Many days when I am sitting at my desk charged with thinking about suspension bills, my mind wanders to other things. Why does my family own so many washcloths shaped like farm animals? Am I too old to wear a shirt fashioned from synthetic feathers? What should I do with all this leftover salmon?
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The last question vexes me often, as I am always long on lovely, expensive salmon, due to the incipient pescetarian’s love of the fish. The bottom line is that no matter how delicious any fish recipe is, its re-heated version is usually not that great.
Enter Salmon Kedgeree. This is about as weeknight friendly as a recipe can get, because it involves left over protein, spices and stuff that you probably have laying around (and ingredients that you can skip and not be worse for the wear), and one pot, unless you are making fresh rice, which I did.
Here is the drill: get home, say hello to whomever happens to be waiting for you, and mix up a gin rickey while you put up some rice. (deensiebat wants you to use long grain; I chose basmati.) Then you move in a linear fashion along with the recipe, chopping up your onion, garlic and ginger while your mustard seeds pop, and grabbing the various other things it calls for, too.
If you don’t have turmeric, or cilantro, you will survive. I think even a cook strangely remiss in garlic ownership can make this dish, the only thing you really cannot live without are the mustard seeds, which give this dish its special nutty flavor, and obviously the curry paste.
If you have a curry paste you like, go ahead and use it, but making your own is fast and simple and may yield a better result, as will making sure your rice has some moisture left, otherwise the only thing that can really go wrong with this dish might, which is that it can be a tad dry (add a little broth if needed).
There are so many flavors at work here, and given the match of a healthy blast of salmon, this may be your perfect Monday night meal. Or you can have it for breakfast, as is apparently a tradition in England, even though the dish, which always consists of flaked fish, originates in India. Best case scenario: make it on Tuesday. That way you can eat it while watching Glee.
1 tablespoon canola oil (or ghee, if you've got it)
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1-2 tablespoon Indian-style jarred curry paste, such as Patak's (if you don't have this, you can substitute 1-1 1/2 Tbsp curry powder (depending on your taste and the spiciness of your curry), mixed with a splash of oil and 1/2 tsp tomato paste)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, julienned or grated
~5 cups cooked long-grain white rice (yeah, my picture has overcooked short-grain brown rice, but long grain white would be better)
1 lemon, juiced
1 pound cooked salmon, flaked into bite-sized pieces
1/2 bunch spinach, washed, dried and roughly chopped (optional)
1 bunch cilantro, washed, dried and roughly chopped
1. Heat the oil or ghee over a medium-high flame in a heavy pan. When the oil is rippley-but-not-smoking, add the mustard seeds and cover. The seeds will sputter and pop.
2. When the popping has subsided, add the turmeric and curry paste or powder (start with the smaller amount). Let the seasonings toast for a few seconds, then add the onion, garlic and ginger. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium and saute, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent (~5 minutes).
3. When the onion is cooked, add the rice and stir gently but thoroughly to combine. Add the lemon juice and salt to taste, and more curry paste if desired. When it's seasoned to taste, add the salmon, spinach (if using), and ~ 3/4 of the cilantro, and stir gently to combine. Cook until the fish is warmed through and the spinach has wilted. Garnish with remaining cilantro and serve (yogurt and chutney make nice accompaniments)
By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).