Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chef Challenge-Something Fishy

Editors Note:  This is a guest post from Colin.

Meal One is an easy recipe, which was the point.  It also is a healthy one, supposedly, so this will be something new for me.  No cheese, tortillas, or condiments on a meal I make is a rarity.  Taking on something as potentially volcanic as actually preparing fish to cook is a first.  My only other firsthand experiences with flippers involve grilling frozen tilapia straight from the freezer to the George Foreman, and restlessly getting sunburned with a bobber in the water while "fishing."  The former experience I gave up on after a few bad meals, and a few inedible meals.  The latter I finally learned was just an excuse to drink beer outside, and now something I quite enjoy.  Not that I actually catch anything, though.  But a tuna fillet?  I thought tuna only existed in-between bread, with mayonnaise and pickle relish.  Neverthless, I rolled up my sleeves, un-wrapped my catch from the butcher, and dove into this fishy first feature of the Have Her Over For Dinner Chef Challenge.

The Recipe

Pan Seared Salmon with Brown Rice and Green Beans

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 6 - 8 oz Salmon Fillet, skin removed
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
1/2 Lemon
1 Package Uncle Ben's Whole Grain Brown Ready Rice
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz Can Green Beans

Preheat a skillet/heavy bottomed pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Lightly season salmon fillet with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper; add to skillet and cook, undisturbed 3 - 4 minutes.  Meanwhile, prepare rice in the microwave according to packet instructions.  After salmon has cooked for 3 - 4 minutes, add the lemon juice, flip fillets, and continue to cook for another 4 - 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, add another tablespoon of oil.  Add garlic, followed immediately by the green beans.  Saute, shaking on occasion, while the salmon is finishing - just enough to heat through.  Remove salmon and plate next to green beans and rice.

    One lesson anyone learns quickly when attempting a chef's recipe as written is to read through it first, place out everything, read it again, discover all your kitchenware, and read it again.  Then, after you read it again, prepare everything that can be prepared in advance first, because once that meat hits the heat, you don't have time to mince and whisk while cooking.

This proved important to me in this meal for two reasons.

First, I don't own a microwave safe bowl big enough to do rice in the microwave.  This isn't such a big deal--I'm actually a huge rice fan, and have experience with it (boil, cover, stir, add 3 sticks of butter).  Finding this out I went ahead and started the rice on the stove top since it takes about 25 minutes.
Second, though, was the clove of Garlic.  When cracking open the garlic to mince, simply turn a large bladed knife flat on top of the garlic, and Jersey Shore Fist Pump down to crush it open.  Realize that even the most atrophied desk jockey is nonetheless more powerful than a dying piece of vegetation, and avoid shotgun blasting 14 garlic cloves across your kitchen.  Finding and picking them up for 10 minutes only makes you realize how relieved you were to prepare everything beforehand.

!!PLEASE NOTE: A clove of garlic is but one pod in the whole head of Garlic--do not begin mincing the entire thing thinking that clove was simply a nickname for the whole garlic head.  Because that would be really really embarrassing to do.  Especially if anyone ever found out about it.  So, yeah, don't make that mistake. 

Aside from this mess, things went well.  Rice is easy, and green beans are basically just heated up.  I would reinforce that once you put the garlic on the pan, don't let it sit for long--it will brown quickly and give your whole place garlic breath from the burn.  As for the tuna, don't be scared of the pepper and the lemon, they both really add to a flavor that was surprisingly unfishy, almost like a lighter, flakier steak.  When I joked with Matt after the whole meal was done about needing to remind people to eat their tuna slowly since they will have bones in them, he politely informed me that I am an idiot that bought a tuna steak instead of a fillet.

Which brings me to my final two lessons learned: just because a cut of tuna is the only one in the store doesn't mean that it is the correct cut, and despite the fact that a tuna steak is thicker than a fillet, you won't get sick (probably) from cooking the steak at the fillet times listed above.


Cook said...

There are several hilarious reasons why this post is funny... #1, you made salmon, not Tuna. #2, you should have bought "ready rice" that you simply microwave for 90 seconds, as the recipe called for, instead of an actual box.

Oh well - live and learn.

Unknown said...

i also love the fact that you smashed the entire head of garlic....classic

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