A bit late to the party (as I often am with these things), I'm finally reading Cheryl Strayed's Tiny Beautiful Things. It is a collection of some of her letters and responses as a then-anonymous advice columnist. This won't be the last you'll hear me mention it - I'm in love with how she writes. So frank and forward but not the least bit insensitive. Hugh refers to it as a self-help book because he sees me passionately underlining particular lines. It is not a self-help book, but somehow you feel empowered and encouraged after some of the entries, which I suppose is helping oneself. There is this one entry where she is responding to a young, struggling writer. She talks about overriding limitiations by simply producing. You must continue to work. "You will feel insecure... How much power you give those feelings is entirely up to you." I am not at home pecking away at the next great work of fiction, but giving power to feelings of insecurity, is something anyone who does anything even the least bit challenging can relate to. I think what I love about these stories, is even though none of them are mine, they make me think. My other favorite, "There is no why. You don't have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you're holding." Seriously! So good. Between not giving power to insecurity and playing your own cards, I'm repeating these lines to every friend I've been talking to lately about troubleshooting life. We're all hurting and struggling and experiencing joy and intimacy and tenderness in the scope of our days - sharing our stories makes the whole of it pretty incredible.
So this salmon. That deep, rich, ruby color is Copper River Sockeye. Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is considered one of your "best choices" as far as sustainable fish from the Marine Stewardship Council. It actually has a season which runs late spring through summer, depending on the species in particular. I've been holding onto a few salmon recipes waiting for the good stuff. I'm intrigued to try slow roasting a large filet for a dinner party and would like to do some blackened in a taco. It's rich as far as fish goes, and I know salmon isn't for everyone, but if you can get your hands on some fresh stuff this time of year, you may be persuaded. I put some chunks on a skewer and drenched it in a cool cucumber sauce. Next time I think I'll add more veggies, maybe some onion and bell pepper, to stretch them even further. I know there are only a couple salmon recipes in the archives here, so I hope this adds an idea to your healthy/easy week night dinner repetoire.
SALMON SKEWERS WITH CUCUMBER YOGURT SAUCE // Serves 4
I served these with a bit of quinoa that I mixed with a splash of oil, vinegar, a few chopped scallions and a basic green salad. Didn't feel a recipe was needed for those. Some rice would be nice, or even some warm toasty pita. For the sake of time, I put these under the broiler. They would be excellent on the grill, but I would just suggest using one of those top grates and oil it well as fish seems to stick to the BBQ annoyingly easily.
I am still getting Meyer lemons from my mom's tree. If you can find them, use them here. The pith is much more pleasant to eat and they are sweeter in general. Add more vegetables or change them up according to your taste.
- 8 skewers
- 1 1/2 lbs. Wild Alaskan Salmon, skinned and deboned
- 2 zucchini
- 2 lemons, sliced very thin and seeded
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/4 tsp. paprika
- 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- // yogurt sauce //
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper
- 1/2 of a large english cucumber, roughly chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
- zest of one lemon
- 3 Tbsp. fresh dill
- 2 Tbsp. fresh mint leaves
- 1 cup full fat greek yogurt
Preheat your grill or broiler. Soak the skewers in water if using wooden/bamboo ones. Prepare a parchment lined baking sheet.
Cut the salmon into 2'' chunks, you want them similar in size to cook evenly. Slice the zucchini into thin coins. Layer your skewers with a piece of salmon, a slice of lemon (folded in half), and a chunk of zucchini. Repeat three times, depending on the size of your skewers, and lay them on the baking sheet. Repeat the process with remaining ingredients.
In a small bowl, mix the oil, lemon juice, maple, salt, paprika, Italian herbs and red pepper flakes. Give it a little mix and brush the oil mixture liberally onto all sides of the skewered goodies. Move a rack to the upper third of the oven and broil the skewers on the sheet for about 8 minutes until the edges just begin to brown and the salmon feels barely firm. Salmon is best under opposed to overdone, so keep an eye.
To prepare the sauce, whirl the garlic in a food processor. Add the salt, pepper, cucumber, zest and give it a few pulses to chop. Add the dill, mint and yogurt and give a few more pulses to combine. The texture should be a bit chunky. Transfer to a small bowl and serve along with the skewers and grain of choice.