Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fast and furious salmon

I'm sure I'm not the only one who is feeling burdened by this new summer heat. Nor am I the only one enticed to spend all her free time in the wonderfully cool, AC-equipped bedroom rather than in her sweaty, humid kitchen. Still, I couldn't imagine forfeiting my time in the kitchen just over some oppressive heat. And besides, we can easily reduce the time we spend in the kitchen by making simple, healthful dishes that don't require hours of lengthy prep or long, slow simmering to create. Hence the following dish that I whipped up for lunch yesterday. One pan, minimal prep, muy bueno!

Salmon fillet with mushrooms and onions
(serves 2)

- 1 large salmon fillet, skinless
- salt, freshly ground pepper, and red chili flakes to taste

- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 large vidalia onion, chopped
- 1/2 lb. (about 1 cup) white mushrooms, cleaned, destemmed and sliced
- 3 dried red chiles, or 1 fresh red chile, destemmed
- 2 sprigs fresh oregano, thyme, marjoram, or za'atar (wild oregano - I used my windowsill plant), or 1 tsp. dried herb of choice
- 1 lemon

1. Rinse the salmon fillet and pat dry. Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and chili flakes, and set aside. Place oven rack on top shelf and turn on broiler.

2. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat until melted. Add the onion and saute a few minutes, until they've softened a bit. Add the mushrooms and the whole chiles and continue cooking, lowering the heat to medium-low, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and the onions are transparent. Stir in the herb of your choosing.

3. Slice half of the lemon thinly and lay the slices on top of the salmon fillet. Raise the heat to high and clear a space in the skillet to slide the fillet in, making sure it makes contact with the skillet bottom.

4. Cook for about 4 minutes, or until the bottom and sides of the fillet are opaque. Remove the skillet from the stove and carefully place it on the top rack of the oven. Broil for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on your desired temperature (I did 5 minutes for a perfect medium-rare).

5. When finished, carefully remove the skillet from the oven (beware, it will be very hot!) and squeeze the remaining half lemon all over. Discard the whole chiles and serve the salmon and vegetables alongside a simple arugula salad.

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