just about anything, this is a great go-to. Except that it would not fit in anyone’s back pocket ever.
What’s the next recipe I want to make from this book?
I just flipped through the pages, and on one page of the salad section, there are 2 recipes I need in my life: Barley Salad with Cucumber and Yogurt-Dill Dressing and Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Peppers. I love grain salads (Cook & Chill, AWWWW YEAHHH), so these are going in the lineup for sure.
One more damn recipe down!