Fish is one of my favorite staples, but I’m skeptical of my abilities to actually cook it myself. Case in point: When I was in college, I purchased a tiny fillet of cod and tried to copy my favorite way my mom cooks it, which is baked with crumbled Ritz crackers on top to give it a bit of salt and buttery crunch. I was trying to figure out how long to bake it according to its thickness, because it was such a small piece, but all my cookbooks and usual online resources told me I should just wait until it flaked and didn’t look as translucent. I put it in the oven in a casserole dish, but didn’t realize that I needed to leave the cover off in order for it to brown on top.
The problem was that it didn’t get crispy and flaky because the cover was on the dish, and I couldn’t tell what color it was through the layer of Ritz crackers on top. I thought I should wait another 10 minutes, because it still looked a bit translucent. After 20 minutes, it still didn’t look right, so I left it in for another five.
By the time I was done, the poor cod had probably been baking for 30-40 minutes. My mom laughed hysterically when I told her how I had managed to make my special dinner into a fillet of leather so inedible that I ended up having to throw it away.
It only takes one mistake to learn the next time, so although I was wary, I thought I’d try my hand at making salmon this week. I found a recipe for salmon with a maple dijon and scallion glaze in my newest cookbook, The Little Black Apron: A Single Girl’s Guide to Cooking with Style and Grace by Jodi Citrin, M.S., R.D., Melissa Gibson and Katie Nuanes. I’ll write more on this book later, but what I like about it is that the recipes don’t use a ton of obscure ingredients–most of the time, it’s something I already have or should have in my pantry, and if it’s something rare, they’ll often offer up a substitution that might be easier to find.
And I’m proud to report that my second encounter with the gods of seafood was a success. I served it with a side of brown rice and fresh, steamed green beans, another bounty from the farmer’s market. It was sort of a lot of food for one serving, so I ate half and saved the rest to heat up today at work. I used it to top a salad, which consisted of:
2 cups arugula
a sprinkle of crumbled blue cheese
a sprinkle of slivered almonds
Dijon Vinaigrette Dressing:
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tbsp cider vinegar
1/4 tbsp dijon mustard