Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sweet and Sour

You've been heard, stinkycheesers! It's time for a break from the chicken. Fair enough. And if y'all are willing to trust Mr. Nostinkycheese's judgment, I'll even experiment with red meat; I don't eat it myself (long story about having lived in West Africa in college), but he's an enthusiastic consumer and I'm happy to give the cooking a whirl. You're on your own for shellfish, though - my commitment to Nostinkycheese ends where my allergies begin. Love ya anyway.

Last week's grouper recipe was a keeper. SO good. So let's keep with the fish theme for a little bit - salmon is super easy to find and incredibly versatile. Oh, and it's pretty, which is always a plus.

Speaking of versatility, this recipe also works extremely well with tuna steaks. Also pretty. Kind of the same color as the ruby grapefruit I'm doing battle with right this very second. No wonder grapefruit is a diet food - out of a half-pound fruit you can only get an ounce of sustenance out of the damn thing and wear the rest.

Moving on....

I don't usually order anything sweet & sour in restaurants, because they seem to forget about the sour. One of the very few times I've sent food back was when there were actual sugar crystals on my sweet & sour chicken. EEEEWWWW.

This 2004 Cooking Light recipe is one of the few I haven't embellished in any way - but of course, that doesn't mean you shouldn't. And if you want to report back your results, so much the better!

For some reason I'm compelled to always serve fish with rice. Personally, I'd serve this with plain rice and not last week's Rice/Baby Bok Choy salad - I'd let this sauce stand on its own without competition. Steamed broccoli is fabulous on the side. So is asparagus.

If you have a Costco nearby that's almost certainly your best deal on salmon (unless, of course, you have a salmon stream nearby). We're a two-person household so we just split up the big Costco sizes into two-person servings and freeze. There's controversy about farmed salmon vs. wild caught (I guess they don't call fish "free range", do they?). I'm not entering the debate, just saying that wild caught will be more expensive and usually tastier, but I eat farmed salmon all the time. Dang, food has gotten political.

Salmon with Sweet-and-Sour Pan Sauce
Cooking Light

1 TBSP vegetable oil (or canola oil)
1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth (have you seen the small juice-size boxes of chicken broth? FANTASTIC for these small uses)
2 TBSP brown sugar
2 TBSP fresh lime juice (bottled is fine)
1 TBSP low-sodium soy sauce
1 TBSP fish sauce - available in the Asian foods section of your supermarket
2 garlic cloves, minced - don't use dried garlic, it will taste metallic
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, about 1 inch thick
salt & pepper

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over low heat.

2. Combine broth, brown sugar, lime juice, soy sauce, fish sauce, and garlic in a small dish. Whisk to combine (use a fork if you don't want to dirty a whisk), and set aside.

3. Increase heat to medium-high, and heat 3 minutes.

4. While pan heats, sprinkle fillets with salt and pepper. Add fillets to pan, cook 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. With both salmon and tuna the color will change - it will become more opaque and less red.

5. Drain fat from fan and discard fat. Add broth mixture to pan, scraping to loosen browned bits (note - you only get browned bits when you cook with a stainless steel pan. If you use nonstick you'll have "stuff" on the pan, but not the cook-treasured browned bits. Still tastes good.).

Bring to a boil, cook 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Serve sauce over fish.

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