Salmon with Winter Salsa
I know you can get passable tomatoes in the wintertime nowadays, but I guess it's hard to break some old habits so I almost never buy them. Simply seared salmon and a bed of cumin rice get a fresh lift from my apple, cilantro, and onion salsa, seasoned with yuzu (you can also use lemon), and Aleppo pepper.
1/4 cup apple (I used Honeycrisp), fine brunoise‡
1/4 cup peeled white onion, fine brunoise
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaf and stem, well-rinsed and finely minced
2 Tbsp scallion greens, finely minced
2 tsp yuzu* or fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
Salt, to taste
1 cup basmati rice, rinsed well and soaked in water for 15 minutes, then drained
1 1/2 cups water
2 tsp ghee° or butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
2 (4-6oz) fillets of salmon
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning, then refrigerate in a covered container.
Combine all ingredients in a heavy-bottom sauce pot with a lid, mix well and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 25 minutes, then allow to rest off of the heat for 10 minutes before gently fluffing the rice.
Pat the fillets dry and season with salt on both sides. Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to a seasoned or otherwise non-stick skillet. Add the fillets skin side down and turn the burner to medium heat.
Once the fish has cooked most of the way and the skin is crisp (about 5-7 minutes after they start to sizzle, depending on the size of the fillet), gently flip them and cook the meat side for about 90 seconds, then flip them again and do a final 60 second crisp on the skin. I've been cooking salmon this way recently after I got great results experimenting with chicken thighs. The skin crisps nicely and does not shrink like it can when you start with a hot pan.
Serve the salmon over the cumin rice and serve the salsa on the side.
‡ A fine brunoise is a 1/16" (1.5mm) dice.
I prep the apple by slicing thin slices off one side (eating the first one that has a lot of peel on it), then stacking those slices and cutting matchsticks, then turning those ninety degrees and cutting them into small cubes.
For the onion I cut one in half, then first make thin cuts following the contour of the onion (this way you don't have to make lateral cuts which just make a mess), then I turn it ninety degrees and cut small pieces.
The salsa works with larger chunks by the way, so don't worry if your knife isn't up to the task. I'm just picky.
* Yuzu juice lasts for months in the fridge and I love the flavor. Just get a good brand with no added salt, like this one.
° Ghee is a clarified butter where the milk solids are cooked, yielding a nutty flavor that pairs beautifully with rice, breads, and popcorn.
Variations & Ideas:
- Add one half teaspoon of Shabazi N38 to the salsa for a round herbaceous heat and a cuminy kick. I'll also use it sometimes when I can't find great cilantro.
- Add a pinch of sajira to the cumin rice for another layer of cumin flavor.
• You can add spices to the salmon itself, I like a light coating of Izak N37 with this preparation.
• The salsa is also great with fish tacos, especially since cabbage is so tasty this time of year.
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