Right after we've enjoyed a salmon dinner, my mother-in-law inevitably pushes her chair back at some point, sighs with pleasure, and states that "eating salmon is like having candy." Truly, I could not put it better. I love salmon, with its wild, distinctive flavor, which is unlike any other fish. Barely anything has to be done to it to produce good results, and it takes practically no time at all to cook (though you could say the same of most fish). It's exactly the kind of thing I need on my now-limited evenings, when the last thing I really want to do is prepare something complicated.
I've made this particular recipe before (minus the relish), and it was heavenly. I thought I'd try it again, and if I must say, I did an even more of a bang-up job this time than I did the first time. The salmon gained a slight, satisfying char from its quick drenching in tamari and garlic, and when placed atop a fluffy pile of rice, one could see tiny, flavorful rivulets of my hasty marinade begin to thread delicately through the rice. That side dish alone would be worth making as a dinner for one on a busy evening-flavorful and subtly spicy, enhanced by bits of barely sauteed jalepeno, light, spring-green scallions, and the ever dependable exotic flair of cilantro. The relish is really what pushed the dish over the edge into a more refined territory. At least, that is what I thought to myself as I scattered the spicy brine of purple-tinged red onions and chunks of cucumber somewhat haphazardly across the salmon.
2 rounded tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 European seedless cucumber, cut in half lengthwise then thinly sliced into half moons
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (eyeball it)
1 serrano or jalepeno pepper, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 cups long-grain white rice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves (2 generous handfuls), chopped
6 scallions, thinly sliced.
Heat a medium sauce pot over medium-high heat with the vegetable oil, 2 times around the pan. Add the pepper halves and the garlic cloves, cook for about 1 minute, then add the rice and stir to coat it with the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Cover the rice, reduce the heat to very low, and cook the rice for 18 to 20 minutes, until it's tender. Add the cilantro and scallions and fluff with a fork. Remove what's left of the pepper halves; some small pieces may have broken away but they will be tender and flavorful (I left the pepper halves in the rice).
Seared Salmon with Soy and Garlic
1/4 cup tamari (dark soy sauce; eyeball it)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander, 1/2 palmful
6 skinless salmon fillets, 6 ounces each)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (eyeball it)
Freshly ground black pepper
In a shallow dish, combine the tamari, garlic, and coriander. Add the salmon fillets, turn to coat them, and let them marinate for about 5 minutes.