Monday, September 14, 2009

Feed your brain!

You can tell I didn't write the title for this post. "Fish is brain food! It makes you smart!" I hear that a lot.

Well, I don't particularly like fish, and I particularly don't like the implication that I'm stupid because of it. But Jhan loves fish, and would single-handedly drive every species of salmon to extinction given half the opportunity (and we know how smart that would be!). But I'm not totally opposed to fish. Prepared the right way (swimming in butter and bacon) I find it... tolerable.

Salmon and Asparagus

Actually, I like salmon and other non-fishy fish, just not too often. Once every couple of weeks is fine. I wouldn't want to get too smart.

The Food (Jhan)

Despite what Tony says, fish is "brain food". My father loved fish and ate it every chance he got and he was one of the smartest people I've ever known. Of course, most kids think their dad's are smart, but whenever I eat fish I just feel better and more aware of what I'm thinking and experiencing. So for me fish truly is "brain food".

I'd eat fish all of time if Tony stand for it. When I lived in Japan I ate sushi for lunch every day and I often had it for dinner too. And for many years I was a "fishaterian": I ate fish but no other type of flesh. Tony thinks that the only kind of fish I like is salmon, but in reality I like almost all fish; it's just that salmon and tuna are my favorites.

The other night I was just brain dead, numb, from dealing with every type of person and problem our halls of higher learning can conjure up so I made an executive decision and bought some salmon for dinner. I hate to see that sad puppy look I get when I announce that we're having fish for dinner so I broke it to Tony gently.

"Honey, I happened to pick up some salmon when I was at Costco getting gas and I'm going to make that and a baked potato with some asparagus for myself, but I'll cook you whatever you'd like if you don't want any salmon." "You're making a baked potato and asparagus? I like asparagus. I guess I could eat some salmon with a baked potato." He falls for the baked potato every time!

Salmon and Asparagus

This salmon was very moist and had a nicely browned crust on the outside. I pan-fried it in olive oil on high heat. Before cooking, I seasoned the fish on both sides with some Grillmates seasoning and a drizzle of EVOO. While the salmon was cooking, I squeezed some fresh orange juice over it - one to two large oranges should be plenty of juice.

Once the fish was mostly cooked through I turned off the heat and let the fish continue to cook through. At that point I threw a handful of herbs - cilantro, mint, parsley, chives, whatever I have on hand - into the food processor with a little EVOO, salt and pepper and a clove of garlic and pulsed until I had a smooth pesto. I added a few squeezes of orange juice just to make it pourable and added the sauce to the pan with the fish.

The fish ended up with a nice light orange flavor and a great citrus fragrance. Rice and roasted vegetables could also be a good accompaniment with this salmon.

The Plating

The plating for this dish started out as a disaster. Though I picked out some really nice plates, and put the salmon and asparagus down without any issues, the pesto was another matter. The herbs had not been blended enough for the orange juice to really bond with them, so when I put it on the fish, it was like plopping a soaking wet green toupee onto it. It just sat there dripping orange juice. Honestly, it looked like someone had spit a wad of green chewing tobacco on the fish. I was horrified.

Salmon and Asparagus

Fortunately, it wasn't totally ruined. I grabbed a bunch of paper towels and wiped off as much of the pesto as  I could. I also sopped up the pool of orange juice collecting around the fish. In the end, it looked great - bits of the herb pesto still clung to the salmon, adding nice specks of color, and the little bit of orange juice on the plate made the salmon appear extra juicy.

The Lighting and Photography

Salmon Lighting
With my Vivitar out of action, I was down to two lights, so I shot the key light through a reflector from behind and to the right of the dish, and bounced the fill light off a sheet behind it. I added a silver reflector to the left of the dish to fill in some of the shadows.

Overall it was a very simple, and very successful shoot. Placing the lights behind the food gave wonderful juicy highlights to the salmon. I also liked the the fact that repeated green bits from the pesto, asparagus and chives tie the photo together.

Salmon and Asparagus

No comments:

Post a Comment