Until last year, I had never cooked salmon at home. We love the taste of salmon, and we especially love that it's chock-full of healthy Omega-3 fish oils...something important at Casa Garcia, since we have some cholesterol issues to deal with! I was excited that my local grocery store had salmon on sale this week, so I bought a fillet and decided to make us a nice dinner over the weekend. For inspiration, I went to one of my go-to recipe resources: Cooking Light's website. Every recipe printed in that fantastic magazine is located in one easy-to-navigate search tool. I can always find a fantastic recipe there...it never steers me wrong!
For this dinner, I once again took the mix-and-match approach: I tweaked the salmon from one recipe and served it over the creamy, cheesy grits from another recipe. The two paired beautifully, and you'd never guess this was a lightened-up dish! After about 20 minutes of prep time to make the spice rub and marinade early in the afternoon, this meal cooked in about 20 minutes when it was time to eat. Goodness, was this dish ever yummy...definitely worthy of serving to guests at a dinner party. But it's also perfect for eating in your jammies in front of the TV...with a big-eyed cat staring you down, hoping for a bite of salmon!!
Citrus-Spiced Seared Salmon Over Parm-Goat Cheese Grits
adapted from Cooking Light
Step 1: Combine the following ingredients in a glass measuring cup: 1/4 cup orange juice, the juice from one lime, 1 tbs. canola oil, 2 tbs. soy sauce, a few grinds black pepper, and 1 tsp. salt. Whisk to combine. Place 2 salmon pieces (3/4 lb. total) into a ziplock bag and pour the marinade over. Put the salmon in the fridge and let marinate for 2-4 hours.
Step 2: Make the spice rub by combining the following ingredients in a small bowl: 2 tbs. brown sugar, 1 tbs. chili powder, 1 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ginger, 1/4 tsp. allspice, and the zest of one lime. Stir well to combine and set aside.
Step 3: When you're ready to cook the salmon, heat 1 tbs. olive oil in a non-stick skillet over med-high heat. To get a good sear, it's important to give the pan a few minutes to get hot. While the skillet is heating, take the fish out of the marinade. Rub the top side of the fish with the spice mixture. When the skillet is hot, place the salmon spice-side-down in the pan. Let the salmon sear for 2-3 minutes, then flip over and cook for another five minutes or so. Place the cooked salmon on a plate and cover with foil while you make the grits.
Step 4: Bring 2 cups of chicken stock to boil in a large saucepan. Add 1/4 cup finely diced onion and cook for 5 minutes to soften. Add 1 cup grits to the pan, whisking to keep them from getting lumpy. Reduce heat to low and cook for five minutes. Add 1/3 cup parm-reggiano, 1-2 tbs. butter, and 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese. Stir until the goat cheese melts into the grits, and they are creamy. If the consistency seems a bit stiff, add 1/2 cup skim milk and whisk until smooth. I did this extra step, and the grits were the PERFECT consistency...similar to mashed potatoes!
To serve, place about 1/3 of the grits on a plate. Top with a piece of the salmon and serve with a healthy salad on the side to complete this casual gourmet meal. Note that the original recipe called for roasting the salmon in a 400F oven for 10 minutes instead of searing. With it being so hot that evening, I wasn't turning the oven on...so I decided to sear it instead. It was a good call, because the brown sugar in the rub gave the salmon a fantastic caramelized sear!
The salmon was very moist, with a nice mixture of spice and citrus flavor. And the grits? The pictures don't do them justice. They look sort of...well, like a plain white blob sitting on the plate. However, the flavor is sublime...the tangy, creamy goat cheese and the onion gave them fantastic flavor and texture. I ate the leftover grits for breakfast the next morning, and I'm already planning to make them as a side dish for dinner tomorrow night. I can't stop thinking about them. Yeah...they're that good!!