May 7, 2009

broiled salmon, japanese style

i was dead tired yesterday. it has been a week of one too many. as in one too many baseball games, choral and orchestra concerts, dress rehearsals, all town practices, important luncheons, orthodontist appointments, etc. i didn't have much or hardly any sleep. things were not going well. some things weren't working, some things were working too much. traffic was bad. we were completely out of edible food. (they do eat more now, these growing children, i confess i can barely keep up). oh yes we had some rotting produce in the fridge and some pasta and rice of course. but nothing you could actually get excited about eating or cooking. so, on the way home from one of these important luncheons i ran into a grocery store with no plan. no plan whatsoever. incapable of stringing two thoughts together, i looked around. what could we possibly eat after baseball practice ends at 7:30 that takes no time at all? as we will be busy driving to and from this baseball practice that starts at 6? ah yes. broiled salmon. even an extremely tired zombie cook could make this. after practice, we all sat down to dinner. my son, the baseball player, took a bite. "and, mom."  yes, i replied? tiredly, oh so tiredly. "delicious!" he said with a sly grin. 

japanese broiled salmon
adapted from Harumi's Home Cooking, an amazing, truly amazing, cook and book, of course, being me, i've changed both the amounts and the ingredients, but buy her cookbook, it's fantastically brilliant. harumi kurihara is known as the "martha stewart of japan" 
serves 4 hungry people

1 and 1/2 pound salmon fillet, tail end
soy ponzu marinade
lemon slices
1/2 cup of soy sauce or tamari sauce
1/4 cup of mirin
1/4 cup of ponzu marinade from japanese grocery store (clear liquid brand i use is Marukan)

(if you don't happen to have any ponzu marinade on hand...i know i rarely do...i use a mixture of lemon and/or  lime juice, rice vinegar and water or sake and to approximate it. this works equally well, have made this many many ways based on what i have on hand and it is always inexplicably delicious regardless. it must be a bit of magic, but then japanese cooks are magicians with fish, no surprise there)

cut up your lovely salmon into largish chunks with kitchen shears (could use halibut or sea bass etc) and keep the skin on by all means, it really adds to the dish. marinate in soy ponzu marinade with sliced lemons for at least 2 hours, 4 is best.

throw together a veggie stir fry (i used a mixture of cabbage, bean sprouts, peppers, mushrooms and scallions this time). or any other crowd pleasing and easy vegetative accompaniment like maybe broccoli. serve with plenty of japanese rice. start your rice cooker 45 minutes before. if you don't have one, you must cook it in the usual way on the stove, of course. cooking lots of asian food as we do it is the one gadget i own that i couldn't part with, not even for ready money...this is probably because i have a tendency to get distracted with homework questions, ringing phones, etc and can forget i am cooking quite easily, rice can be rather cruelly unforgiving to the distracted cook. 

15 minutes before dinner, set your broiler to high and move the top rack as high as possible in the oven. 5 minutes before serving. put the fish under the broiler. check after 3 minutes. check again at 4 minutes. it should be done around the 5 minute mark all carmelized, crispy, gorgeous and sizzling. however, broilers are highly variable, so you will have to watch it. burns quickly if you don't. also, when buying salmon, i mostly select the tail end, which has fewer bones, important for smallish or choosy children. this salmon is so pleasing, people who don't even like fish tend to enjoy it. 

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