Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Ye Don't Say--Salmon for a St. Patrick’s Day Feast?

If St. Patrick’s Day finds you waxing poetic, blazing a warpath to find your only green cable-knit sweater and yearning for a splendid Irish dish—other than stew—for your green day feast—be  brave—think pink. Think salmon! Whistle the Irish Spring tune and follow in the footsteps of Finn mac Cumhail, mythical Irish warrior turned poet. Legend has it, he was given the poetic gifts of magic, insight and the power of words—all from eating the Salmon of Knowledge from the Boyne River. And writing poetry was the ideal protective leisure pursuit for a warrior in those days because poets in Celtic society were considered sacred, mystical beings to be protected from harm or death at all costs.

Manly yes, but I like it too. Whether or not you’re an aspiring warrior or poet virtuoso it’s never too late to begin reaping the many great health benefits from salmon; longevity being one of them.  Chocked full of Omega-3 DHA and EPA fats found in fish oil, vitamins A, C (both powerful antioxidants) and E as well as niacin and riboflavin, salmon is credited with lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke, Alzheimer’s, eye disorders and cancer. To fully benefit from salmon’s “good fat” qualities, always broil, bake or grill it—avoid frying it.

As the Irish say, “Long life to you!”  Fight the good fight, try these tasty salmon recipes and dream big. Perhaps mid-life will see you celebrating your 60th birthday in Ireland dining on salmon, rooming at an ex-warrior’s Bed and Breakfast and penning insightful poetry by candlelight in the wee hours of darkness.

To get you started, here are a few unromantic but cold hard facts for buying and cooking salmon:
·        Choose fresh fillets over frozen whenever possible.
·        Pick tailpiece fillets—they’re sweet and lean.
·        Flesh should be thick, firm, moist and bright in colour.
·        Before cooking, rinse in cold water. Thoroughly pat dry.
·        Cook for 10 minutes per inch (measure at its thickest part) or more to taste at 400F-425F.
·        Done when juices run clear; flesh is opaque, slightly moist and flakes easily.

Salmon with Maple-Nut Crust

1 large tail piece of salmon
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup chopped almonds, pecans or shelled pistachios

Line a rimmed cookie sheet with tin foil. Wash and dry salmon with paper towel and place skin side down on the sheet. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper. Mix together syrup, curry and mustard. Chop up or crush nuts. Preheat oven to 425F. Spoon half of maple syrup mixture over fillets then sprinkle with nuts. Spoon remaining maple mixture over nuts. Cover the areas of the sheet that don't have fish on them with tin foil pieces. This keeps the oil from splattering and burning. Bake in centre of oven at 425F for 35 min.


Sweet n’ Feisty Lime Salmon

¼ cup frozen lime juice concentrate
1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
3 tbsp rum, sambucca or tequila (optional)
1 large (2-3 lb) fillet of salmon (skin on)
1 tsp dried dill
Spoon frozen juice into a measuring cup and stir until a little slushy. In a separate bowl, mix together maple syrup and rum and add thawed lime concentrate. Rinse salmon under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with tin foil and place the salmon skin side down, touching foil, flesh side up. Using a pastry brush, paint ¾ of the lime mixture on the salmon. Sprinkle with dill.  Let stand for 15-20 minutes. Cover the exposed areas of the cookie sheet (outside the sides of salmon) with strips of foil to prevent burning. Bake in preheated 425F oven on the middle rack for 25 minutes. Transfer salmon (with skin on) to a large platter and drizzle reserved juice mixture on top. Scatter lime and lemon slices around the salmon on the edges of the platter and garnish with a few sprigs of dill if you wish. With a large spatula lift fish fillet from skin and serve.

Elegant Dill-Parsley Salmon Loaf

2 cups fresh cooked or tinned salmon, flaked
2 tbsp lemon juice
¾ tsp salt
2 green onions, chopped
2 cups soft breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup light mayonnaise
¼ cup whole milk
For Dill-Parsley Sauce:
Mix together:
¾ cup low-fat plain yogurt
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped (save a few sprigs for garnish)
2 tbsp parsley, chopped

¼ cup capers (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 350F. In a bowl combine all ingredients. Pour into a spray-greased 6 cup (1.5L) loaf pan or bundt pan. Bake for 35 minutes until golden on top. Unmold the loaf and slice. Place slices on serving plates, drizzle with sauce. Place a dill sprig on each serving and scatter 4-6 capers over top. Serves 4-6.

Dilly n’ Caper Smoked Salmon Salad

2 tbsp light mayonnaise
2 tbsp plain yogurt
2 tsp white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 small garlic clove minced
1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley chopped

½ cup chopped red onion
12 slices (about 8 oz) smoked salmon, cut into thin strips or leftover cooked salmon
2 tbsp capers (bottled is fine)
6-8 cups mixed spring greens or watercress, washed and loosely torn into pieces
½ cup Pumpernickel or Sourdough croutons (optional)

Whisk together mayonnaise and yogurt, vinegar, dill, parsley and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Pour over greens and toss to mix. Sprinkle red onion and capers over top and toss gently. Place salmon strips over top and toss very gently. Serve with Pumpernickel or Sourdough bread croutons if you wish.