One of the reasons I love salmon is for it’s nutritional value, specifically the amount of Omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty acids have a huge impact on our bodies general function, and most importantly we can’t make them ourselves, which means we need to get them via food sources. Salmon is super high in fatty acids…annnnd it’s delicious…you know I love me a double whammy.
As a side note, nutrition is important! Flavor is number one in my book, but making sure your body has everything it needs to be operating at 100% is a super important part of cooking. When I was growing up that meant the food pyramid. Nowadays that means the ‘Healthy Eating Plate’. Basically what it breaks down to is a large serving of veggies, equal portions of protein and grains/carbs, and a smaller portion of fruit. These are some great guidelines! Try to follow them when you can…but if you’re in the mood for a slice of cake, a big bowl of pasta, or some fried go for it! Life’s too short to live it one portion of healthy grains at a time.
What’s On This Plate??On this plate we have salmon, which as mentioned is a great source of protein and fatty acids, as well as fish oil and other amazing nutrients. I’m also cooking up some broccolini, which is an amazing source of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron and potassium. I’m rounding out this plate with a healthy serving of rice. Both Ms. YumSizzle and I are pretty active people, so I’m not afraid to give us good size servings, we deserve them. However, if you’re watching that waistline a little, my recommendation is to double down on the veggie portion and scale back the grain. Oh, and I almost forgot about the sauce! Remember, that plate isn’t just the main ingredients, but the sauces and dressings as well. You can make a super healthy meal of grilled chicken, steamed broccoli and boiled potatoes…but if you cover it in ketchup you just dumped a whole bunch of sugar on that healthy plate. This sauce brings in some fat, some sodium, and some sugar (none of which are inherently bad for you), some fruit juice, and a whole bunch of cilantro. Cilantro is an amazing herb, and if you like the taste of it (sorry to those of you that can’t stand it), it’s a great source of antioxidants and micronutrients and is way more nutritionally dense than most people think.
Mise En Place
I know, I know, enough nutrition talk…let’s get on to the cooking! Since this dish comes together pretty quickly it’s good to get things chopped and prepped ahead of time. This is generally a good thing to do, but for these quick weeknight meals it helps to stay organized. I’m going to take my broccolini and cut it into 2-3inch long pieces and place them aside. I’ll also chop up 2 large cloves of garlic to use with the broccolini and set that aside as well. I like chopping up the broccolini into bite size pieces to make it easier to eat, and I also like the variety of textures this give the final dish. The stalks are crunchy, and the heads get a little crispy, and it all gets super flavorful.
I’m Also going to get the sauce ready for the Salmon. I’m going to mix together the Soy sauce, honey, lime juice, sriracha, rice vinegar and mirin in a small bowl. Soy sauce, for the savory salty-ness. Honey to balance out the salt and help caramelize (caramelization = depth of flavor). Lime juice for the zing. Sriracha for the spice. Rice vinegar and Mirin help to bring liquid to the party, and they also provide a vinegar tang to the final dish (yup I’ll say it, umami).
I’m also going to chop up 2 large cloves of garlic and keep that set aside. The garlic adds body to the sauce, and that nutty flavor of slightly lightly fried garlic.
Let’s Get To Cookin!
To get this meal going I’m going to start my rice. I’m using a box of rice and spice mix for easy weeknightyness, but you can go for any kind of rice and cook it normally. I’m just following the directions on the box here, bringing up the water and oil to a simmer then adding in the rice and spices and cooking covered for 20-24 minutes. If the rice finishes first it’s no big deal just take it off the heat and leave it covered until you’re ready to serve, it should stay warm.
Next up I’m going to get the broccolini going. This is my favorite way to make broccolini and I cook this at least once a week. In a large pan place a couple tablespoons of good olive oil, the 2 cloves of chopped garlic, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Turn the heat as low as you can go, and let the garlic and pepper flakes absorb into the oil.
Cooking this super low and slow really enhances the garlic flavor and gives a more flavorful coating to the broccolini. Instead of getting a little bite of garlic, you end up with a garlic and red pepper infused oil that coats all the vegetable pieces. After about 10 minutes the garlic should be sizzling a little, you’ll want to make sure it isn’t burning, burnt garlic is a real dish ruiner!
Add in the broccolini, hit it with a large pinch of salt and pepper, add in a couple tablespoons of water, crank up the heat, and cover the broccolini. Let it steam covered for 2 minutes, then take the lid off and mix it all up in the pan, keeping the heat high and letting the boccolini brown and finish cooking for another 5 minutes or so. If you want them to really brown and be crispy let it go in the pan for an extra minute or two.
Annnnd finally we’re onto the salmon!
So, for this salmon preparation I’m going to cook the salmon about 90% of the way, then remove it from the pan and get my sauce cooking. There’s two reasons to do this, one – is so we can pickup any browned bits from the bottom of the pan after the salmon is cooked, and two is because we want the garlic and other sauce components to cook at their own pace. We’ll finish the salmon in the sauce to get it all nice and coated and delicious.
Everyone is always super concerned about cooking fish in a pan and worried about sticking but there’s some really simple tricks. One – if you’re really really concerned use a nonstick…that’s what I’m doing. But, I use my stainless pans for this and the key is just to make sure your salmon is dry, the pan is hot, you use an appropriate amount of fat, your fish isn’t super cold, and once it’s in the pan you don’t mess around with it.
Anyway, season the salmon with salt and pepper, get that pan hot and add in the sesame oil. Place the salmon in the hot oil and don’t touch it for 4 minutes. Or less! Ms. YumSizzle like her salmon well done, so I cook it well done, if you like your salmon medium or medium rare cook it for 2-3 minutes a side. Better yet, if you’re not comfortable cooking fish to a certain ‘doneness’ use a thermometer!
Seriously, for years I felt some sort of shame for using a thermometer in the kitchen, like I was supposed to be some kind of master chef that could cook from feel and intuition. No way man, I’m a home cook and now I love my thermometers. I even got an amazing Weber iGrill as a gift last year and it’s one of my favorite kitchen gadgets.
I digress, get a thermometer. After that 4 (or 2-3) minutes, flip it over and cook it for another 4 minutes. Then take it out of the pan and place it aside.
With the fish out of the pan turn it down to a medium low heat and add in the garlic, if there’s no oil left in the pan add a little more (sesame oil). Let the garlic cook for 30 seconds then add in the rest of the sauce ingredients that you already mixed, let that simmer down and cook for a couple of minutes.
When the sauce has reduced a little add in the cilantro. When you add in the cilantro the liquid will soak up a little bit. Cook it for a minute and the liquid will come back out of the cilantro. Stick the salmon back in and cook it for 3 minutes on a medium low heat, basting it with a spoon.
And that’s it! It might seem like a lot but in all reality it’s just a little mixing, a little sauteing, and a little simmering. Serve it all together and enjoy, make sure to spoon any extra sauce all over the salmon for that real yumsizzle experience! Enjoy!!
Cilantro Lime Salmon