I’m going to admit something to you: I don’t know how to cook fish. Sure, I can cook seafood. I know how to make crab cakes, I like to add shrimp to this stir fry dish, and I’ve even made steamed mussels before. But actual fish? I have almost no experience.
I know one very simple recipe for salmon, and I almost never make it anymore. My mom wrote me this first salmon recipe when I was in college. I was a sophomore and moving into an apartment with some friends. No more meal plan, I was feeding myself! So my mom sat down with a spiral notebook and wrote me a few easy recipes – one of which we called “plain-ass chicken.” Another recipe was for baked salmon. Take a fillet, season with salt, pepper, and a pat of butter. Wrap it in a little tin foil packet and bake in the oven until cooked through. I’d eat that with a box of Near East rice pilaf and broccoli I had defrosted in the microwave. That was practically my signature dish. That’s the only fish recipe I really know how to make.
But I’m older now and I wanted to learn something new. I found this recipe in BBC Good Food and I liked this because it has a few different vegetables and it’s mostly easy with a few Asian flavors to make it interesting.
In addition to being nervous about fish, I also have an awkward expat story to go with this meal. I went to Waitrose (the grocery store) to buy ingredients and I stopped in the packaged food section to buy the fish. I was being shy and didn’t want to talk to anyone. But I told myself, “No, Mariel. Be brave and go to the fish counter.” So I did. I got in line, was ready to order when I heard the guy in front of me order “sole fillets.” Only he said “fill-it,” whereas I would say “fil-lay.” So now I was hit with indecision and nervousness. What should I say? What I know? Or try to fit in? Instead I choked, pointed to the salmon and said “four salmon please.” Might sound like nothing, but I felt like a dork.
Anyway, back at home, I got to cooking. This recipe is pretty quick to make and beautiful on the plate. I think this was a good introductory fish recipe and I will be trying it, and other fish recipes, again. I’ll admit I cooked the fillets inconsistently with a few being a little underdone – but I’m new at this so it’s ok. If you’re new to cooking salmon too, just use your fork to flake off a bit and see if the salmon has cooked on the inside. Cooked salmon flakes, uncooked salmon looks like sushi. Hope that helps.
[This is not food related – but I know some of you out there want more stories and pictures about sightseeing in London. I promise I will. I’m figuring out how I want to do it and I’ll post it here soon]
Adapted from BBC Good Food.
thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
6 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp rice vinegar
4 salmon fillets, about 5 oz each
7oz soba noodles
1 1/2 cups frozen soy beans
2 cups baby corn, chopped
2 cups snap peas, chopped
1. In a dish big enough to fit the salmon, mix together the ginger, garlic, soy, and vinegar. Add the salmon and let it marinate for at least 10 minutes.
2. In large skillet on medium to medium-high heat, add the fish and cook on each side for 3-4 minutes.
3. While you’re starting your fish, heat up the water for your soba noodles. Once the water has come to a boil add in the noodles. The soba noodles shouldn’t take too long to cook. 4 minutes before the noodles are supposed to be done, add in the soy beans. Add the rest of the vegetables in 2 minutes before the noodles are supposed to be done. The veggies will still be a bit crunchy. Drain well when finished.
4. After the fish has cooked on both sides, add the marinate and let it bubble for 1-2 minutes.
5. Plate the salmon and noodles. Spoon some sauce from the pan over the noodles. The noodles aren’t too flavorful without the sauce. (Make more sauce if you think you’ll like a lot!)
Messy level: Not only is this recipe relatively straightforward, it’s also not very messy. You need a pot for the pasta, a dish for the salmon to marinate in, and a skillet for cooking the salmon. The messiest part is flipping the salmon. You have to make sure to flip the fish gently, otherwise sauce will splatter and the fish will break.