I’m a semi-competitive a person, but when I do compete, it is really against myself. I enjoy playing one-on-one sports like wrestling and racquetball, where it is my own skills versus another’s. Even when I lose, I rarely look at it as “my opponent was better than me”, but more that I was not up to my opponents’ skill level. The thing is, I don’t like to be challenged. I have a hard time walking away from challenges, though some are easier than others. Challenge me to ride a roller coaster, bungee jump, hang glide or parachute and I’ll laugh it off and walk away. But challenge me in a cerebral game of chess, or expect my black horde to lose in a game of RISK, and you have another thing coming to you. And now I add, don’t challenge me in Battle Yum as the wife did in her recent write up.
My parents had been visiting for a few days. After dropping them at the airport, I wanted to stop at a seafood store to pick up some salmon. Unfortunately, I overshot the store and instead went into Asian Foodmarket. Since the wife used salmon fillets, I decided to make something with salmon steaks. Like in every good supermarket, the produce was set up in the front, before you could get to the rest of the store. The Japanese eggplant caught my eye, and I immediately knew what my side was going to be, and how I was going to incorporate two of the challenge items. I then saw the Oyster mushrooms and figured I could mix them with the Arugula we already had at home.
Never having prepared salmon steaks, I had to do a little research on them. It was then I learned that they come riddled with pin bones which need to be removed. I resorted to using a par of small needle nose pliers(!) to get them out which seemed to be an accepted technique. I removed about 15 bones per steak. Not knowing if I got them all, I gave everyone fair warning: “Watch out for bones.” It turned out that I missed another 6-8 bones.
I learned from the wife’s dish that putting pine nuts in a grinder will create a paste, so instead I put them in a baggie and smashed them with the meat tenderizer. This created the crumble I was looking for. I admit that I wimped out on the raspberry dressing and used it “as-is” on the arugula and oyster mushroom salad.
So… how was it? The fries were a big hit with three out four in the household. I’m not sure the boy knew they were eggplant, but he ate them all. The irony is that the boy does not eat fries of any kind. Ever. The wife asked if there were more fries and the girl happily gave hers up because she knew they were eggplant. The wife’s friend was over, and she actually said (more than once) “I can’t believe these are eggplant.” The salad was pedestrian, though I liked the texture of the oyster mushrooms. Probably could have been enhanced with sautéed red onion. I was really pleased with the way the salmon tasted, and apparently everyone else was too, as all portions were finished. The fish was moist and the jerk rub wasn’t overpowering. The pine nut crumble on top added a little texture to each bite.
The wife stated that I should have a sauce with my meals, and suggested that I should have borrowed her raspberry vinaigrette / mustard glaze for the fries. Maybe one day I will get all my ducks in a row.
Hmmmm…duck…maybe that should be part of the next Battle: Yum! Challenge.
Salmon Steak and Eggplant Fries
- 1 japanese eggplant, cut into 1/4" fries
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup flour
- 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup crumbled bleu cheese
- 1/3 cup pine nuts, smashed to crumble
- 2 salmon steaks, bones removed
- 2 cups arugula
- 1/2 cup oyster mushrooms
- 1/4 cup raspberry vinaigrette
- Penzy's Chicken and Fish Jerk Rub
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Dredge the eggplant slices in the flour, dip them in the egg and then into a mixture of the panko breadcrumbs, pine nut crumbs and crumbled bleu cheese. Place the eggplant slices on a wire rack on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, approximately 10 minutes.
Mix arugula and oyster mushrooms in a bowl with raspberry vinaigrette till coated well.
Heat grill to high. Remove all bones from the steaks and pat dry. Season well with the Jerk rub. Before placing steak on grill rub grates with canola oil so fish does not stick. Cook about 10mins to ensure that fish won't stick before turning. Cook 5min on second side so fish doesn't dry out.
Place steak on the plate and fill the middle with salad. Sprinkle salmon and salad with remaining pine nut crumble. Place fries next to salmon steak.