Get Smart, Eat Salmon

December 7 – December 13, 2020

Monday:                   Fig and Brie Toasts with Microgreens, Baked Rigatoni with Lamb Ragu, Salad

Tuesday:                   Split Pea Soup with Crispy Kielbasa

Wednesday:            Broccoli and Kale Salad

Beez sneaking into my office from the backyard, after a walk in the snow. To her immediate left is a photograph of Bill Mazeroski’s walk-off home run in the 1960 World Series, to the left of that, a picture of the great Roberto Clemente.

Thursday:                 Leftovers

Friday:                       Seared Salmon with Red Pepper Aioli / Salad

Saturday:                  Pizza with Salad

Arlo, in his favorite wing-backed chair, casually holding a bone, watching the Steelers’ game last Sunday

Sunday:                     Roasted Sausages, Peppers and Onions

We had to dig some for this week’s post.  We really should have turned you on to Ina Garten’s recipe for split pea soup with Crispy Kielbasa, but it’s a lot of work, and we thought that, the week before Christmas, something you could whip up while sipping a martini would work better.  This also left out the Baked Rigatoni which included par-cooking the pasta and a fairly active sauteeing of the other ingredients.  And the seared salmon is just so good – even without the red pepper aioli – and so simple, that we just had to share it.

Here are the results of our digging: 

Not only does the salmon undergo two changes in its life – a molting and chemical changes that allow the fish, which is hatched and spends its early life in fresh water, to swim in the salt water of the Pacific and Atlantic, but another change later, before it returns to fresh water to spawn.  Salmon also eat lots of other fish – they’re not exactly sharks, but they’re kind of wolf-like.

The Celts associated the salmon with wisdom. In Irish myth the salmon of knowledge swam in the Well of Segais, and ate the magical hazel nuts that fell into the water. There was a prophecy that Finegas would catch and eat it, thereby gaining all knowledge. …

The implications of this are clear:  When in Ireland, boil the water before drinking and eating salmon will make you smart.  Below, we help you with that second part.  You can boil your own water.

We’ll get back to you for a Christmas post next week but, in the meantime, please relax and enjoy the season and as many friends and family as you find it safe to be around.  And please notice, on this day after a heavy snowfall, how little control we really have over much of life.  Make it a snow day and have fun.

Seared Salmon with Red Pepper Aioli

(adapted from Ina Garten, Modern Comfort Food)

If you don’t have the ingredients, or don’t like mayonnaise, skip the aioli, but learn to cook salmon this way.  We’ve been doing this for years, following a recipe of Jamie Oliver’s.  All this salmon needs is a squeeze of lemon – but the red pepper aioli puts it over the top.

Timing:                                           20 Minutes

Ingredients:                             Serves 4 – can be halved

4 (6 ounce) boneless, skinless, center-cut salmon fillets  [You really should go to a fish monger to get the correct cut.  If you go to a supermarket, like I did, you’ll have to wheedle and cajole to get four similar-sized fillets.  Honestly, I don’t mind the cajoling but I find the wheedling takes a lot out of me.]

1 lime, quartered, for serving, plus 1 tablespoon of freshly-squeezed lime juice for the aioli

1 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise (we used a bit less to get a spicier aioli)

2 teaspoons minced garlic (we used 1)

1 tablespoon canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped

¼ cup jarred roasted, red peppers (you can roast your own, of course, but there goes the ease of cooking and you’ll probably spill your martini in the process)

Good olive oil

Kosher salt and ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 400 F and preheat a large cast-iron skillet over high for 5 minutes.

Pat salmon dry, rub all over with olive oil and, with the rounded (skin) side up, sprinkle with salt and pepper, liberally.

Chop minced garlic and chipotle peppers to make a paste and place in food processor.

Measure out other ingredients for the aioli and chop the red pepper.

Make Aioli:

To the chipotle, garlic paste in the food processor, add the lime juice and roasted red peppers and purée.  Now add the mayonnaise, a scant ¼ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper and process until smooth.  Set aside.

Sear and Roast Salmon:

Reduce heat under skillet to medium high.  Place salmon in the pre-heated skillet rounded (skin) side down and cook for exactly 2 minutes (DO NOT MOVE).  Use a large spatula to turn the fillets over – the rounded side should now be up – and put the skillet into the preheated oven for about 4 minutes.  Cover the skillet loosely with aluminum foil and let the salmon rest for about 4 minutes for medium-rare or 5 minutes for medium.

Serve the salmon with the aioli and a wedge of lime.  This would go beautifully with wild rice or roasted potatoes.  (You can pre-roast the potatoes and then heat them in the oven while the salmon is resting.)

4 thoughts on “Get Smart, Eat Salmon

  1. He is a guest, and a most welcome guest at that. He is Billy and Emily’s dog and has what can only be described as unbounded energy. He has slowly but inexorably worked his way through Rusty’s various toys. He is absolute hell on stuffed animals – Billy tells me that he’s averaging one kill per day in that department.

    We’re thinking Springtime would be the perfect season for a new pet – not sure we can hold out until then.

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