Winner, Winner Salmon Dinner – A Conversion Experience

So after a few years away, my step-daughter (who is 19) returned to live with us this past summer.  We all had some adapting to do.  Overall it went well, except for one minor detail . . . she didn’t like salmon and politely refused to eat it. Salmon was a pretty regular player in our monthly meal lineup, so this posed a bit of a problem.

I secretly set out to make her a salmon convert.  I tried planking (cedar, that is), roasting, different marinades, and more.  Fiinally I hit on the winner.  The big ol’ golden salmon in the sky that makes this girl say, “Hey we haven’t had salmon in a while.” It’s an easy one to make too since it has a lot that can be done ahead of time, or in steps.

I recently had someone ask how long it takes me to put together the dinners that I’m posting.  It honestly doesn’t take that long, and as I explained to the person asking, I do a lot to pre-prep my meals when I have little moments of downtime in my day.  So as I walk you through this one, I’ll also point out the pre-prepping I did to minimize the “last-minute-get-it-on-the-table-crunch”.

So here’s the low down on CARIBBEAN SPICE RUBBED SALMON with MANGO SALSA.

The mango salsa is quick to put together and waits well in the fridge.  That sitting time also always the flavors to meld better.  I threw the salsa together in a 5 minute window I had early afternoon when no one was calling my name.  Simply put, you peel and chop 2 mangoes, (insert confession here – I can’t stand the feel of a mango.  Don’t know what it is, but it’s the only food whose feel creeps me out.  As such, I buy them already peeled and packaged at Costco.  This makes the chopping go super fast), finely dice 1/2 of a red onion, chop a bunch of cilantro, mix together and add one squeeze of lime juice.

The spice rub for this salmon isn’t complicated, so during another 5 minute moment of sanity in my day, I threw together the spices required.  That way they were ready for the rubbing when dinner time rolled around.

I serve this salmon over a bed of rice and black beans. While the kiddos were entertaining themselves at another moment in the afternoon, I opened, drained, and  rinsed my black beans, cooked my rice and mixed the two together.  This I could also just set aside until dinner time.

When actual dinner arrived, I was poised and ready to put it all into action and the preceding prep had literally only taken me 15 minutes earlier in the day doled out in 5 minute increments.

I went ahead and rubbed down my salmon with the spices.

I then heated a bit of oil in the skillet and added the salmon.  I cooked it for about 5 minutes on each side until the spice rub made a nice crust.  At this point you can pull the salmon fillets apart  to assure it is well cooked through, or you can do a sneak test and leave the fillets in tact.  The latter is my preference.  Just remember that salmon can go from succulent to dry in a heart beat, so make sure you don’t overcook.

To serve, put the black bean and rice on the plate, layer with the salmon, and top with the mango salsa.  Not only is this one healthy and easy to put together, but it’s beautiful on the plate.  Oh, and I like to serve it with a bit of avocado on the side too, not to mention the pre-mixed margarita that it pairs wonderfully with (wink).

So there you have it . . . the story of how my oldest daughter came to know and love salmon and how this unassuming fish restored dinner table harmony to our family.  As I mentioned, my oldest is 19, but you should also know that at our house if you don’t like what’s served, there are no other options.  Hence the reason my 20 month old ate seconds and thirds last night when this was served.  But talking about how I got my kids to be good eaters and budding foodies is fodder for a whole other post.