Dinner in 25 minutes

lemonLast night, I made pan-fried wild-caught Alaska pink salmon with shawarma spice rub, steamed spinach, basil basmati rice, and lemon-garlic drizzle sauce.  All in less than half an hour, but for the first time since the holidays, I used all four stove burners at once.  Here is how!  This is the version for 2 persons, easily modified to suit. 

T-25 minutes: Fill and start the kettle, get a small sauce pan onto a back burner, put 1-2 Tbsp (15-30 mL) butter, a pinch of salt, and 1 tsp (5 mL) dried basil in.  When the water comes to a boil, pour 1.5 cup (375 mL) in the sauce pan and bring to a gentle boil until the butter has melted.

T-20 minutes: Pour in 3/4 cup (185 mL) basmati or jasmine rice in the boiling water, cover, and let simmer on very low heat.

While the rice is cooking, trim, clean and drain the spinach; place in a steamer basket inside a pan, ready to start.

Pacific Northwest SalmonClean and trim the salmon fillets; I used pink because it’s wild-caught, inexpensive, and relatively sustainable on the West Coast.  Coat the salmon pieces in a rub of your choice: curry, vadouvan, ras-el-hanout, berbere, etc. are all nice choices if you have pink or Atlantic salmon, which are not the most flavourful; but a nice Coho (silver), sockeye or Chinook (King) salmon, or a wild-caught steelhead or cutthroat trout, might deserve a more discreet spice mix — maybe even just salt and pepper.

T-10 minutes: Start a cast-iron skillet on medium-high heat on a front burner and let the pan get hot for about one minute.  Meanwhile, put 3-4 Tbsp (45-60 mL) olive oil or butter in a small saucepan on low heat to start the drizzle sauce.

Put 1-2 Tbsp (15-30 mL) olive oil in the very hot skillet (carefully, watching out for splash) and let it get hot; place the salmon fillets in, skin-side down, and cook for 4 minutes.

While the salmon cooks, put 1 Tbsp (15 mL) chopped, crushed or grated onion or garlic in the hot oil or butter along with 1 tsp (5 mL) of the same spice mix you used as rub on the salmon, and brown for a minute.  Start the kettle again, it should still be pretty hot.  Turn off the burner under the rice pan but keep covered.

T-5 minutes: Turn the salmon in the pan.  Pour some boiling water onto the spinach, just enough to steam it, cover, and steam on low heat.  Finish the drizzle sauce by adding 2-3 Tbsp (30-45 mL) fresh lemon juice (or balsamic vinegar) and cooking for a few moments more on very low heat, mixing well.  Check the “doneness” of the salmon fillets.

Ding!  It’s ready.  Fluff the rice with a fork.  Serve the salmon with a good scoop of rice and a portion of spinach; drizzle some sauce onto the salmon and spinach.

As you can see, it’s easy to vary flavours by changing the spices, the side vegetable, and the acid in the sauce.  The rice and the drizzle sauce can also be cooked in the microwave, using fewer burners if you have a small stove.

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