Let’s talk about fish. My mom grew up in a Jewish-Polish immigrant household where fish basically consisted of the typical Jew-fare: herring, cod, lox, smoked white fish, and thepièce de résistance, gefilte fish. If you know anything about these fish products, you know they they all have pungent fishy flavors and smells. And gefilte fish? There’s a reason my mom still refers to it as filthy fish. Needless to say, my mother is not the biggest fan of fish. Even though my dad, the resident cook, enjoys these Jewish delicacies, my mom’s distaste prevented us from eating much in the way of fish while I was growing up. However, that has changed.
I am in agreement with my mother as to the aforementioned fish products–they all smell horrible and cause me to whine at my dad and brother when the fridge and trash area reek of fish (seriously, who wants to reach into the fridge for a snack and get blasted with the smell of white fish?). Filthy fish is also pretty nasty even when my grandma would make it from scratch. And sushi just makes me want to vomit. But most fresh fish?So good. I like salmon, tilapia, sole, mahi mahi, trout, sea bass, congrio and a few others. When cooked to perfection, it melts in your mouth and really isn’t all that fishy. It goes with pasta, salad, a myriad of spices and vegetables, and is so versatile you don’t ever have to eat it the same way twice. Plus, it’s insanely good for you with all those omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, my doctor told me to try and eat it at least three times a week. I don’t know how I’m going to swing that one–I like a little variety in my food, if you know what I mean. But, at the very least, I can try to eat more than I am now.
Last night I officially embarked upon Operation Eat More Fish. I chose a fresh Wild Sockeye Salmon, vibrant with natural pink. I decided earlier in the day that leeks were in order, but wasn’t really sure what else I was going to pair it with. Low and behold, there was a large head of cabbage in the back of the fridge buried beneath all the salad greens and herbs. Don’t you hate when things get lost in the fridge? I do. Last week, per therecipe & pictures posted on facebook, I made a very quick fish dinner with braised kale. So last night I decided that a full post on the wonderful (and quick) method of cooking fish was in order given my ingredients. It didn’t hurt that it was one-pan meal–we all know how much I hate doing dishes.
Braised Leeks & Cabbage
1 3-4 oz salmon fillet per person, skin on
2 leeks, white parts julienned
1/2 head white cabbage, chopped
1 medium sweet onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt & freshly ground pepper
fresh or dry sage & thyme
1. Cut the green leaves and root end off of your leeks and julienne the white/light green parts into thin, 2″ long strips. Thoroughly wash to remove all dirt. Cut half a head of cabbage into strips, as well as slice the onion into strips. Coarsely chop your garlic.
2. Leave the skin on the salmon, but debone and pat dry. Sprinkle with a little salt, fresh pepper and sage and/or thyme. Or any other herbs you think sound good. The skin helps regulate how fast it cooks, by the way.
3. In a large saute pan, head tablespoon of olive oil. Add garlic, leeks and onion. Cook for 3-4 minutes until translucent and fragrant.
4. Toss in cabbage along with chicken broth and 1/4 cup white wine. Mix around. Cover and let simmer for 5-7 minutes, until almost cooked.
5. Add in the rest of the wine, salt & pepper to taste, and the juice from half a lemon. Stir around.
6. Place salmon, skin side down, on top of the vegetables. Cover and let steam for 3-4 minutes or until cooked to your liking.
7. Serve salmon on a bed of leeks & cabbage. It is probably wise to peel skin off of salmon before plating–scales are yucky.
Notes: I think tarragon would have gone nicely with this, added in near the end. But as it stands, the leeks and cabbage have some great texture imparted with white wine and lemon flavors. My brother added pepper flakes, again. And if you don’t like cabbage or salmon, any leafy green or fish can be substituted in.