November 15 – November 21, 2021
Monday: Leftover Chili with Perfect Green Salad
Tuesday: Penne Arrabbiata with Perfect Green Salad
Wednesday: Baked Chicken Breasts with Green Salad and Rice Pilaf
Thursday: Dunnings Meeting
Friday: Sautéed Salmon with Kimchi and Roasted Broccoli
Saturday: Pink Putters Birthday Celebration at Tim and Hilda’s
Sunday: Dinner with Paul and Nancy and Fred and Kathy at Tambellini’s in Highland Park
Dining with Friends / Cooking with Kimchi
Consistency is, I admit, not my strong suit. Last week I wrote about
getting back to basics – breads and soups and the sort of meals that we began to cook when we first had the desire to move beyond Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and Ortega Taco Kits. (There is not much better than the wonderful savor of sautéed ground beef with Ortega taco seasoning.)
Nonetheless, this week I’m going to write about Kimchi, which never made it into the Betty Crocker school of cooking. (Nor did it make it into Erma Rombauer’s or Julia Child’s great works.)
But that’s how life and cooking is – a sort of zig-zagging from one meal to the next with all the variety of modern groceries demanding your attention from the Middle Eastern aisle to that shelf of good and inexpensive spices above the flour tortillas. And, frankly, the best meal we cooked last week involved Kimchi.
Now, I say the best meal we cooked because it was a week of dining out with friends. And the food and the camaraderie (and the stories) at Tim and Hilda’s on Saturday night and with the Paul and Nancy and Fred and Kathy at Tambellini’s on Sunday and with the Dunnings Group at the Cornerstone on Thursday, were all memorable – particularly Dave and Julie’s stories on Saturday, Tom’s recounting of the BMW from hell on Thursday, and remembering the late JD Fogarty’s on-air explanation of the Immaculate Reception with Kathy, JD’s cousin, and Fred’s attempt to outline his mom’s logistical approach to raising and feeding a family of 11 (he was the oldest) on Sunday. But you can go to The Cornerstone or Tambellini’s yourself – and you should – and I’m sure that Hilda will share her recipe for Stroganoff if you ask nicely, so below you’ll find the recipe involving kimchi.
Here’s how I got to Kimchi. Billy, I think it was, gave me the cookbook The Joy of Seafood one year for Christmas. I cooked a few recipes from it and then put it on a shelf of overflow cookbooks in the basement. Now I would be perfectly content to cook shrimp or crab cakes or that wonderful crispy salmon of Jamie Oliver’s on every Friday for the rest of our lives. [We have made a personal tradition of carrying on the mandatory meatless Fridays of the Catholic Church we grew up in, though we have given up the hair shirts, the scapulars and the penitential practice of knee-walking up the Scala Sancta at St. John Lateran.] But even at my advanced age, a little novelty appeals from time to time. And, looking for Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics (doesn’t everyone read Aristotle before cooking?), I glanced up and noted the handsome cover of Barton Seaver’s, The Joy of Seafood and thought, why not cook something from that tonight?
Thumbing through the book and remembering that the only fish I’m sure to find at Giant Eagle is salmon, I turned to the salmon recipes and this one caught my eye. My first thought was – can I get SWMBO to try this? My second thought was – hey, you’re the cook, the people you cook for can like it or lump it. But, of course, my mission was to cook this salmon well enough to have SWMBO like it, knowing that any lumping would ricochet back on me in ways that were unpredictable but did not bode well.
I am happy, and quite relieved, to report that the dish was a success. SWMBO loved it. I breathed a sigh of relief. And we found a new dish worth cooking from time to time.
NOTE: Kimchi is a bit strong-smelling. An adventurous eater (me) can enjoy it raw, but a cautious eater will not. However, cooking it, after chopping it up, as in this recipe, reduces the funk and it presents as a savory, pickly background flavor to set off the richness of the salmon. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I might imagine that Kimchi was made to be cooked with salmon. But I do know better and I tip my hat to the person who first thought of this pairing.
Sauteéd Salmon with Kimchi
(adapted from The Joy of Seafood by Barton Seaver)*
*Barton Seaver is one of the world’s leading sustainable seafood experts and educators. An award-winning chef who turned to seafood sustainability, he is Director of the Sustainable Seafood and Health Initiative at the Harvard School of Public Health. He is the Erma Rombauer of Seafood. [My mother’s bible was Erma Rombauer’s Joy of Cooking.]
Timing: 40 minutes
Ingredients: Serves 4
4 salmon portions, skin on
¼ cup chopped kimchi
1 lime, juiced
Season the fish with salt and let it rest for 20 minutes.
Measure out 6 tablespoons of butter – you’ll be using 2 to cook the salmon and 4 to make the sauce.
Heat a large skillet (non-stick makes life easier) over medium and melt 2 tablespoons of the butter.
Place the salon portions skin side down in the pan and cook without flipping until the fish is almost done. NOTE: Fish takes about 6 minutes of cooking per 1/2-inch of thickness. For 1” thick (in the thickest part) – cook about 10 minutes since you’ll be finishing off the salmon in the sauce.
Remove the fish from the pan (a fish spatula helps here) and wipe the pan clean.
Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and cook until foamy, then add the kimchi and cook until slightly browned – 4-5 minutes.
Now add the lime juice to the pan and stir to combine. Turn off the heat and place the fish flesh-side down to finish (3 minutes).
Serve with roasted broccoli or rice and spoon some of the kimchi on top or under the salmon portions.