Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Throw-Together Thai Salmon

Have I mentioned that I am the Master of the Throw-Together Dinner?  I have?  Oh good.  Well, last night was one such night where the spontaneous nature of creating a meal on the fly drew out the culinary genius within.  It all started with some yellow beans...

For the past couple of Sundays I've been volunteering as a cook and baker at Gravity Hill Farm (follow the link and scroll down for photographic evidence).  Its been an absolutely amazing experience, because 1) if you know me you know that I'm obsessed with Gravity Hill and their produce, 2) it's my first time in a real kitchen cooking for people other than my family, 3) I get to work with unbelievably fresh ingredients - I hand pick the raspberries in the morning for the raspberry lemon corn muffins, and the eggs arrive direct from the hen house in a hay filled basket where they lay still warm and covered in feathers.  And on top of all that, Gravity Hill offers a lovely, warm, inviting, creative and unique community of people sharing food, ideas, experiences, and talents.  Despite having to be at the farm at 7:00 AM Sunday morning, I absolutely love every moment of my time spent there.  But I digress...
in the kitchen prepping husk cherry salsa.
Yellow beans.  Right.  That's what I was talking about.  So since I'm only volunteering at Gravity Hill, I get paid in produce - which let me tell you is a dream come true.  I come home every Sunday with a giant bag overflowing with everything from spring garlic to Sun Gold tomatoes to baby eggplant to husk cherries to summer squash.  This past Sunday, my haul of the day was a brown bag full of these beautiful yellow beans - a pale greenish-yellow, so translucent you could almost see through them, like little ghost beans.  I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with this unique ingredient, but the universe again sent me a little culinary gift.  I follow a number of blogs and their post automatically pop up on my home page.  One such blog is 101 Cookbooks, and guess what this week's blog post happens to be about?  Yellow bean salad.  I knew immediately that that was what I wanted to do with those beautiful beans.  I thought salmon would be a nice pairing with the beans, but again, wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do with it.  However, I decided to let go, open myself up, and hopefully allow myself to be influenced by the culinary muses.  And boy did that wallop me with some inspiration.  I ended up using leftover coconut milk from the bean salad dressing to make a marinade that I then poured over the salmon before I baked it - the fish absorbed most of the liquid, so the salmon was incredibly moist and full of flavor, and left a rich, thick glaze on the outside.  I have to say, it might be some of the best salmon I've ever made, and I've made some pretty damn good salmon.  Just another throw-together meal that ended in delicious, spontaneous brilliance.

Throw-Together Thai Salmon
1½ pounds wild-caught salmon
1 cup coconut milk (the canned kind)
2 tsp Thai red curry paste
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
3 cloves garlic
a big hand-full of basil leaves
½ lime, juice and zest

+ Preheat the oven at 350 degrees.
+ Place the salmon, skin side down, in a deep baking dish.  
+ Put the remaining ingredients in a food processor.  Pulse until the garlic and basil leaves are broken down.  Then pour mixture over the salmon.  
+ Bake until salmon is cooked through, about 30-40 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets.  Serve along side the yellow bean salad.   

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