Recovered from your holiday hangovers yet? If you haven’t, you best suck it up, because the holiday party season is here and it’s time to get after it! This is the time of the year when many ignore boorish “moderation” and concentrate on having a little fun while consuming as much food and drink as they can force down their throats. And I, for one, approve wholeheartedly, but with one small caveat: QUALITY OVER QUANTITY!
And lucky for y’all, I’m here to offer a few delicious hints, tips and prods to save your delicate palate from the onslaught of mediocre, pedestrian fare on offer at most shoemaker events you’ll be attending.
I want to encourage each of my faithful readers to rise above the temptation of serving cheap, insipid, poorly prepared convenience foods. Rise above, brothers and sisters! Now is the time to show the world you can do more than just post on Instagram all day. Yes, rise above and show the world that when they come to your place, they will dine—not feed. Quality, freshness, creativity, delicacy and, most of all, good taste are what YOU are all about.
What better way to display your mad cooking skills than with a delectable, expertly cooked, tastefully presented filet of wild-caught Pacific salmon? Salmon, though not a local fish, is still one of the most popular fish choices in the 904. Why? Fat! Right, fat is flavor, baby, and it makes no difference if the animal walks, flies or swims, fat tastes great. Fat also renders the flesh of the animal of choice a bit easier to cook. As it melts, the fat actually protects the delicate meat from drying out if accidentally overcooked by a distracted, or intoxicated, host.
When you are purchasing salmon, keep in mind that Atlantic salmon is farm-raised, and most fish farming is not especially environmentally friendly. Whereas, the noble Pacific salmon are wild-caught, sustainable and, most important, much tastier and worth the extra cost.
Here are some suggestions to help you make Pacific salmon the absolute star of your little holiday soirée. First, unless you’re confident in your ability to create crispy skin without over-cooking the fish, then buy skin-off filets. Soggy skin is kinda nasty. Next, remember salmon has a strong flavor and can stand up to assertive sauces and aggressive seasoning. Salmon is not delicate. That’s why this tandoori marinade works so well.
When you cook the fish, make sure you towel off the marinade and then season the fish with a sprinkle of sea salt. Heat a large sauté pan with a bit of olive oil and place the filets presentation-side down. Sear until a deep red caramelized surface is achieved. Then turn the fish over and put in a 425˚ oven for about six minutes or until you see a specks of white fat emerging from the sides of the filets.
I like to serve these over a tangy romesco sauce with bright, crisp haricots verts and jicama salad.
Chef Bill’s Tandoori Salmon Marinade
•1/2 cup yogurt
•2 Tbsp. lemon juice
•3 tbs. lime juice
•2 garlic cloves, smashed
•2 Tbsp. ginger, grated
•1 Tbsp. sriracha
•2 Tbsp. olive oil
•6 four-ounce salmon filets
•Salt & pepper to taste
1. Mix all ingredients.
2. Rub the salmon.
3. Let it marinade for 2 to 4 hours.
Email Chef Bill Thompson, owner of Fernandina’s Amelia Island Culinary Academy, at firstname.lastname@example.org, for inspiration and to get Cheffed-Up!