Welcome to Better Than It Looks, a new series in which we discuss the recipes we tried (and maybe failed) to execute, and the foods that were served to us by someone perhaps more talented than ourselves.
After talking to Kelis about the joys of cooking, I promised myself (again) that I’d try to spend more time in the kitchen actually cooking instead of unloading takeout bags. Since my spaghetti with chicken sausage experiment last week turned out okay, I moved onto bigger things, onto something I absolutely hate cooking. Salmon.
It’s not just salmon. Fish of any kind intimidates me, mostly because of the cooking time. Yes, it’s quicker to make and easy in theory, but that also means you can’t leave fish on the stove and still be fine like you can with meats.
Historically, tilapia has been the easiest for me to not screw up. Sadly, the cook time for salmon fillets has led to my past attempts being either undercooked or overcooked and/or not flavorful enough.
Maybe I just can’t handle it.
I also need to feel spices on my tongue and salmon often tastes too bland to me, even with a decent marinade. I decided to try it anyway for the challenge. I’m pleased that it turned out okay, though slightly buttery. Basically it wasn’t horrible, which works for me.
For recipes, I tend toward well-known sites like Food Network, AllRecipes and Epicurious for ideas. This time, I chose a new adventure via Google and found a honey glazed salmon recipe on damndelicious.net.
Damn, delicious. Damn delicious. Sounded good.
The recipes I normally settle on, if not from family or friends, are based on two factors: whether the picture looks delicious (this one did) and the degree of difficulty of ingredients (can I get them in my grocery store?).
Cooking time doesn’t matter as long it’s not a day-long mission. So here’s the recipe photo versus my results:
For the side dish, instead of my go-to basmati rice, I was feeling like potatoes, so I searched for a recipe and found a random chipotle and lime roasted potatoes recipe (via Evernote’s Food app) that looked good.
All the salmon recipe required me to buy was salmon and limes. Everything else, I already had in my “pantry” (lol), including honey. I later realized a honey dipper (seen in the photo above) probably would’ve made a difference in the taste and spread the honey more evenly, as opposed to my method of smearing the honey on the salmon with my hands :)
To make things worse, I have a bad habit of trying to juggle cooking two dishes at once in my tiny kitchen with barely any counter space, which means putting bottles on the refrigerator and pots on the floor—wherever there’s space.
I worked on the potatoes first and threw them in the oven, which was easy. I’ve made potato wedges before, though not with chipotle sauce, and I have to say the spice kick is amazing.
While those were roasting (at one point, I had to take them out again and re-glaze), I made the buttery honey-lime marinade for the salmon in a pan and set it aside. I kept spooning out the honey clumps and eating it. This was the best part of the whole experience.
I knew cooking the salmon would be stressful because I had four fillets, all varying in thickness. The recipe says to sear it 1-2 minutes on each side but does that take into account the thickness of the fillets?? Does it matter?? I don’t know this type of science.
I said whatever and did 2 minutes each, hoping it wouldn’t be too raw and that the oven would finish...doing what it does.
The final meal tasted solid. I love the potatoes and I’ll definitely make them again. The salmon was decent, meaning I didn’t totally ruin it. I ate it and will hopefully continue to eat it. But what I realized is that salmon is not my cup of tea and I shouldn’t force it.
What’d you consume this week? Are you also afraid of fish? Do you think potatoes are the best food on earth? Share your recipes, photos, and tips in the comments below, and we’ll check back in next week with another cooking adventure.
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Images via the author and damn.delicious