Go ahead, wrinkle your nose in disgust. I had the same reaction the first time someone mentioned a recipe that called for canned salmon. Isn’t that akin to 9Lives or Friskies, but for people? The thought of salmon in a can might get Morris the cat excited, but not a foodie like me.
This particular recipe, for Ginger Cilantro Salmon Cakes, ended up being served at an event here in D.C., where a number of chefs in attendance apparently tasted the salmon cakes and gave them rave reviews. Now THAT got my attention. Surely all these accomplished chefs, with palates more refined than mine, couldn’t all be wrong, or could they? To satisfy my curiosity, and to disprove the preposterous idea that canned salmon could actually be edible, I decided to put the recipe to the test at home.
You’ve heard of the blue-plate special, right? In the early half of the 20th century, restaurants and diners across the country often advertised a daily blue-plate special – a bargain-priced meal or daily selection that promised a full belly for a song. My own leaner times have compelled me to create what I’ve come to refer to as “the pantry special.” It’s all about making do with what you have on hand. Creating a pantry special goes something like this: open pantry, scan shelves, grab a few ingredients, and whip them into something edible. This resourceful kind of cooking was second nature for our penny-pinching, Depression-era grandparents or parents, but if you know the secret, delicious pantry specials are within anyone’s reach.
What? Brussels sprouts for dinner?
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Brussels sprouts? If your early experiences with them were anything like mine, you might shudder to recall a dull green, mushy, stinky excuse for a vegetable—something to be assiduously avoided at all costs.
As I noted in an earlier post, finding those unappetizing-looking orbs on my plate was cause for subterfuge…namely, stuffing them in my pockets when my parents weren’t looking, so they could be properly disposed of in the toilet. Others find them disagreeable because of their propensity to cause potential “embarrassment,” so you might want to stay away from them if you’re on a hot dinner date.
This was one of my favorite, go-to dishes all summer long, but it’s got potential year-round. Thank you Mark Bittman for yet another simple and tasty recipe.
Recipe: Vietnamese-Style Portobello Mushrooms – NYTimes.com.
A few tips and tweaks:
- Pan: apartment dweller that I am, I don’t have a grill, so I use a hot grill pan on the stove.
- Herbs: I tend to have cilantro around more often than mint, so that’s what I use.
- Oil: I use canola instead of peanut.
- Marinade: more time in the marinade means more flavor, so I let the mushrooms soak it up in the fridge for at least an hour, sometimes up to three.
- Serving: I serve the mushrooms over rice (usually white, but jasmine is probably better), and more importantly, save the marinade and pour it over the rice before serving. LOTS of extra flavor that way.