Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chili Lime Salmon with Pineapple Rice Salsa

This winter seems to be characterized by ever changing, always surprising weather. Today, the roadways are flooded, traffic lights are out across town and I struggled to get out of bed where I was snuggled up with Trevor, nice and warm. But yesterday? Yesterday, you would have thought that winter's weather was gone for good. Tomorrow, the sun and warmth (a high of 60?) is to return.

With it being more or less a sick week for Trevor and I, we decided to spend our Tuesday night in. We had tossed around the idea of seeing Wanderlust but thought it would be wiser to stay home for the night. That being said, we did eventually decide on a last minute trip to Dairy Queen for blizzards later - we were getting a little bit stir crazy. 

Our three day fruit frenzy last week reminded both Trevor and I just how great fresh pineapple can taste. Weis had them on sale last week - buy one get one free. At the time, I rolled my eyes as I put two in my cart. I had no idea what I would do with two pineapples in my apartment of 1. Surprisingly, they were eaten in a matter of days. Especially the second one, since I finally realized that pineapples have a core which must be cut out of them (who knew?!).

Imagine my surprise when I offered to cook Trevor dinner last night and his idea of dinner was pineapple and rice. If you've been following along for any amount of time, you probably know that pineapple and rice isn't an adequate challenge for me. But since the warm weather had me craving fish, I thought perhaps I could make a summer style dish that incorporated both rice and pineapple.

After searching for various recipes, I thought I'd make pineapple fried rice but everything I found required curry, coconut milk or some variation of thai ingredients. Not what I had in mind. Instead, I found a recipe for a pineapple rice salsa and figured that it would do.

Like I said, both pineapples were already eaten though so I had to make a trip to Giant. For those of you not in the York area, let me express to you my anger with my local Giant. They're remodeling and nothing is where it should be. Plus, an entire aisle has been dedicated to kosher foods for passover. (A great place to find gluten free goodies, might I add!) After running into Rachel and helping her find the pancake syrup which was tucked in the seasonal section, I grabbed a few ingredients and looked for fresh fish to use. I had planned to make tuna, or even red snapper if they had it but the only appealing fish was fresh salmon. (It was Giant, after all.)

Rather than simply cooking dinner at my apartment and taking it over to Trevor, he suggested that we cook together. Sometimes, I love having a chef for a boyfriend. Most times, that is. So between half a recipe and our two minds, we came up with the following dish, Chili Lime Salmon with Pineapple Rice Salsa. 

None of these photos are great - Trevor gets frustrated when I take too many photos of our food and it gets cold before we can eat. Do you blame him?
So, long story short - I was in a hurry but it at least gives you an idea of what to expect!
It's a mixture of sweet and spicy, and the perfect dish to welcome in some warm weather. It would be even better prepared over a grill in the summer but we have a few months to go. In the meantime, you can make it like this:

You will need the following ingredients:
2 Cups of Rice (brown, white, jasmine) - I chose to use Minute brand Brown Rice
2 Cups of Fresh Pineapple
6 Green Onions
2 Fresh Limes
2 Fresh Jalapeno Peppers
3 Tbsp of Fresh Cilantro
2 Cloves of Garlic
Chili Powder
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
Salt (preferably freshly ground Sea Salt)

Before doing anything else, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

To Make the Rice: 

  1. Make your rice. If you are using Minute Brown Rice, boil 1 3/4 cups of water with a little bit of salt. Add two cups of rice. Return to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer for five minutes. Then remove the rice from the heat and let it sit until you are ready to add the other ingredients.
  2. Chop the pineapple. Trevor and I couldn't agree on the best way to prepare the pineapple. I do it by cutting off both ends of the pineapple, I then cut it into quarters. Remove the core from each quarter. Cut the quarter down the middle into two halves - remove the skin and chop into fine pieces. You will need about one quarter of a pineapple to get between 1 1/2 and 2 cups of pineapple for this recipe.
  3. Chop your green onions. 
  4. Chop your cilantro. Try to keep your fresh herbs dry, they will cut better. I previously always chopped cilantro in my food processor but yesterday, Trevor taught me how to do it by hand - use whichever method works best for you. Feel free to use the stems and leaves for this recipe, both provide a nice flavor. You'll want about three tablespoons for your rice. Keep the extra for garnish and for future recipes.
  5. Mince your jalapenos. The jalapenos give this recipe a nice heat to it. I find it easiest to slice the peppers into thin slices and then remove the seeds. Be careful when preparing your peppers as the heat will stay on your fingers for hours - careful not to touch your eyes or mouth. If you don't like spicy foods, feel free to only use one pepper or even no peppers at all. You will want to finely mince the pepper slices.
  6. Crush and mince one or two cloves of garlic. 
  7. Mix together the rice, pineapple, green onions, cilantro, jalapenos and garlic.
  8. Add Lime. Take a lime and cut it in half. Squeeze all of the juice into your rice mixture, then place the squeezed half of the lime and bury it under the rice.
  9. Place on the stovetop over low heat while the salmon is cooking. Feel free to add salt and pepper to your taste. 

To Prepare Your Salmon:
We bought a filet of salmon which was just over a pound - this made three nice sized portions of fish. You can feel free to use whatever size you feel is appropriate. You can also substitute a different type of fish if you prefer or if you have better access to fresh fish than we do here in central PA - just note that cooking times will vary if you aren't using salmon.

  1. Skin the fish. The filet we purchased came with the skin still on. You will want to remove this before cooking the fish, obviously.
  2. Make sure the fish is dry. After sitting in a package, your fish filet may be covered in condensation. Take paper towels and make sure to get your filet nice and dry.
  3. Slice into appropriate sized portions.
  4. Rub the filet with garlic. We simply crushed a clove of garlic and then rubbed it on the outside of the filets.
  5. Prepare a rub for your fish. Trevor created his rub out of chili powder but also added his own special blend of seasonings, affectionately called "Trevor Kondor Season All". Feel free to use ingredients like black pepper, lemon pepper, old bay, or whatever you think would work best to create your own seasoning! It's easiest to create the rub on a paper plate which can just be tossed after using. 
  6. Coat the sides of your fish in the seasoning mixture. 
  7. Squeeze one half of a fresh lime over the fish. 
  8. Heat a pan for your fish. Everyone should have a good fish pan and I highly recommend using one for this. If you don't have a specific pan set aside for fish, make sure you choose a fairly large skillet with a handle that can be put in the oven. You will want to heat the pan over medium to high heat. You can see if the pan is hot enough by adding a drop of water - if the water evaporates in a second or two, it is hot enough. If the water skitters around the pan first, the pan is too hot and should be allowed to cool off of the burner for about thirty seconds. 
  9. Add oil to your pan and make sure that its nicely coated before adding your fish. 
  10. Cook the salmon for two minutes without touching it. After the two minutes passes, use a spatula to lift the corner of a filet. If it is nicely browned and releases from the pan easily, flip it over. 
  11. Brown the other side of the salmon by cooking it for one minute. Then transfer your skillet to the oven which should be heated to 400 degrees.
  12. Bake the salmon for 4 - 7 minutes, until done. The length of time to bake your salmon will depend on the thickness of the filets. 

When your salmon is finished, remove the rice from the stove and plate the two together! Feel free to sprinkle the dish with some of the extra fresh cilantro you chopped or to garnish it with a fresh strawberry or a slice of lime. Then, eat dinner with someone you love! (That's the important part.) Also feel free to follow dinner with dessert. In our case, dessert came in the form of a large heath bar blizzard and a mini chocolate cherry blizzard. Can you guess who had which? And did I mention.. this recipe is naturally gluten-free and also free of 7 of the 8 top allergens (peanuts, eggs, soy, milk, wheat, tree nuts and shellfish). Plus, it has no added fat (other than the oil used to prepare the fish) or sugar. Hopefully you'll enjoy this recipe! I know that we found it to be delicious and a great way to start getting in shape for the summer season quickly approaching.

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