Thursday, May 2, 2019

Salmon, Two Ways: Polish Style

So you know that fresh dill is often called the national herb of Polish cuisine, right?  A sprinkle of chopped dill will brighten up almost any dish.  Peter just came back from the farmer’s market where he found bunches of fresh dill that had just been harvested that morning.  Of course, he brought some home and when we put it up to our noses and inhaled that distinct was heaven! 

Grilled Salmon - Dill goes especially well with salmon – both fresh and canned.  Peter loves to cook fresh salmon steaks (or salmon filets) on the grill.  And Laura loves it too because that lets her off the hook for cooking dinner.
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First he oils them lightly with canola oil so they don’t stick on the grill grates (any flavorless vegetable oil will work).  Then he gives each piece a light sprinkling of fresh chopped dill and places a couple of thin lemon slices on top.  When the grill is hot or the charcoal is gray, he places the fish on the grill grates and immediately turns the heat down to low.  If you’re using charcoal, raise the grill grates up at least 3 or 4 inches from the coals.  Cook about 4 or 5 minutes on each side (less for thin filets), remove the lemon, flip the fish, put the lemon slices back on top and grill for another three or four minutes, depending on the thickness of your fish. 
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Now if Peter was a professional chef, he would check for doneness by just touching the fish. But he’s not, so there’s absolutely nothing wrong with cutting a small slit at the thickest point and having a look.  It will be ready to come off the grill if the middle is still just a bit pink inside. Salmon that has been cooked too long gets very dry, very quickly.
Put the fish on a serving platter, sprinkle some more fresh chopped dill on top, maybe drizzle with some fresh lemon juice, and voila, you’re ready to serve.  It’s the dill that makes it Polish style.  We love to pair our grilled Polish salmon with a small green salad, maybe some rice, and a fresh rose wine from our favorite local vineyard.

Salmon Salad - If you open Laura’s pantry you’ll always see a few cans of salmon on the shelf.

It has a lot more flavor than canned tuna and offers a world of options for a light healthy meal when you’re short on time or energy. Canned salmon has a lot of healthy nutrients, especially good for your heart.  Laura prefers the wild sockeye salmon which has orange-red color and stronger flavor than the basic pink salmon.  It’s a little more expensive but the flavor profile is worth it.  Laura likes the Kirkland brand of canned salmon (packed in water) from Costco but any brand will work. 

This salmon salad was a favorite of Peter’s Mom’s.  It’s been shared in this space before but is being brought it back today because it really needs to be in your book of go-to recipes.  It’s a great warm-weather plate when you don’t feel like preparing a more complicated meal. 

Serves 8
16 ounces canned, wild salmon, drained and crumbled
2 cups young potatoes, boiled & sliced thinly
1 cup mayonnaise
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
1 tablespoon scallions or green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

The only prep is to arrange all the ingredients in layers, so how easy is that?  On the bottom of a serving platter, spread the potatoes in a flat layer.  Second, spread a healthy layer of the crumpled salmon over the potatoes and lightly sprinkle with half of the chopped dill.  Third, spread a very light layer of the mayonnaise over the salmon.  Cover with alternating slices of tomato and the egg – show off your wild side and be creative!  

Sprinkle the top with chopped green onions, and the rest of the chopped dill.  Chill for an hour and serve on lettuce leaves.  A glass of dry white wine or fresh iced tea can be a very relaxing accompaniment.