Wrap It Up – Asian Honey Salmon Baked in Foil

I have to confess,  I am a fish-o-holic!  I love it and I could (and often do) eat it every day.  I know not everyone shares my passion for fish, but for those of you that do, I have a delicious recipe to share with you today. And for those of you that think you don’t like fish, I urge you to give this a try – you may be surprised and find yourself in a never-ending love affair.

It is quick and easy – great for busy weeknights when you want to put a delicious and healthy meal on the table.  The star of this show is my Asian honey marinade and I use if for more than just my fish. Not only is it great on fish, it is also a great marinade for roasted veggies and even as a dressing for salad!  It is truly one of my great work horses and I use it often.  I always have a batch ready to go at all times.

The recipe I am sharing with you today features salmon glazed with my delicious marinade.  For this particular recipe, I have chosen to wrap the salmon in foil before baking since the end result is a tender, flaky and juicy piece of fish… steamed to perfection in its marinade bath.  None of that dried out, tough-as-shoe-leather piece of fish here!  And as I said before, it is quick and easy and ever so delicious.

Asian Marinated Salmon
Asian Honey Marinated Salmon

 

So let’s get started!

For The Marinade:

Ingredients:
1/4 c honey
2 tbs rice vinegar
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce (optional, but very tasty)
1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ginger, minced
1/4 tsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 green onion, thinly sliced – green and white parts
4 – 6 oz. salmon fillets or your favorite firm-fleshed fish

In a small bowl combine all ingredients through to the salmon and whisk vigorously until blended.  (To make things even easier – grab a small empty glass jar, add all the ingredients, and shake, shake, shake – you now have it all set and ready to go – just pop in the fridge and bring it out when you are ready to use it).

Transfer the marinade and the salmon to a bowl or zip-lock bag and allow the fish to marinade for 30 minutes, turning the fish one or twice.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 deg. and create four (4) individual foil “boats” to place the salmon in, making sure to have large enough pieces of foil to completely cover the salmon (and the roast veggies if you are also preparing them).  Place each of these packets onto a large,  heavy-duty cookie sheet and remove each piece of salmon from the marinade and place onto the foil.  Drizzle each piece equally with the remaining marinade.  Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for 25 minutes or until fish is tender and flakes easily with a fork.  Serve with roasted veggies and rice or couscous for a delicious meal.

Asian Glazed Salmon with Roasted Carrots
Asian Honey Salmon with Roasted Carrots

As you can see in the photograph above, I also roasted some carrots to go along with the salmon.  And, yes, I used the same marinade for the veggies as I did for the salmon.  I told you this marinade is versatile!

If you wish to also roast some veggies, simply double the marinade and choose your favorite veggies – carrots, parsnips, tomatoes, broccoli, and squash are all great choices.    Simply rub your choice of veggies with the marinade and place on a foil lined baking sheet and bake in a 425 deg . oven approximately 25 minutes – until just tender and browned, stirring and flipping the veggies once during the roasting.  Remove from the baking sheet and place into the foil packets along with the salmon.  Enclose the packets and bake as directed above for the salmon.

This is truly one of my favorite meals and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  And if you aren’t that crazy for the taste of salmon, you can easily substitute your favorite firm-fleshed fish.

 

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A Classic: The Reuben Sandwich – Deli-Style

One of my very favorite sandwiches is the Reuben.  There is just something about the combination of all those wonderful ingredients: corned beef, melty swiss cheese, sauerkraut, thousand islands dressing – all lovingly nestled between two buttery and toasty pieces of bread.  Very yummylicious!

So today I found myself in the mood for this glorious epicurean delight and what with the recent celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it a fitting sandwich to share with you.  Many of you may still have corned beef and sauerkraut on hand.  If not, a quick trip to the market is wholeheartedly encouraged.

In the making of these sandwiches, I proudly confess that I never buy Thousand Islands Dressing.  It is so easy to make and requires little more than your regular staple items: mayonnaise, ketchup and sweet pickle relish.  Yep, believe it or not, just by mixing these three items together you will have a great tasting Thousand Islands Dressing. However,  for my homemade version that I am sharing with you here today, I am also adding cider vinegar, lemon juice, and sugar… just to kick it up a notch!  If you don’t have cider vinegar you may certainly substitute plain vinegar.  If you don’t have lemon juice, no problem, just don’t include it.!  This truly is a versatile little workhorse of dressings and plays a starring role in what makes the Reuben such a tasty sandwich.

So let’s get started with the dressing:

Thousand Islands Dressing
Thousand Islands Dressing

Thousand Islands Dressing:
1/3 c mayonnaise
3 tbs ketchup
2 tbs sweet pickle relish
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp apple cider (or plain) vinegar
1/2 tsp lemon juice (optional)

In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients.  Stir well to blend.  Set aside while preparing sandwiches.

And now, for the Reuben…

Deli-Style Reuben Sandwich
Deli-Style Reuben Sandwich with Corned Beef, Swiss Cheese, Sauerkraut and Thousand Islands Dressing

Deli-Style Reuben Sandwich:

Per Sandwich:
2 slices rye or pumpernickel bread
4 oz. corned beef, thinly sliced
2 oz. swiss cheese, thinly sliced
2-4 oz. sauerkraut, heated (see *note)
Thousand Islands Dressing, above
1 tbs butter or olive oil, divided

Create sandwich by spreading Thousand Islands Dressing on one of the slices of bread.  Upon the dressing, layer the corned beef, swiss cheese, and sauerkraut.  Cover with remaining slice of bread and set aside while preparing the pan. Place butter or oil in a cast iron skillet or frying pan and heat to medium, allowing butter or oil to heat through.  Place sandwich in pan, press down with spatula, and toast until golden brown on the underside (about 2 minutes).  Turn over with spatula and repeat with remaining side, toasting until golden and the cheese has melted.  Remove from heat and serve.

*Note – Personally, I like to gently heat the sauerkraut in a small saucepan ahead of time to ensure that it is nice and warm in my grilled sandwich, but this is entirely optional.

As always, thanks for stopping by.  For those of you who may have never tried this sandwich before, do give it a try… it is delicious.  And for those of you who, like myself,  consider this a personal favorite, be sure to treat yourself to this delicious and satisfying sandwich.

Until next time everyone…

May your plates be abundant and your house filled with love and happiness! 

Smoked Oyster Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Roasted Red Pepper Puree and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

A few weeks ago I found myself mulling over what to do with a head of cabbage and some tomatoes I had on hand that needed to be used.  I immediately thought of stuffed cabbage rolls, one of my favorites, but decided that I wanted to create something unique and different.  The recipe that follows is what I came up with and I have to give kudos to myself because this dish is absolutely delicious!  The first time I made this I used a sherry vinaigrette.  Yesterday, however, I thought what a great Irish recipe this could be and decided to use a warm bacon vinaigrette in place of the other vinaigrette to really bring out the Irish flavors.  Since I have Irish blood in my veins I thought this would be a great dish to prepare in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, which is exactly what I did!

Smoked Oyster Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Roasted Pepper Puree and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
Smoked Oyster Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Roasted Red Pepper Puree and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

I do want to point out, as you will see, this is not a quick recipe.  There is quite a bit of work involved, but much can be done a day ahead…right up to preparing the cabbage rolls, all ready to pop in the oven the next day.  I have made note of this in the recipe.  The only dish that needs to be prepared on the day of serving is the warm bacon vinaigrette, which is very easy and quick to prepare and can be done shortly before removing the cabbage rolls from the oven.


For the Smoked Oyster Stuffed Cabbage Rolls:

Ingredients

3 C sweet onion, finely chopped
4 C tomato (approximately 6 large), peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 head roasted garlic, prepared as instructed below (or 4 cloves fresh, minced)
2 – 3.75 oz cans Smoked Oysters in Cottonseed Oil
1/2 C fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped (or 2 tsp dried)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tsp salt
8 Large green cabbage leaves, prepared as instructed belowDirections

To Prepare the Cabbage Leaves:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the entire head of cabbage. Allow to boil for approx. 15 minutes, until the outer leaves have softened and making them easier to peel. Remove from the boiling water, place in a strainer, blot dry with a paper towel, and allow to cool. Once cool, carefully remove the leaves (I usually remove a few extra just in case one of the leaves rips). Using a sharp knife carefully slice the thicker part of the core away (do this in an inverted V shape), carefully leaving the majority of the leave intact. Set aside to prepare the smoked oyster stuffing. (Note – these can be made 1-2 days ahead of time and stored flat until ready to use.)

For the Roasted Garlic:

Roasting garlic is easy and the taste is sublime.  The roasting process softens the garlic flavor and adds a touch of smokiness. (I usually do a couple of heads at a time to be used for a variety of other dishes.) For this stuffed cabbage recipe it adds a further smoky undertone, enhancing the flavor of the smoked oysters.  However, if you don’t wish to do this step feel free to substitue fresh garlic in the amount listed above.  (Note: this too can be prepared 1-2 days ahead of time and stored in the fridge in its foil until ready to use.)
  1. To roast, take one large, unpeeled head of garlic. Thinly slice and remove the top head of the garlic to slightly expose the cloves. Rub the entire head of the garlic with olive oil and liberally sprinkle with coarse ground kosher salt and black pepper. Wrap in a small square of aluminum foil and place in the oven. Roast in a 400 deg. oven for 40 minutes, remove, and allow to cool slightly before removing from foil. Once cooled, remove from foil and set aside. When ready to use simply squeeze the whole head of garlic with your hand, turning the top upside down while gently pushing out the softened garlic.

For the Smoked Oyster Stuffing:

  1. In a large saute pan, cook the 4 bacon slices until crisp.  With a slotted spoon remove the bacon strips from the pan (reserving the bacon drippings). When cool crumble the bacon and set aside. Add 1 tbsp of the reserved drippings back to the pan (saving the rest of the drippings for the warm bacon vinaigrette) along with 1 tbsp olive oil and place on medium high heat. Once heated, add the chopped onion and saute for 1 – 2 minutes, just until onion begins to soften and becomes slightly translucent. Reduce heat to medium low and continue cooking the onions, stirring occasionally, for another 5-8 minutes, until very soft and translucent, being careful not to brown the onions.
  2. Add the chopped tomato, roasted garlic and salt. Continue cooking for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, allowing the tomatoes to cook to a very soft consistency.
  3. Gently stir in the smoked oysters (along with the cottonseed oil in which they were packed), the fresh parsley and basil and continue cooking until heated through, approximately 3-5 minutes. Remove from stove and allow to cool. (Note – this too can be made a day ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to assemble the cabbage rolls, or you can assemble the rolls, as follows, and store in the prepared pan 1 day ahead of time – all that will be left on serving day is to place it in the oven and prepare the warm bacon vinaigrette.)

To Stuff the Rolls:

  1. Place one prepared cabbage leaf on a flat surface and place the smoked oyster filling (about 1/4 c) onto the bottom third of the leaf, spreading out to within 1/2″ of each side of the leaf. Begin rolling the leaf away from you, tucking the sides onto the roll as you go.
  2. Once rolled, place seam side down in a greased 9×13 pan on which you have spread a thin layer (about 1/4 c) of the roasted pepper puree (recipe follows), repeating with the remaining cabbage leaves until you have 8 cabbage rolls.  Lightly sprinkle the tops of the rolls with a few drops of water.
  3. Cover the pan with foil, place in a preheated 325 deg F oven and bake for 40 minutes.
  4.  Remove from oven, leaving covered while preparing the warm bacon vinaigrette (recipe below).

Roasted Red Pepper Puree:

Ingredients

1 10-oz jar roasted red peppers
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp sugar

Directions

  1. In a blender or food processor add all of the ingredients and process until smooth. Place in a bowl and set aside until ready to use. This makes approximately 1-1/4 cups of puree.

Warm Bacon Vinaigrette:

Ingredients

4 tbsp rice vinegar
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp dijon mustard
Dash fresh black pepper
4 slices smoked center-cut bacon, fried crisp and crumbled, drippings reserved
2 tbsp bacon drippings
10 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. In a small bowl mix together the rice vinegar, honey, dijon mustard, and dash of black pepper. Microwave on high power for 1 minute. Remove, stir in the crumbled bacon, then briskly whisk in the bacon drippings and olive oil. Serve immediately.

To Assemble the Completed Dish:

Place approximately 1/4 cup of the roasted pepper puree onto the plate.  Arrange two of the prepared cabbage rolls on top of the puree.  Drizzle the warm bacon vinaigrette over the top and serve.

Nutrition Information:

8 total servings, 2 cabbage rolls each
Per Serving:  721 calories, 45 g carbohydrates, 56 g fat, 17 g protein
(This is definitely a “splurge” dish, but great for company or any other special occasion.)