The other day someone asked me, “What do I do to cover up the smell of fish? I like it, but sometimes it just tastes and smells too strong.”
Pause. Beat. “Ahhh, okay, how ‘bout let’s talk about how to buy fresh fish first.” Because it shouldn’t smell fishy at all. The adjectives and phrases that should be coming to mind are something in the vicinity of briny, salty, like the sea, like an ocean breeze that travels across the water picking up moisture and the scent of it’s inhabitants. NOT, whew!, dang, this stinks!, but maybe I’ll eat it any way.
This is as true for the taste of fish as well as the smell. It should feel silky on your tongue and almost melt in your mouth. It should suggest of the sea, not hit you over the head with a low-tide mouthful.
To buy fish well, you must ask to smell it before you buy it. (See the above for what it should smell like.) You must also look at it. You want pieces that are full, firm, and shiny but not watery. They shouldn’t be dry on the surface or be in anyway falling apart. If you are buying whole fish, look at the eyes. They should be clear, not opaque. Don’t be afraid to offend the fish monger, the good ones understand. Even the smell of the store is a hint. It should be and smell clean and yes, with a hint of fish, because after all that’s what they are selling, but the scent of ocean is what you should come to mind when you walk in the door.
Be brave and ask questions. Develop a relationship with your local fish monger. Who knows, they might even grant you a fish story or two.
Salmon with Warm Spinach, Pomegranate, and Lime
2 pounds of salmon, skin removed and cut into 4 to 6 salmon fillets
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
several grinds fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound fresh green beans, stem ends removed
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons grated ginger
6 ounces spinach; about 8 cups lightly packed
zest from 1 lime
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice; about 1 lime
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
pinch of salt, if needed
wedges of lime for garnish
lime zest for garnish
In a deep dish platter, marinate the salmon with the vinegar, tamari, and pepper for 15 minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Reserve the marinade.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully add the salmon, top side down, cover with a lid, and pan-sear for 3 minutes. Carefully flip the salmon and sear for another 2 minutes or until the salmon is still slightly darker pink in the center. Remove the salmon from the pan to a platter and return the pan to the heat. Add the green beans, garlic, ginger, and reserved marinade and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until the beans are bright green and hot all the way through.
In a large bowl, combine the spinach, zest, lime juice, pomegranate seeds and hot beans. Taste for salt. Transfer the greens mixture to individual plates or to a platter and serve the salmon on top. Garnish with lime wedges and lime zest.
Serves 4 to 6