1.19.2009

Dinner Idea: Glazed Salmon with Balsamic Baked Feta Asparagus and Orzo

Do you wish that you could incorporate a little more fish into your life? If you have a little extra time one evening (and by a little I mean about two hours), then you might want to try this dinner combination I came up with one evening while cooking to impress one certain single lady on valentines!

Salmon is nice and light, usually one of the more "safe" types of fish people enjoy. By safe, I don't mean it will help you cross a busy street, or protect you from movies starring Tom Cruise, but you get the idea. My recommendation for the salmon, is that you don't buy thin pieces but not very thick, either. Try to find a fine balance between the two. If you can buy the salmon that look like "strips" then those are easiest to skin. Refer to the photos below for a better understanding.

Nobody I have met knows what Orzo is. Orzo is not a secret. Orzo is a rice-like pasta, and you can prepare it just like rice. Simple as that. Yet, when I prepare it, people always either ask me what it is, or they're impressed at my use of "obscure
" ingredients. Right.

Asparagus is tasty when plain, when it's seasoned, but especially tasty when served with fish. In this recipe, we'll use the slight saltines
s of feta cheese to complement the flavour of the asparagus.

I find the best way to time everything cooking is to finish all the prep work first, chopping, skinning, etc... before we actually cook anything. Usually, we can start something and let it go while we prepare something else, but not this time. It's quite the concept, eh?

Let's get started.

Ingredients:
  • Fresh Atlantic Salmon, boneless (2 pieces)
  • Asparagus stalks (8 or as many as desired, but a multiple of 2)
  • Feta Cheese (1/4 cup)
  • Soya Sauce (1/4 cup)
  • Fresh lemon (1)
  • Honey (25ml)
  • Maple Syrup (1/2 tsp.)
  • Clove of Garlic (2 medium-small cloves)
  • Orzo (1/2 cup)
  • Margarine (1 tsp.)
  • Oregano
  • Balsamic Vinegar
General Prep:
  • Chop both cloves of garlic until they are in very fine pieces, almost minced.
  • Crumble the feta cheese into a dry-measure cup.
  • Cut the lemon in half.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Dish Preparation:

Asparagus:
  • Cover shallow baking sheet with tinfoil
  • Remove tough ends from asparagus stalks
  • Place stalks together in pairs of two on the baking sheet
  • Sprinkle garlic on top and around the paired stalks
  • Sprinkle feta on top and around the paired stalks
  • Set pan aside



Salmon:
  • Fresh Salmon will still have skin on one side, and you'll need to skin it. Its really not that bad, just as long as you have a long and sharp knife. Don't use a serrated blade.
  • Start at one side of the Salmon, slicing the skin from underneath. Peel back the skin as you slice it, as seen in the photo. Try to stay as close as possible to the skin without wasting too much. You can always trim excess fish off.
  • Once you're done, rinse the fish with cold water and set aside.
  • Pour the measured soy sauce into a bowl. Juice one half of the lemon into the bowl by simply crushing it and moving the peel back and forth. TIP: Use your fingers to get the excess juice out of the lemon, and it will clean your fingers of the garlic oil that's stuck to them, no more smell!
  • Take the other half of the garlic clove and add it to the soya sauce. You should still have 1 whole chopped clove remaining.
  • Pour the measured amount of honey into the bowl, while stirring. Make sure none just sits on the bottom, you want to mix it up.
  • Pour the measured amount of maple syrup into the bowl while stirring. Same as the honey above.
  • Sprinkle how ever much oregano you are comfortable with into the soya sauce. I usually go with a couple "pinches".
  • Set aside.
Orzo:
  • Fill a very small pot with water, salt lightly, and bring to a light boil. Remember, its like rice so it will expand to about double its volume.
Destructions (do them in order for best results):

Now with all the preparation done, we can actually start cooking!
  • Get a thick bottomed frying pan (distributes heat well), turn heat to medium and put a few drops of your favorite cooking oil, and 1/2 tsp. of margarine.
  • Let the margarine melt and spread around the oil. Put in the remaining garlic and heat until sizzling.
  • Turn the pan's heat to medium-low and place the two salmon pieces in it. If your temperature is correct, they should start sizzling lightly. Cook for 5-6 minutes.
  • Take the pan with the asparagus on it and place it in the oven. It will need to cook for 20-25 minutes. Check often.
  • Dump the measured orzo into the boiling water, turn up heat slightly.
  • The salmon should start to be turning from a deep pink to a pale pink on the bottom. Turn the heat up to medium and flip the two pieces over. Let cook for 5-6 more minutes.
  • When the salmon is turning pale pink throughout, add 1/2 the contents of the soya sauce mix into the pan.
  • The salmon should be getting brown from the soya sauce on the bottom, flip over, let cook for 4-5 more minutes.
  • Check asparagus.
  • Check orzo.
  • The salmon should be pretty well cooked now. Check if you are unsure. Remove them from the frying pan and place on a plate. Put the plate in the oven.
  • Turn the heat for the frying pan to high and add the rest of the soy sauce mix. The idea is to reduce/thicken it to make it into a glaze to pour over the salmon and orzo.
  • The orzo should be pretty well cooked, strain, and mix in 1/2 tsp. of butter. Let stand in pot, but don't forget to turn the heat off.
  • Once the sauce is thickened, turn off the heat and let stand.
  • Check the asparagus, it should be tender, and not dried out.
  • Remove the asparagus and arrange on two serving plates. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
  • Remove the salmon and separate onto two serving plates.
  • Serve the orzo onto each plate. Drizzle light amounts of the reduced glaze onto the orzo and the salmon.
  • For extra garnish, slice lemon and arrange on the plate, and on the salmon. Zig-zag additional maple syrup on salmon, if desired.
Enjoy!

2 comments:

  1. Fabulous, but how about desert.
    Currently my oven is about 30 minutes into baking up THE MOST divine concoction of bananas and bread. Yes, banana bread.

    If you don't know about this site Epicurious.com, you should check it out. This is my house's fav. recipe. So darn fabulous.

    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Banana-Bread-with-Chocolate-Chips-and-Walnuts-102982

    ReplyDelete