Paprika-dusted Roasted Salmon with Maple-caramelized Onions

Tonight being Hallowe’en and all, I thought I’d do something easy when it came time to make dinner. After all, the doorbell was ringing every three minutes (in the end, we had about 85 kids drop by).

It started with the onions. One big Spanish onion, cut in fairly thin slices (less than 1/4 inch). They went into a big pan with some olive oil, where I kept them moving over medium heat for five minutes or so. Then I covered the pan and dropped the heat way down – like way down, barely sizzling.

I let it cook like that for 35 minutes or so, lifting the lid every five minutes to give it a stir. Then I melted a knob of butter in a smaller pan (an oven-proof skillet), and transferred the onions to that pan, along with a scratch of black pepper and salt. The photo below was taken a few minutes after the transfer.

almost there . . .

I kept the onions cooking in the smaller pan for another 15 minutes, then I stirred in a tablespoon or so of maple syrup and took it off the heat.

In the meantime, I took two salmon filets, gave them a quick rinse, and patted them dry. I used a sharp boning knife and removed the skin, then dusted them with some Moroccan paprika (you can use any type of paprika, really, although I recommend not using a very hot one so as not to overwhelm the fish).

Tucking the thin ends underneath, I placed the salmon on top of the caramelized onions, gave it another dash of salt and pepper, and plunked it into a 400°F (200° C) oven for about 15 minutes.

one more step . . .

The photo above was taken just before it went in the oven. Yes, they are pretty big pieces of fish, but one piece was just not enough, so I bought two. I was thinking “leftovers.” (There were no leftovers.)

Unfortunately, I don’t have an “after” shot. By then the lights were down, the door was quiet, and the stomach was impatient. Just before serving, I plopped three drops of balsamic vinegar glaze onto each piece of fish, and plated it with some steamed broccoli.

It was pretty tasty, I do declare. The fish was quite fresh (and “organic”) so it was nice to have it a bit rare.

For your convenience, here’s the recipe (which I made up) in an easier-to-follow format:

Ingredients:

2 servings of fresh salmon filet, skinned and boned

2 tbsp mild paprika

1 big Spanish onion, sliced thinly

A glug of olive oil

1 knob of butter

1 tbsp maple syrup (maybe a bit more, but be careful as the onions alone are very sweet)

Salt & pepper to taste

1 tsp balsamic glaze, or balsamic vinegar

Method:

In a very large skillet, heat the oil and sauté the onions over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring constantly. Do not let the onions brown – you only want them to soften.

Cover the onions and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Stir every five minutes or so for 30-40 minues.

In a smaller, oven-proof skillet, warm a knob of butter.

Transfer the onions from the large pan to the smaller buttered pan, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Cook low for another 15 minutes, or until the onions are very soft (almost goopy). If the onions are very wet, leave the cover off. If they are not too wet, keep the cover on.

Turn off the heat and stir in the maple syrup.

In the meatime, rinse and pat dry the skinless salmon.

Dust the fish with the paprika.

When the onions are ready, place the salmon on top (folding the thinnest part of each filet under itself so as not try overcook the ends).

Pop into a 400°F (200° C) oven, uncovered, and roast for 12-15 minutes. (Leave in longer if you like it well done, or if the filets are thick – but be careful, as fish cooks pretty quickly at 400°F!)

Enjoy!

Fire on McGill-College Avenue!

I’m walking on Ste. Catherine Street, heading east towards McGill-College Avenue. I’m almost at the corner when I hear the siren screaming two blocks away. I turn and squint into the sun. A red fire truck is barrelling towards me on Ste. Catherine Street, lights flashing and siren wailing. Its horn goes graa-boooonnnk as it crosses Mansfield against a red light, zig-zagging from lane to lane around the stopped cars.

It hangs a hard left on McGill-College, barely slowing down. A block north at de Maisonneuve, it takes a right again, and stops. I quicken my pace, curious as to what’s going on. Forty five seconds later I’m almost at the corner but by then the fire is out. I see a fireman pull a portable hose from a trash can, curl it up, and jump back on the truck. By the time I reach the corner it is gone.

such destruction!

Nothing to see here folks. Move along.

Kobe Beef, anyone?

Chef Nick was so traumatized by his Kobe Beef experiments that it knocked him right off his steak blog. I thought of him last weekend when I was at a butcher shop in Brossard and my eyes fell upon several fat packages of the overpriced phoney Japanese cow meat.

big chunka beef!

I say it’s phoney because, as Chef Nick points out, it is not Japanese beef. It is Canadian beef that is raised in a supposedly “Japanese” manner and then shipped to Japan and sold to insane people at a ridiculous markup.

However, because of the mad cow disease problem, the Japanese are no longer buying the Canuk stuff. As a result, there’s a bit of a glut of (ahem) “Kobe Beef” coming onto the market here. Without all that shipping and minus all those resellers, you can now buy overly fatty phoney “Japanese” beef for just a bit more than regular beef!

bargoon?

Check it out. These “Kobe Beef” tournedos (admittedly not the most pricey cut) were selling for $25.99 a kilo (the price tag on the package was $11 and change). By the look of them, they’re not even all that fatty, especially when compared with the ones Chef Nick acquired a few months ago. Some would say these are “nicely marbled.” However, tournedos are usually very lean, so this does indicate an overall high degree of fattiness.

Chef Nick bought his very fatty specimens several months ago in Montreal for a whopping $120 a kilo! Ouch! (If you check the label on his steaks compared to the label in the top image above, you can see they appear to come from the same source: Kobe Classic.)

You can learn more about Kobe Beef at the Kobe Classic website. Or you get another side of the story and cry along with Chef Nick by starting here, then reading this, and this, and this, and the climax, this.

Me? I went for the osso bucco.

Balls!

The very resourceful town of Fort Myers Beach, Florida, has just emerged from a crisis. The problem began a few weeks ago when some townsfolk complained about the banners that went up for the town’s annual Turkey Testicle Festival.

That’s right. Every year, Fort Myers holds a festival in which people flock to the town in order to drink a lot of beer and eat deep-fried turkey testicles.

Turkey testicles, as you can see below, are lovely pinkish things, tender and juicy looking, and a lot bigger than I would have expected.

tons of testicles!

All it takes is the skilled hands of a professional chef (who apparently likes to keep an eye on the time) to toss them in some seasoned flour . . .

almost there!

. . . and then dump them into a pot of boiling grease. After a few minutes you’ll have a tasty and greasy delicacy – crunchy on the outside, squishy on the inside – ready to be served up on fine Floridian china.

yum!

Strangely, this festival is not confined to Fort Myers Beach. Apparently, Turkey Testicle Festivals happen all over America. (The above photos are from the one in Huntley, Illinois.)

OK, back to the crisis . . .

Some of the refined and sensitive people of Fort Myers Beach were upset that the word “testicle” appeared on the festival’s banners. Apparently “testicle” (the word, not the body part) is offensive to their innocent and viceless ears and minds.

Despite the fact that the festival uses up good meat protein that most people would find unpalatable (unless you’ve pounded about a dozen Budweisers first), and regardless of the fact that the festival raises money for charity (the Harry Chapin Food Bank), those timid townsfolk can’t bear the thought of their innocent children looking up at the banner and asking “Daddy, what are testicles?”

A motion was brought to the town council to change the name of the festival. Anti-testicle councilman Garr Reynolds, in a textbook-case display of don’t-get-itedness, said “Call it a Tom Turkey Festival, that would indicate it’s a male turkey.”

Fortunately, most people in the town are not insane. In fact, the council vote followed what was described as “a laugh-out-loud discussion.” The motion was defeated, four to one, with most people apparently believing it was a non-issue. So the festival, its name, the banner, and all those t-shirts, get to stay.

On the down side, the festival, held at the Surf Club at Fort Myers Beach, is scheduled for November 18 this year – the same day that TomKat is getting married in Italy. Damn, I hate it when my schedules conflict!

Sources:

(Thanks to Harry SW for the heads up…)