6 Quick Ways to Make Salmon

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Salade de jambon cru et saumon fumé. (salad of...

Salade de jambon cru et saumon fumé. (salad of ham and smoked salmon) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Everything we see these days is about “lose weight fast,” “get healthy,” or “tons of omega-3s!” What does it all mean ?

Your body needs certain poly/mono-unsaturated fats, and omega-3, omega-6, and omega-12 are these fats. They can be found in foods like avocado, salmon, nuts, and flaxseed.

It’s not about getting skinny, it’s about getting healthy. Some people like the thought of salmon but wish it were easier to make nutritious food with their busy lifestyles.

As long as you have a kitchen and basic appliances, you should be able to use at least 2 of these methods to make some mouth-watering fish.

1. Bake it

Take a filet and set your oven to 425 F. Wrap the filet in some foil and add whatever seasonings you like. My favorites are ginger, miso paste, and sesame oil. If you have a sweet tooth, you might like a combination of equal parts maple syrup, soy sauce, and orange juice. Take out the steak after 15 minutes, or less if you like it a little raw.

2. Poach it

Take a filet and season it with veggies, sauces, and powders. Curry and onion go well together. Throw it on a microwaveable plate and pop it in the box for 2.5 minutes (newer microwaves, full power) to 5 minutes (older microwaves, full power.) This is a quick and easy way to make healthy meals in a limited kitchen.

3. Fry it

Mi-cuit (half-cooked) salmon is a delicacy in many restaurants. If only people knew how simple it is to make at home ! No need to be scared of eating raw fish. Unlike meat, raw fish rarely makes people sick. You might not like the taste, but you won’t get sick from eating it. Just take a filet with the skin on and put it on a greased frying pan (olive oil and grape seed oil are going to be your healthiest options). For a mi-cuit cut, cook each side for 2 minutes on medium heat. For a well-done filet, cook each side for 5 minutes on medium heat.

4. Grill it

Grilled salmon is absolutely delicious. Wrap a filet in some foil and place it on your grill. Depending on how thick the piece is and how big the fire is, you might want to poke it with a fork and see if the metal comes out cold. If it’s cold, that means it’s still a little raw inside. If you do this right, you may see some charring on the salmon, which is perfectly normal.

5. Boil it

This is for people who like stews, soups, and very well-cooked protein sources. Boil a pot of water and place a salmon filet inside with a dash of salt. Cook on medium-low for 15 minutes or until the salmon is flaky and light pink.

6. Do nothing

That’s right, eat your fish raw. Some Westerners might cringe at the thought of eating raw fish, but as long as the product is good quality, this is actually the the healthiest option. Dip the fish in some soy sauce, wasabi, or lemon juice for a tart finish. Remember, the more you cook your meat, the less nutrients it retains.

That’s my mini-tutorial on how to eat salmon. I try to eat salmon once a day. Not only is it great for your hair and skin, but fish oil is known to improve mood and sleep patterns, too. What’s more, it’s a great source of Vitamin D for those of us who are not fortunate enough to live in a place where it’s sunny all year-round. Now that you know how to make salmon, you should go out and buy some for your next meal. Skimping on your health and the quality of your food is not a good idea. Make sure you buy the best, or close to it ! Skip dessert and buy some nice salmon steaks instead.

Did I miss a technique ? Let me know your favorite ways to make salmon.

Japanese Green Tea Chiffon Cake

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My family has a cake recipe that has been passed down so many generations that I call it the “cave era cake”. It has honey, walnuts, raisins, and is dark brown with a crispy crust. My grandma would bake it around New Year’s day to celebrate having a sweet new year of life. My father now makes it, but with one change : he uses sultana raisins instead of regular ones, to match the cake’s neutral colors.

When my grandma passed away, I decided to remake the cake based on a Japanese recipe for green tea chiffon cake. Even though this is a big departure from the honey nut cake of which my family is so fond, I knew I could make them appreciate it. After all, Asian cuisine is my favorite.
Green tea powder (can be found at most Asian supermarkets) has antioxidants and a distinctive taste, unlike honey, which is just intensely sweet.  Instead of castor sugar I used raw brown sugar, which is less processed than honey and white sugar. I also used baking soda and arrowroot powder instead of baking powder, which contains the harmful element aluminum. The new recipe called for vegetable oil, so I used grape seed oil, which has a higher omega-3 content than olive oil. The cave era cake always had butter, and although it felt strange departing from that tradition, I liked the idea of making something new.
The batter was so thick that it was stuck in the metal whisk I was using like gooey green algae. By the time I had cleaned the whisk to the best of my ability, I had some major doubts about this culinary endeavor. Had I made a mistake by using arrowroot powder, making dough that had too much gluten ? I put the goo in a pan and hoped it would turn out alright.
45 minutes later, the cake was perfectly browned on top and popped right out of the pan when I used a spatula to invert it. I let it cool for only two minutes and had a cup of green tea ready to go. In order to get the most out of this green tea cake, I would dip it in some authentic Japanese green tea and then consume it. Little did I know that this trick would cause me to eat much more cake than I had originally planned. Upon tasting my concotion, my family exclaimed “It’s like feathers !” And it was. The cake recipe calls for so little oil and sugar that it is light, spongy, and blissful going down the throat.
Family recipes get their beauty from their simplicity and connection to history; every ingredient means something to each member of the family unit. For me, green tea evokes memories of the Asian country in which we were born, and a minimalist lifestyle that values quality over quantity. As people change, so do their tastebuds. Recipes, then, must evolve to please people’s palates, and this is exactly why my family’s decadent honey cake has evolved in to an angelic green tea chiffon cake. It may not sound sensical, but it works for us.

Down with Food Porn

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My greatest internet weakness is food blogs. See, boredom used to propel me to go on my WordPress reader and RSS feed to check out the latest dishes random people had made in their kitchens, and then proceeded to devour. This was me trying to be rational, trying to counter my consumer impulse to buy by eating with my eyes.

Is it possible to be addicted to food porn ? Yes, yes it is. At my last job, I would send my boss links of food porn weekly until he said I had an obsession. He wasn’t half-wrong; I would look at pictures of dishes and discover new recipes until lunchtime. Don’t worry, I still got my work done. Instead of schmoozing on Facebook, though, I would look at creative concoctions and send them to people, hoping they got the hint and that some fresh pumpkin tiramisu would be waiting for me when I came over at the end of the week.

So eventually, I realized that my boss had a point. This was an odd hang-up. It would be a better use of my time to find things that contribute to my well-being instead of leaving me disappointed with the lack of gourmet goodies in front of me. The technological addiction had a deeper root, as well.

Victor Frankl says that we are driven by our most basic desires when our lives are lacking meaning and purpose. I pondered my situation and realized that outside of my 9-5 existence, I was not helping anyone or working towards a larger goal. I vowed to dedicate my time spent staring at aioli casserole and cayenne chorizo to making some kind of difference in my community. I was arrested in development, too focused on my own little bubble and not enough on the world around me. Once I got home, I enrolled in a volunteer program and started tutoring people. Ever since, I’ve been enjoying my food more and salivating in front of screens less. That, in my book, is progress.

Real American Cheesecake

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Nothing says ‘thank you’ like cheesecake. Chocolate and flowers are nice and easy, but impersonal. I had a brief stint as a hostess at the Cheesecake Factory in downtown Chicago my sophomore year of college, and that job made me despise the dessert. The truth is, though, I wanted to make a better version to show up my past. And that version would be New York style.

When I came back to Paris for work in August, I spent my first two weeks with a family very close to me that helped me through all the faux-pas and idiotic blunders that culture shock entails. I thought I’d never be able to pay them back.

Authentic American cheesecake is hard to find in France, even in Paris. To get the real thing, you need to shell out some hefty euros, and you have to know where to go. The French version of cheesecake is a lukewarm joke. My friend from Boston (cream pie) recommended a recipe to me, and I hesitated. Would the Frenchies like this indulgent Yankee treat ?

One Sunday, I mustered up my motivation and bought all the cream cheese off the shelf of my local grocery store. The Philadelphia cream cheese containers come in 150 g portions, and I snagged 5 of them along with 2 containers of a French brand called Elle & Vire. I figured that would be enough. Graham cracker pie crust is really obscure here, like Coachella or North Coast (not). Instead, I got some digestive biscuits to crush up for the crust, knowing there would be baking essentials at the house. I also grabbed a small container of vanilla extract, heavy whipping cream, and sour cream and headed out of that Franprix holding more dairy in my arms than I have ever carried in my lactose-sensitive life.

I took to the streets with a spring in my step, because to me, this cheesecake was more than just a gastronomic pleasure. It was a cultural exchange that represented my country. I could not fuck this up.

I got to the house and immediately began crushing up 200 grams of Petit Lait digestive biscuits for the crust, mixing the crumbs with President brand butter (the best kind) and cane sugar. Since I’m incapable of following a recipe, I added some nutmeg and cinnamon for good measure, pressing my aspiration in with the crust so that it molded to the glass cake pan, forming the hopeful foundations of my culinary experiment. I put the mold in the fridge and got to work on the filling, which simultaneously made me salivate and gag. That much cream cheese in one bowl is a rare sight.

Thanks to Google conversions, I realized I still did not have 1 kilo (1000 grams) of cream cheese and made a run to the nearest grocery store. I finally found one that wasn’t closed and bought all of their Philadelphia cream cheese, plus some salty cheese spread for the last 100 grams. Walking home, I realized that cheesecake is more than just cheese. It’s layers upon layers of fat.

I made a melange out of the cream cheese, sugar, flour, eggs, heavy whipping cream, vanilla, lemon syrup, and a ton of cinnamon, which took some serious upper body strength. I took 3 breaks while making the filling and reflected on the evolution of my housewife skills. This cake didn’t just represent my country, it was a symbol of my self-imposed domestication.

I licked the spoon because I was too curious not to. It was intense. I baked the filling in the crust at 180 Celsius and took it out, spreading the topping over it like in the old days at Coldstone Creamery when I used to decorate ice-cream cakes. Turns out that job wasn’t so useless after all. The pan now weighed roughly the amount of a gargantuan newborn child. I put it back in the oven and passed out on the couch for an hour and a half, dreaming of camembert cake with bleu cheese frosting.

At around 4:30, the cake was ready to leave the comfortable heat of the oven. The most important step was to run the spatula along the edges of the crust to prevent cracking. I was surprised– the cake surface was as smooth as a baby’s bottom. My kitchen child chilled in the fridge for 4 hours before we sampled it at 8:30 after a dinner of hachis parmentier and tomato mozzarella salad. It was so decadent and rich that half of us couldn’t finish an entire piece. “Zis eez rheal Amerrhicon cheezKEK!” they said eagerly through cushions of yellow creaminess. They adored it, but “in small doses”. It’s good to indulge–sometimes. God, the French are so right.

I took two pieces to the office and was met with the same reaction. That kitchen adventure took so much out of me that every time somebody took a bite, it was a bonding experience for us. I liked seeing people’s faces light up and knowing I could please their tastebuds, even if it was only for a few seconds. I keep wondering if I’ll ever make it again, and I honestly don’t know. But the important thing is that I can. That I’ve grown, that I can do things in the kitchen without lighting it on fire. And that I showed people I care about that I can supply them with cheese and whine.