Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sweet chili-glazed salmon with sugar snap peas and jasmine rice

This one's a winner all around. Quick, simple, and healthy as all get out.

Tilapia and salmon are my "everyday" fish - we generally have them each at least once a week. Go to the freezer section of your local price club (I've found the Costco in Texas to be greatly inferior to the Costco in California, but the Sam's Club is great, so we've made the switch) and grab a bag of each. They're individually vacuum-wrapped in perfect portions. When I can afford Whole Foods salmon at $18.99/lb, that's what I'll be buying. Until then, I'm all about the Sam's Club freezer section. Get a bag of raw shrimp in there while you're at it.

I have actually not planted sugar snap peas in my garden, and this recipe makes me regret it. I guess I hadn't had them in so long, I forgot how tasty they were. Sigh. I need a bigger garden. The Master Farm Plan is coming together. Legalities are being filed, but we're still working on finding the land (a rather important component, wouldn't you say? Which is why it has to be juuust right.) Once the farm is blooming I won't be left wanting for homegrown sugar snap peas, no sirree! But until then, I'd totally use green beans and stop whining about it.

Sweet chili sauce is a staple condiment in Asian kitchens. I got about a liter of it for $1.99 at my Asian market. You do know where your Asian market is, don't you? [If not, Google map your location, then do a "search nearby" for Asian market.] It makes a great spring roll dipping sauce just on its own, which is probably where you would recognize the flavor from.

1/2 cup jasmine rice

8 oz sugar snap peas (I don't measure this stuff. It came in an 8 oz bag, and that fed both of us)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced or microplaned (chop 2 tbsp, since you need some for the sweet chili glaze below)
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin (sweet Chinese rice wine) or white wine
1 tsp sesame oil

2 tbsp Asian sweet chili sauce
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp ginger, minced or microplaned
2 salmon fillets

Preheat your broiler on low. I pretty much never use my broiler on high, it's just too much heat - but yours might be different.

Bring a small pot of water to boil, then salt it and add your jasmine rice. Cook it according to the package directions. When it's done, drain into a metal sieve and stick the whole sieve back in the pot with a lid on to steam up nice and fluffy (turn the heat off, the residual heat of the pot without any water in it will make the rice steam itself).

While your rice is cooking, rinse and pat dry your salmon. Season on both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and place them on a baking sheet (I like to wrap mine in a layer of foil for instant cleanup). In a small bowl, whisk together the sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, and ginger. I'm aware they're are people sharing this planet that dislike ginger... I choose not to acknowledge them. Spoon the glaze over your salmon fillets and allow to sit at room temperature while you get everything else together.

Heat a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil plus the sesame oil in a non-stick skillet on medium heat. Definitely don't use all sesame oil, that stuff is potent (but extremely delicious in small doses). Saute your garlic and ginger for a few minutes (you may need to turn down the heat - garlic burns easily, and there's no saving it at that point), then add your sugar snap peas. This is a good point to pop your salmon under the broiler, too. Set a timer for 6 minutes, unless your fillets are very thin, in which case set it for maybe 4 minutes. Allow your sugar snaps to cook for 5 minutes or so, tossing every once in a while, until bright green and lovely. Hit with a pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Then add in your soy sauce and mirin and allow to cook another minute or two. By now, the smell should be making you seriously want to eat those freaking peas. They were crazy tasty for being that simple. Next time, I might double the soy sauce and mirin so there's a little more sauce for the rice.

Check your salmon. It should be served medium, at most. If it's a little soft to touch and flakes, it's done. If it's firm, it's cat food. But I usually eat it anyway.

Plate up a mound of rice and smother with your lovely gingery garlicky sugar snap peas. Add your salmon and pat yourself on the back for your virtuous eating habits.

Serves 2, takes half an hour tops. Excellent for a weeknight.

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