Monday, February 07, 2005

Salmon, and thoughts on rare meat

I'd never had wild salmon (I don't think) before Saturday, unless you count maybe a piece of sushi here and there. It costs twice as much as the farmed stuff, which gave me pause. On the other hand, the signs on all the farmed salmon saying "color added", and the sort of scuzzy taste of the farmed fish (it tastes sort of soapy to me), also gave me pause. So, since I was alone and free to stink up the apartment as I pleased, I decided to spring for some wild salmon. I got it from King Soopers - previously frozen, but I don't think it's salmon season and it looked better than the (more expensive) Wild Oats stuff.

Mark Bittman's The Minimalist Cooks Dinner had a good-looking recipe, "Roasted Salmon with Spicy Soy Oil". And yea, verrily, it was sublime. Wild salmon IS quite a bit better than the farmed stuff. No soapy taste, just fishy (naturally) pink goodness. The searing/roasting technique in the recipe was very easy - heat the oven to 500, heat my iron skillet on med. high, add a bit of oil, sear the fish for about a minute, then pop it in the oven for 6 minutes more.
Meanwhile, I sauteed some garlic and red pepper flakes in some grapeseed and sesame oils, then added some soy sauce. This got drizzled on the fish when it was done.

As I said, the searing/roasting technique worked wonderfully. I got salmon fillets cooked rare, but with crispy skin. As I was tucking into my slab of fish, I realized that I have really gotten to like rare meat. Maybe it was my conversion to sushi that did it, but now I like rare pork (don't worry, Mom and Dad, trichinosis is virtually non-existant in modern pigs), rare fish (it would have been a travesty to overcook that salmon!), and rare beef (mmmmmmm, bloody). In truth, it almost always tastes better than the well-done stuff. No longer do pink juices freak me out (although pink chicken still gives me the willies). Rare burgers are a little questionable; I have to really trust the quality of the place to get one.

It helps too, to realize that the bad bacteria lives on the surface of the meat, not in the interior. Therefore rare meat is fine health-wise (unless it's ground, then ya gotta be careful) - a good hard sear will kill all those little buggers on the outside and leave you pink tasty goodness inside.

Plus, it takes less time to get from fridge to table!


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