Sunday, February 22, 2009

Spice Lacquered Salmon with Toasted Coriander Seeds and Cloves

It's official. Everyday Dining with Wine (by Andrea Immer Robinson) is one of my top ten favorite cookbooks. That doesn't mean I've actually tried any of the pairings yet, which is the entire reason I bought it (I had pinot grigio with the salmon last night instead of the recommended syrah) but I haven't been struck down by lightning yet because of this.

This dish is absolutely melt in your mouth delicious and as a bonus, the aroma of spices and dark rum and orange zest will fill your house while it cooks.

I admit to using a lot of ground coriander in my recipes, but I'd never tried coriander seeds before. Andrea suggests toasting the seeds in a dry pan with the black peppercorns and cloves before blending them in a spice grinder and adding them to the wet glaze ingredients.

Do you remember clove gum from when you were little? That's all I could think about while the spices were toasting. The scent was a little time travel machine to being five years old again. Only I'm glad I'm not five, because I wouldn't have the palate to appreciate these flavors.

You know what a recipe fiddler I am, but I wouldn't change a thing here, except for the preparation method (Andrea's recipe had you brush the salmon before pan-searing. I wasn't about to waste all of this delicious glaze, so I slathered it on like a southern girl using Crisco on a rooftop to get a tan, all throughout cooking.)

I served these with crispy cumin seed potatoes, which I'll include in the next post.

Spice-Painted Salmon
Adapted from Everyday Dining with Wine, by Andrea Immer (Robinson)
Serves 2 (the glaze will cover enough salmon for 4 people, if needed, just up the amount of salmon)

• You can assemble the glaze early in the day, and leave in a cool place until ready to cook your salmon. This makes for an impressive but easy Saturday night dinner.

1 large piece of salmon (about 12 oz) or enough for 2 people

2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup dark rum (I only had regular rum, so I added a teaspoon of molasses)
2 teaspoons orange zest (from one large orange)
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

pinch of salt, for seasoning fish
Orange slices and/or cilantro for garnish, optional

First assemble the glaze. Combine the peppercorns, cloves, and coriander seeds in a dry skillet and toast over medium high heat, moving the spices around in the pan constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a spice grinder and grind coarsely and set aside.

Combine the brown sugar, soy sauce, rum, orange zest, and vinegar in a saucepan. Stir in the spice mixture, and bring to medium heat (a light simmer), stirring constantly, until reduced to 1/4 cup. This should take about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Preheat your oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick spray. Set aside. Have a large, nonstick skillet ready on your stove, then prepare your salmon by lightly seasoning the flesh side with salt, then 'painting' the flesh side liberally with the glaze. Heat your skillet over medium high heat for 1 minute (it's not good to heat nonstick pans for long by themselves), then add the salmon flesh side down to sear for 3 minutes, lowering heat to medium heat. While it's searing, paint the skin side with the glaze, as well as the edges. Carefully flip over, glazing the flesh side again, and sear for 5-6 minutes. If you like your salmon medium rare, you can just take it off the heat and let it rest before serving. But if you're me, carefully transfer it to your prepared baking sheet, glazing the top again liberally before putting into the oven for 8-10 minutes, until just cooked through.

Let rest for 5 minutes, then slice in half and serve.

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