If you couldn’t tell from my previous posts, the concept of using either rhubarb or coriander (never mind both!) in a recipe was enough to make me shake in my oven mitts.
I’ve used coriander a few times without really thinking about it or noticing it–it’s one of the spices in a butternut squash soup that I make throughout the fall and winter. If pressed, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what it tasted like.
Rhubarb played a similar role in my culinary life. I think the last time I had rhubarb, I was ten. My grandmother had a patch of it growing in her garden, and I remember my cousins and I picking it, peeling the thin red skin off and dipping it in a bowl of sugar. I also remember not liking it–the fruit is quite tart with a texture almost like celery. In childhood, rhubarb was simply a vehicle for sneaking a little extra sugar in my diet.
I spent Thursday night chewing on a few coriander seeds and reliving the experience of rhubarb dipped in sugar as I made a game plan for this FoodieFights challenge. Coriander is a key ingredient in Indian curries, but it’s also often paired with orange peel in Belgian beers. It tastes nothing like its younger relative, cilantro. It’s a little spicy and very citrusy. Likewise, the rhubarb has a citrus edge, so I decided to take that inspiration in creating this dish. My dish is salmon with a citrus spice sauce and roasted asparagus.
For those who are new to my blog, it might be helpful to know that in 2007 I decided to seriously start losing weight. As I am still struggling to get to a healthy goal weight, my food philosophy mirrors my lifestyle changes. I eat fresh, healthy foods that pack a flavorful punch. Life is too short and my calorie budget too small to waste it on crappy food.
The salmon is full of heart healthy omega-3s. The asparagus is locally grown and a good source of fiber, folic acid and potassium. And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that asparagus’ most famous quality is that it makes your pee stink. Even French author Marcel Proust is quoted as saying the lithe, green veggie “transforms my chamberpot into a flask of perfume.” He wasn’t referring to Chanel No. 5.
I jotted down some notes for my recipe (all recipes are at the end of this post) and prepared to start cooking, but first, I had to make myself a drink to calm my nerves.
This is an orange-tini with a rhubarb stir stick and coriander sugar on the rim. Pour 2 oz. citron vodka, 1 oz. Triple Sec and 1-2 oz. orange juice over ice, then shake and pour into a martini glass.
To make the sugared rim, I mixed 1 tsp. ground coriander with a half a cup of granulated sugar. Ideally you’d do this a day or more in advance so the sugar can pick up more of the coriander flavor. I did this a couple hours ahead of time, and it still tasted delish. Dip the glass in a shallow dish filled with orange juice and then dip it in the sugar.
The rhubarb stick is simply a 3″ slice of rhubarb, cut in half lengthwise. I dipped the cut side in the coriander sugar. Consider this the grown-up version of my childhood garden snack! The refreshment was welcome as I started chopping and preparing.
The sauce for the salmon can be made well ahead of time. I think the flavors would also pair nicely with pork or chicken if you have someone in your household who is averse to fish.
You will need to peel the rhubarb. The outer skin seems quite thin, but it’s tough and stringy. Peeling it is rather easy–and fun.
The sauce is simple: toss a bunch of ingredients into a pot and let it simmer. This spoon holder (see below) my sister bought me for Christmas came in quite handy when it was time to add honey to the pot. No spatula needed!
Since all of the recipe prep can be done in advance and the food doesn’t need to be tended to while cooking, this is the perfect recipe for a dinner party (so you can spend time with your guests) or if you want to fit in a quick workout while the food is a-cookin’. Okay, so maybe 10 minutes isn’t enough time for a workout, but it’s certainly enough time to clean up the dishes, set the table and fix another orange-tini.
Your fish should be nice and flaky, like this:
Now that summer is nearing and you’re less likely to want to heat up the house, another potential alteration of the recipe is to grill both the asparagus and salmon outside and simply top with their respective sauces once they’re done cooking.
This was a delicious and refreshing meal. The addition of citrus seemed key in tying in the flavors of the rhubarb and the coriander. The ginger had a nice, subtle impact on the dish as well.
Salmon with a Fresh Citrus Spice Sauce
- 1 pound of rhubarb, washed, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 c. onion, diced
- 1/4 c. honey
- 1/2 c. orange juice (NOT from concentrate–use fresh oranges if possible)
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 TBS minced fresh ginger
- 1 large orange
- 4 4-ounce salmon fillets
- salt and pepper
- Use a zester to remove all of the zest from the orange. Set this aside for the asparagus.
- Remove the peel and the pith from the orange, cut it into 1″ chunks.
- Put the rhubarb, onion, honey, orange juice, ginger, coriander and salt in a pot. Cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes, simmering until the rhubarb and onion soften and the sauce begins to thicken. Feel free to add more juice if the sauce looks too thick. Because rhubarb’s tartness varies, you might want to start out with a smaller amount of honey and add more later, if you need it. (It might save calories later on!) Stir every few minutes, but don’t feel obligated to babysit the pot. Let it do it’s thing.
- Add the orange segments and cook for another 5 minutes or so until the orange begins to break down.
- Season the salmon with a little salt and pepper and place on a cookie sheet, covered in aluminum foil and sprayed with Pam. Cook at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes. (Thicker cuts of fish will take a little longer.)
This recipe made three cups of sauce, which meant lots of leftovers (oh–the dangers of creating your own recipe). Additional sauce refrigerates well and can be served on the side of this dish or saved for another meal. I intend to try mine mixed in oatmeal tomorrow morning.
Nutritional Information (according to Calorie King)
serving size: a 4 oz. portion of fish and 1/3 cup of sauce
12.2 g. fat
2.5 g. saturated fat
65 mg cholesterol
68 mg sodium
15 g. carbs
1.5 g. fiber
23 g. protein
Roasted Asparagus with Citrus Butter
- zest from one large orange
- 1 TBS butter
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 bunch of asparagus (I try to get the thinnest stalks possible because they cook faster and are more tender), approximately 1 lb.
- Place the honey, butter and zest in a small bowl and microwave it ’til melted.
- Prepare the asparagus by washing them and snapping off their ends.
- Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with Pam to prevent sticking. Lay the asparagus in the pan, single file.
- Brush the asparagus with about half of the melted butter mixture. Put them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or until fork-tender. (The fatter the stalk, the longer the cooking time.)
Nutritional Information (according to Calorie King)
serving size: 4 oz. of asparagus (approximately 8 thin spears)
3 g. fat
1.9 g. saturated fat
8 mg cholesterol
23 mg sodium
5.8 g. carbs
2.4 g. fiber
2.5 g. protein
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