This dinner is dedicated to some very special friends, for whom – to protect the innocent (and to avoid prosecution by FERPA) – I shall use a delightfully Victorian convention of referring to them by initials only (in no particular order – to avoid any implication of favoritism): AC, TP, KN, MS, CG, TD, CH, AL, SC, and SV. They not only invited me into their summer homes to enjoy lovely dinners prepared by them with affection and good humor, but they inspire me daily with their grace, wit, intelligence, youthful vigor, and general wonderfulness. However, I am also spurred by a particular comment made by two of the above listed group — a pair of ladies who suggested that my Weeknight Wondermeals, recipes I tout as super-simple and très-cheap, were “so fancy, and way too complicated!” What the what? Dear girls, these offerings are the most basic of basics! If you can execute a successful Western blot, or re-engineer the severed limbs of an army of axolotl, you can TOTALLY make any Weeknight Wondermeal, if you have the right stuff in the kitchen. To wit: tonight’s delectable dinner. A tender, succulent, juicy salmon filet encrusted with honey and ginger oil, plus a similarly prepared but-also-soy-sauced scallop, served with a super-food salad. I dare you, young friends, to make this dinner (note to TP: 86 the walnuts!): the effort is simple, but the reward is sublime!
Ginger Honey Glazed Salmon and Scallops, with Pear, Avocado, and Walnut Salad
.75-1lb filet of salmon
2 very large scallops (these equalled .3lb)
1 cup honey
1/2 cup ginger oil (or fresh grated ginger blended with EVOO)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 fresh pear
1 small white onion
1/4 cup crushed walnuts
sea salt, fresh cracked black pepper, fresh snipped chives (for garnish)
Since I keep honey, ginger oil, and soy sauce in my pantry, my shopping list was pretty slim. The most expensive items were these specimens of seafood: two huge, fresh sea scallops, and a lovely bright pink wedge of king salmon. I want them to marinate a bit before I cook them, but they need to do so in separate bags. Let me explain…
The salmon gets 3/4 cup of honey, 3 oz of ginger oil — a product I purchased at a nearby Asian supermarket, for about $2.49 — and lots of fresh cracked pepper.
I remove the adductor muscles from my scallops (here’s a pic), and then they get the rest of the honey and ginger oil, with the addition of the soy sauce – which is going to add just the right umame to the experience. I seal both bags up nice and tightly, after removing as much air from them as I could, then I chuck ‘em in the fridge to marinate for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, we plug in Little Red and get him all hot and bothered. Clayton fashions a simple tray out of some foil paper, since we want to catch and cook the marinade as well as the proteins. You’ll see what I mean a couple steps from now.
I brush a little EVOO onto the portion of the foil that will cook the scallops, but I want to skin of the salmon to stick to the foil (it will make it easier to remove the fish-flesh (and nothing but) later), so I leave that side clean.
The salmon goes on first, and I pour the marinade carefully over it’s pink yumminess to coat it. It doesn’t matter if it spills onto the foil — in fact, it’s good for some of it to do just that. As it cooks, the honey will thicken and brown, making a nice glaze. Again, you’ll see what I mean soon.
The scallops go on next, but they’re doused in less of their marinade, since the soy will have already permeated the meat. I do save both marinades, in case I want to add more a the halfway point. For now, though, I lower the lid and walk away for 10 minutes.
My salad tonight was inspired by the similarity between the shape of a pear, and the shape of an avocado. I surmised that if they had the same figure, perhaps they would go well together… Yes, yes – there are all sorts of things wrong with that supposition, but in this case it worked. I removed the pit out of my avocado, and removed the seeds from my pear, before slicing each half into an equal number of thin wedges.
After fanning the pear slices onto my plates, then layering a fan of avocado over that, I toss some arugula with thin slices of white onion, some shavings of parmigiano reggiano, salt, pepper, and EVOO.
After 10 minutes, my seafood is halfway done, and – as you can see – the honey in the marinade has started to caramelize. Using a basting brush, I get as much of that honey off the foil and onto the exposed flesh of my fish – top and sides. It’s slickery — meaning it doesn’t stick to the fish very well unless you sort of scoop it onto the brush and dab it onto the pink. Be patient, and get as much honey to stick to the fish as you can — it will be SO worth it.
Instead of basting the scallops, I rub them into the marinade darkening on the foil before flipping them. It’s just like basting, but this time I’m going bottom up instead of top down.
See? Even through the foil, the scallops are taking on lovely grill marks. I close the lid for 10 more minutes, and watch the sun sink lower on the horizon over this hot summer day.
When I lift the lid again, my scallops are done (so I remove them to a warm plate to hold), and the honey/ginger marinade for the fish has turned a deep, dark brown. Never fear! This is what we wanted! Using my basting brush one more time, I transfer as much of that black honey to the fish as I can.
Like so! I lower the lid for another 5 minutes, go indoors, plate my salad, then come back out to fetch supper. The good thing about using the foil is I only have to pick that up and bring the whole thing inside – no muss, no fuss! Using a long, narrow spatula, I divide the filet into two equal portions, lifting the fish right off the skin which is stuck to the foil paper. The flesh slides right off.
After finishing my salad with a couple home-grown cherry tomatoes and a sprinkle of crushed walnuts (for crunch), and garnishing the seafood with snipped chives, we’re ready to dig in. The whole dinner has taken about 30 minutes of activity, and it cost only about $20 (plus pantry items, like the honey, soy, and ginger oil). But what deliciosity!
The salmon is sweetly encrusted, with tender, moist flesh and a wee snap from the black pepper; the scallops are succulent and sweet, with the additional amped up savor of rich soy; and the salad is inspired: the fragrant, firm pear is perfectly complimented by the soft, nutty avocado, and the peppery arugula, salty cheese, and crunchy nuts fill the palate with delectable complexity, richness, and freshness. Each bite was sheer enjoyment!
As the sun sets over Hamilton Street, setting the sky on salmon fire, Clayton and I dig into our salmon dinners with gusto. So, dear friends — and you know who you are — are you up for trying this yourselves? I promise you’ll enjoy it!