Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Healthy Meals: Salmon with Pickled Cucumbers

About a year before I became pregnant with baby girl, I discovered this amazing recipe for Salmon with Pickled Cucumbers. It was in Food & Wine magazine and it was such a simple recipe involving lots of ginger, lime juice and fish sauce, yum! It became the meal we ate whenever I was feeling like I'd eaten too much sugar or meat or butter, which was at least once a week. I also loved eating the cucumbers with brown rice for lunch. Somehow I felt lighter and springier and so much more productive.

Everything changed when I got pregnant. I was lucky not to suffer from nausea or vomiting, but I suddenly couldn't stand fish of any kind and I couldn't eat anything with strong flavors. About 6 weeks into the pregnancy, I made this dish for the hubby and me and I nearly died. That was it. Three years ago was the last time I ate this dish because my aversion to it was so strong that it lasted for an entire year. Then, I forgot about it.

Well, this past Thursday night, I was cruising through Whole Foods and I noticed that the wild sockeye salmon was back and looking marvelous. I decided to buy some for dinner and then I remembered my long lost delicious pickled cucumbers. Even when I'm at the grocery store, I do my best to buy local so I compared and contrasted three different types of cucumbers, which are certainly not in season in the Northeast. However, I was able to find some from Florida, not perfect, but better than Mexico and California. Throughout the winter months, you're not only going to see root vegetables and meat coming from me. I try to be practical about my eating and, even when what I'm buying isn't technically local, I source it as close to home as possible.

Over the years, I've tinkered with this recipe here and there and I think you'll find it's the perfect antidote to all the sweets and heavy food we usually eat over the holidays and throughout the cold winter. There is something cozy about this dish. Enjoy!

Salmon with Pickled Cucumbers
(If a dish can cleanse the body, mind and soul, then this is it. Baby girl loves it too. To make a vegetarian version, just substitute tofu for the salmon. I do that sometimes just for fun!)

What You'll Need:

1 English Cucumber or 4 persian cucumbers (peel if waxed or thick skinned and slice very thinkly - I like to use a mandoline)
2-3 tbsp Sugar
2 tbsp plus 1tsp Fresh Ginger finely chopped
2 small Garlic Cloves minced
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
Fish Sauce
Fresh Lime Juice (2-3 limes)
1/3 cup water

1 pound Wild Salmon filets (with the skin and bones removed)
a head of garlic cloves all peeled

2 cups Brown Rice cooked

An hour or two before you want to eat, throw the sugar, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes into a bowl. Pound it and stir it with a pestle until it's pretty well mushed. Then add equals parts fish sauce and lime juice. Stir in the water and then add the cucumbers, gently pressing them down so that they are submerged. Let it sit until dinner.

An hour before dinner, set the rice to cook.

20 minutes before you eat, set a frying pan over a medium high heat and generously coat the bottom with oil. Set out the salmon filets and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Once the oil is shimmering, gently place the salmon in the pan salt and pepper side down. Add the garlic cloves. Cook for about 8 minutes per side or until cooked through, but juicy. Remove the salmon and let the garlic cloves cook a little longer if need be, but be careful not to cook them until their crunchy.

To serve, spoon some rice onto a plate, place the salmon on top, scatter some garlic cloves around and top with the cucumbers. I like smushing it all up together, but baby girl likes compartmentalized eating and tends to go for the salmon, then the rice and finally a cucumber or two.

Approximate Dinner Cost:
Groceries: $20
Cost per Meal: We got about 4 servings out of this meal at $5 each!

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  1. Now this sounds like a great flavor combination of the lime and ginger. And then cucumbers get "pickled" in this with the fish sauce...yum!

    Culinarily yours,

  2. Sounds wonderful, thanks for sharing!

  3. A new salmon recipe is always welcome!

  4. Thanks everyone! This tastes so good and is so good for you. I'm always baffled when I discover dishes like this one.

  5. this sounds simple & delicious and good to know that it works well with tofu as well..lime, ginger, garlic & red pepper flakes...what's not to like?

  6. Had never heard of this combination. Will have to try it. Saw Food Inc. yesterday and realized how important food source choices are.

  7. Sarah - Thank you! Yes, it's a great combo and very versatile. Let me know if you make it.

    Alexandra - Oh! I have yet to see Food Inc, but I've heard it's excellent. I am really careful about the foods I eat.

  8. Salmon any-way is good...I'll have to try this recipe~!

  9. Sheryl - let me know how it goes and what you think!

  10. This sounds like a great flavor combination. I would never have thought of pairing the two. Sounds wonderful. I want to prepare this.

  11. This looks delicious. I haven't been buying salmon bc it's so expensive right now but i'd like to try making this dish

  12. I only recently realized that Food & Wine wasn't as hoity-toity as I'd once thought, and I've loved recent issues; will try this some weekend maybe when I want something more than lemon juice and white wine on my salmon...

  13. This is something that I would never assume would go together, so I'm glad you created it for the rest of us to try and benefit from!

  14. I just found your blog and love it. This dish look outstanding, I am putting it on next week's menu right now.

  15. So glad you're reading, Shoshana! Thank you!

    Please let me know what you think of the salmon.



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