miso marinated salmon and pea puree
Let me tell you right now, the photos I took for this week's blog post are objectively horrendous! It looks like something out of a microwave gourmet book from 1982! But like, you could go literally anywhere on the internet and find beautiful food photography, where else are you going to get the innovation of fizzingly good writing paired with completely disgusting photos that do a total disservice to both the quality of the writing and that about which I write? Honestly I nearly considered not posting about this recipe but if I learned anything from doing ballet since the age of three it's that the show must go on. There's only one word for my actions here, and that is: so brave.
proof that I at least tried to take these photos and didn't just cut them out of a 70s cookbook that had been not particularly recently dropped in a puddle (also: the perils of me cooking for you - having to wait for me to photograph everything.)
So, because of the hours I keep at my recently-acquired job, I never ever get to cook dinner anymore. I love my job! But also I love cooking dinner. So much. When I first started flatting nine years ago I used to kick up such a fuss if I missed out on one night of cooking dinner, because apparently I was an enormous brat, but at least in a way that reaped useful dividends. Now I'm lucky if I get to cook dinner once a fortnight. I know it's more or less a chore and as such a weird thing to complain about, but as Selena Gomez said, the heart wants what it wants. On Sunday night I was able to combine my love of cooking dinner with another favourite activity, cooking dinner for other people: in this case, my excellent and marvelous girlfriend. Since I was spiralling this disproportionately into such a high-stakes occasion, I turned to my desert-island book, the seminal text How To Eat by Nigella Lawson.
I latched onto a recipe for homemade beef carpaccio but when I went to buy the required piece of tail-end beef the price made me scream repeatedly, so I went with a second option, which was an entirely more affordable miso marinated salmon with pea puree (combining bits of two separate recipes from different chapters of How To Eat, based upon what I had already in the fridge.)
the alpha and the omega-3
I love salmon fillets, all tender and pinky-coral and oily, but the oiliness can be disconcertingly, lung-cloggingly present. Fortunately this marinade not only cuts through that, but it also adds layers upon layers of vehemently meaty yet subtly sweet flavour, in the form of miso paste, that magical and mysterious stuff, and coconut sugar, which has its own elusive, deep-toned caramel vibe. Lemon juice and vinegar lighten it up and briskly stop it from being altogether too much of an intense onslaught, and all you have to do is flash it under a hot grill for the skin to turn crisp and chewy - like pork crackling but thin and delicate as rice paper - and the flesh below to become utterly tender.
seriously this lighting is so bad, I need to remember how to take photos under regular lightbulbs again since it's dark 90% of the time these days, thank you for continuing to read this far
I have a tendency when I get the opportunity to cook for people I hold dear to be all pending-apocalypse about it, like, let's eat a vat of pasta big enough for a moose to comfortably nestle in and then we'll have seven different puddings and also here are several side dishes all involving fried potatoes and toasted nuts. This time around I wanted something that wouldn't bring on that frantic feeling of having consumed twelve kilos of food, so went for a weightless pea puree alongside, made luscious with butter and mascarpone. It's billowingly soft and creamy and works quite perfectly with the salmon, honestly I could eat a whole bowlful of it on its own (and in fact I did the next day with the leftovers.)
when even instagram can barely embiggen your lighting situation you know you're in trouble
miso-marinated salmon with pea puree
adapted from a couple of recipes from Nigella Lawson's important book How To Eat
two salmon fillets, around 150g eachone heaped tablespoon white miso paste
one heaped tablespoon coconut sugar (if you can't find it, use brown sugar or better yet, palm sugar)
one tablespoon apple cider vinegar
the juice of a lemon
two cups frozen peas
150g mascarpone (or use creme fraiche or even sour cream or a little actual cream)
salt and pepper to taste
Mix the miso paste, sugar, vinegar and lemon juice together and smear across both sides of the salmon. What I did was roughly mix the stuff together in the dish I was planning to marinate the salmon in and then kind of schmeered it on the salmon from there before just leaving it in said dish to sit and absorb the flavour, this saves on dishes but is admittedly kind of hard to explain. Leave this to sit for at least half an hour.
Set your oven to grill (broil, I do believe it's called in America?) and turn the heat up high. Meanwhile, bring the peas to the boil in a pan of water, and cook until they're very, very tender. Remove the salmon from the marinate and wipe gently with a paper towel. Place the salmon onto a baking paper lined oven tray, skin side up. Drizzle over a little oil (I used olive) and put them in the oven, grilling them for around 5 to 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, drain the peas and blitz them in a food processor with the butter (the heat should melt the butter sufficiently) before adding the mascarpone and blending again till it's a smooth green puree.
Serve the salmon alongside the puree with whatever salad leaves you fancy. Serves two.
if I wasn't supposed to make this obnoxious caption then why does pea puree rhyme with bae?
It was so, so delicious. And incredibly simple. A combination I appreciate. And now that I've overanalysed it a few times, these photos aren't thaaaat bad. They are in fact, unequivocally hideous. Location-based discomfort aside, I feel like maybe I should take all food photos in the bathroom from now on, since the light in there is so good for selfies.
I mean really.
guess which one of us is genteel and which one of us is a plate-licking heathen (for the sake of not slandering anyone I'm the heathen, it's me, but in my defence spatulas are not considered to be cutlery so what's a gal to do?)
Cheers for bearing with me during this difficult time, people, clearly I need to cook dinner more often so I can remember how actually to take photos of dinner. But I got to cook dinner at all and it was ridiculously delicious and made for a dreamy evening, and despite everything, that is actually what counts.
Yesterday on another rare night off I went to my friend Pinky Fang's first solo art gallery opening with said excellent gf, and met lots of other swell friends there and ate the most amazing candy and drank wine from plastic cups and it was all very very fun. But more important than wine and candy (it's true) is that Pinky's artwork collection is incredible! I'm so proud of her! If you're in Wellington you should absolutely definitely go to Thistle Hall this week while her show is running and if you're not in Wellington you can at least access some of her massively rad works from her online shop (I have the "shut up" cat print on my wall and can highly recommend having its presence in your life.) Yay art and friends and good times!
title from: Lovecats by The Cute. Uh, I mean The Cure. But if you're gonna write a song this wilfully adorable you're gonna have me to deal with.
Zendaya, Replay. This song is so great with such a head-swingingly big chorus and I love a dance-in-front-of-the-mirror music video to be quite frank.
Scritti Politti, The Sweetest Girl. This 1981 song is unsettling but sweet, dreamy but sinister, I adore it.
next time: I mean I very rarely cook dinner these days so the chances of me having to deal with unruly nighttime light anytime soon are slim but I'll work on it either way, promise.