I have a love/hate relationship with the post-travel kitchen. Maybe you feel the same way. You come home after a long trip and want food. Anything. And all you have are half meals, so you eat a cheese roll-up for breakfast.
That’s the hate part.
Once my initial hunger wears off, it doesn’t seem so bad. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to stock my fridge with things I actually want to eat, rather than feel obligated to eat things that seemed like a good idea a long time ago. (Weird artisan salsa, I’m looking at you.)
That’s the love part. And tonight’s dinner was all love.
I just returned from a trip to Scandinavia, where I clearly didn’t get my quota of seafood. The crisp weather and the copious amounts of salted black licorice have me pining for autumn. And yet, here on the East Coast summer is still holding on by a thread. This meal exists in that tension. The nutty flavors of the brown rice mixture balance out the citrus of the salmon and the fennel. The latter of which solidly points toward cooler days ahead.
I’m not going to delve into the methodology for a perfect seared salmon because there’s no way I could do it the justice that Serious Eats does. The rice mixture that I use is Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Medley, but you can use whatever you prefer. If the thought of cooking rice seems a bit too laborious (it’s okay, we’ve all been there), I recommend picking up some Seeds of Change instant rice, such as the Quinoa and Brown Rice. If you are making regular ol’ rice, go ahead and get it started first.
For the fennel
1/2 fennel bulb cut into 1/4 inch pieces
few pieces thinly sliced onion
1 garlic clove, diced
1 oz fresh orange juice
1/4 tsp honey
For the salmon
2 tsp olive oil
6 oz salmon fillet
3 sprigs thyme
half a lemon
Begin cooking your rice of choice
Prep the fennel (for a nifty how-to, check out this video from Martha Stewart, but cut the fennel into 1/4 inch pieces rather than slicing)
Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat. Place fennel, onion, and garlic into skillet. Season with salt and pepper and sauté for five minutes, or until fennel is tender.
While the fennel cooks, whisk together the orange juice and honey. Once the fennel is tender, reduce heat to low and add the orange juice mixture to the pan. Cook until reduced and slightly syrupy being careful not to let it burn. Remove from heat.
Set the fennel aside and clean out your skillet for the salmon.
Heat the skillet over medium. Pat the salmon dry and season with salt, pepper, thyme, and a generous squeeze of lemon juice.
Heat oil and add salmon, skin-side down in the skillet. Cook the salmon until mostly done before turning to sear the skinless side.
Once the salmon is nearly cooked, place the fennel mixture in the skillet to briefly reheat before removing the salmon. Finish heating the fennel, and serve both with rice mixture.