Thursday, December 16, 2010

Salmon So Good, It Should Be On A Menu

Good evening everyone! Welcome back to Out Of The Culinary! Tonight, we're wrapping up the 'anti-Christmas meal' week with a return visit to salmon. As I mentioned yesterday, I've tried multiple different versions of salmon on the blog - each time learning a little something new about the fish (mostly things that fall under the 'what not to do' category - but all experience is good experience right?) I recently came across an article in the December issue of Cook's Illustrated that shined a little more lite on the aquatic treat. Armed with this knowledge and an interesting recipe - I set off to make tonight's dish.

The Recipe: Grilled Cajun Salmon
Original Recipe Found In:

What You'll Need:

2 Salmon Fillets (Skin removed)
2 Whole Wheat Buns
1 Avocado*
1 Small Red Onion
1 Small Tomato (Optional)
2 Tablespoons Light Mayonnaise
Cajun Seasoning (Or Blackening Rub)

*There are two options for the avocado portion of this dish. You can either purchase a whole avocado and then slice, pit and mash the avocado - OR you can purchase some all natural ready made guacamole - which, as you all are aware, is mostly avocado with a few extras (jalapeno or a little onion). The advantage of guacamole (as long as it's natural, pure guacamole - without a lot of additives) is that you don't have to pit or slice an avocado - and you don't have to mash the avocado with any mayonnaise as the guacamole already has the properties you are trying to achieve when you combine the mayo and avocado. Since I had very little interest in slicing and coring an avocado - I chose to use light, natural guacamole (which only had jalapeno and a touch of garlic as additives).

As I mentioned in the opening, I picked up an interesting piece of knowledge this week about salmon. As anyone who has cooked salmon in the past is aware of - the fish has an interesting 'side effect' of being cooked. Most cuts of salmon come off the grill or out of the pan oozing a white goo that is not appetizing or visually all. This 'goo' is a result of the protein in the fish coming to the surface and oxidizing. Essentially, when this moisture rich protein hits the right temperature, it is pushed from the muscle fibers in the fish to the surface where it instantly turns to a white, unappealing goo. I used to think this was just an unfortunate side effect of cooking salmon. However, December's Cook's Illustrated pointed out a simple fix. Reduce the heat. It turns out that this ooze only results when the salmon's proteins hit a certain temperature - by reducing the heat and increasing the cooking time - you can avoid this ooze and, in turn, keep more of the moisture in the fish.

Armed with this knowledge, I made a slight adjustment to the directions in tonight's recipe. The original recipe called for a grill pan to be placed on high heat and cook the salmon for 3 minutes per side. Hot and fast, as we established, will result in the unsightly goo. As such, I'm lowering the temperature to medium heat and cooking for about 7 minutes per side. Low and slow - and hopefully less goo.

Begin by bringing your grill pan up to medium heat. Rub the salmon fillets with a generous helping of blackening powder or with cajun seasoning. Place the fillets in the grill pan and cook, undisturbed, for about 5 to 7 minutes per side. The salmon should be a lighter pink all the way through.

On a (lightly toasted) wheat roll, spread a thin layer of the guacamole or the avocado / mayonnaise mixture. Top the salmon fillet with a few leaves of arugula and a thin slice of red onion. Serve and enjoy!
Gotta love the grill marks! 

The Results:

I love it when the end result looks like a 'real' cookbook photo!

This may be one of the best fish dishes we've ever made on the blog! We're not exaggerating when we say that this dish could easily be on a menu of any restaurant right now - it is that good (and it's low calorie too! Win Win!) Absolutely amazing flavor burst forth with every bite! The spicy kick of the cajun seasoning was neutralized by the smooth flavor of the guacamole. I have to admit, I wasn't expecting this dish to blow my taste buds away like it did - but I am pleasantly surprised by the end, to find my taste buds again...

Oh, and as an aside - the low and slow cooking technique? Worked perfectly. I ended up with perfectly grilled salmon fillets that lacked any goo whatsoever. Success!

That's all we have for you this week! Thank you, as always, for stopping by and sharing our cooking experiences with us. We're back on Monday with another 'Around the Culinary World' so be sure to stop by Monday evening to see what's new and exciting in the world of food. Until then,


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