Table for One

A Hero 20-Minute Recipe for When You're Dining Alone

This week, our Table for One columnist Eric Kim calls on Buffalo-glazed salmon with blue cheese kale salad.

by:
September 28, 2018

Table for One is a column by Senior Editor Eric Kim, who loves cooking for himself—and only himself—and seeks to celebrate the beauty of solitude in its many forms. Today: a weeknight option for when you're done with Thanksgiving leftovers and need something new to eat.


Everyone needs a hero. I have a few: Nigella Lawson, Timothée Chalamet’s The King haircut, and blue cheese.

A salty, fragrant Gorgonzola is my saving grace after a long day at the office. If ever you need to find me on a weeknight, look no further than my kitchen counter: I’ll be leaning against it, shoes kicked off, hat, tie, and jacket strewn across the floor, glass of wine in one hand, bottle in the other (usually a white from Santa Barbara or a red from Mendoza if it’s cold out).

You’ll watch in horror as I greedily hunk off morsels of cheese with my hands, eyes glazed over, as a no-cook, no-pan, no-wok, no-bowl, zero-second (!) starter while making myself something more substantial to eat, like tacos, risotto, or spaghetti alla carbonara. But more often than I care to admit, I’ll find that I’ve finished the entire bottle (and the cheese) while my main meal still cooks, falling into a deep, salty stupor while reading the paper in my favorite chair, one patterned with adorable rainbow-colored chickens...

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Top Comment:
“Love this! Made it with Frank's Red Hot and used romaine for the greenery. The husband (Big fan of wings, not a huge salmon lover) ADORED it. ”
— FrugalCat
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In American Cookery, James Beard laments that “cheese has never figured as a separate course in our meals as it does in France.” I’d go one step further and say that it’s a shame Americans have never quite picked up the habit of making cheese a meal on its own entirely, untouched and eaten as is.

For nights when I’m feeling less ascetic and a little more energetic, I have a couple of speedy recipes up my sleeve, including Buffalo-glazed salmon.

Photo by Jenny Huang. Food Stylist: Sarah Jampel. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis.

I’ve been making this salmon dinner for as long as I can remember. It's my favorite kind of meal—Buffalo-style anything with blue cheese whatever—pared down to a single-serving supper for one. Salmon fillet and gorgeous hunk of Gorgonzola aside, it's likely you’ll already have all these ingredients on hand, and dinner will be ready in 20 minutes tops.

The marinade sounds strange at first: It starts with hot sauce, sugar, and a little mayonnaise. Trust me on the sugar—it caramelizes into a glaze. And bear with me on the mayonnaise. You won’t even taste it in the end; it serves more as a cooking medium, as it melts into its oily base and helps the salmon fry. As long as you use a nonstick skillet, no additional oil is required.

And though I’m not the world’s biggest kale fanatic, I’ve found Tuscan kale—the ribbed, dark green variety that’s often labeled “lacinato kale” or “dinosaur kale”—tastes much less like cardboard than the regular stuff. Even less so when you’ve massaged a creamy blue cheese dressing into it.

The inspiration for this salad started, actually, as a Caesar. I found that I didn’t need the raw egg yolk to emulsify the dressing so long as I started with a tiny bit of mayonnaise (again, trust me!) and softened blue cheese, which emulsifies beautifully and adds that umamied depth without the need for anchovies. Yet another illustration of how blue cheese seems always to save the day.

Maybe the difference here is that with this dish, as I sit down to a plate of it, knife and fork in hand, I can feel like the hero of my own night for a change.

P.S. Is there anything you'd like to see Eric write about in this column? Send your Table for One tips to [email protected], or tell him yourself on Twitter.

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Eric Kim is a senior editor at Food52, where his solo dining column, Table for One, runs Friday mornings. Formerly the managing editor at Food Network and a PhD candidate in literature at Columbia University, he writes about food, travel, and culture and lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho.

4 Comments

Kelly May 27, 2019
I NEED to see a photo of your chicken chair, Eric!
 
Author Comment
Eric K. November 29, 2019
:) https://i.pinimg.com/originals/e9/7b/e0/e97be0041c41238f588f6b4c049bf6b3.jpg
 
FrugalCat September 26, 2018
Love this! Made it with Frank's Red Hot and used romaine for the greenery. The husband (Big fan of wings, not a huge salmon lover) ADORED it.
 
Author Comment
Eric K. September 26, 2018
I love that I can post a recipe and someone will make it for dinner the same day. That makes me so happy. Thanks for sharing, FrugalCat.