In the compass of cooking, the word ‘easy’ is arbitrary. If you’re a French pastry chef, you’d whip up a batch of macarons (no, not macaroons – those are easy if you’ve got at least one hand and egg whites) with your eyes closed. They do not appear easy to me, although I will admit I haven’t tried. If you’re Masaharu Morimoto, you can carve sashimi that’s one-eighth of an inch thick with precision and agility that I can only dream of, or watch on TV. If you’re me, you pride yourself on ‘supreming’ citrus.
Yes ma’am. Su-prem-ing. Say it loud and proud like the French, and not like the pieces of chicken (su-preeeme). And when you say it, think of my picture beside it in the dictionary. Because I am a supreme master.
The definition? According to Wiktionary, to supreme is to divide a citrus fruit into segments, removing the skin, peels, pith, membranes. I suggest you go to either your nearest grocery store, your local farmers’ market, or (if you’re lucky) your backyard and grab a bag of fresh, juicy citrus fruit – now. Then head over to YouTube and watch this video, ignoring the ginormous knife he’s using and the weird music that sounds as if he’s about to murder someone with said knife rather than cut citrus. To be quite honest, a simple paring knife would do but I’m sure he thought the shiny butcher knife would give him more authority in his instruction. Whatevs.
Nevertheless, you do not have to go to culinary school to learn this trick. And with citrus fruits cropping up all over the place during these winter months, the timing is on par.
Now that you’re back and ready for supreming (citrus in one hand, ginormous butcher/puny paring knife in the other), I present to you a perfect recipe to test your skills. Citrus salad. Over salmon. A perfectly supremed, juicy citrus salad accented with the salt of capers, the freshness of mint, and the bite of lemon that’s covering an ever-so-slightly-sweetened, moist filet of wild Alaskan salmon. Sweetened with, you guessed it, nectar of the gods – and I don’t mean honey, friends. I mean agave nectar.
You want to buy some of that fine, fine stuff. Like, it’s so good you should have bought it in 2009. It’s sweeter than sugar, lower on the glycemic index than other sweeteners, natural, vegan, and so lovely I could probably drink it straight if I weren’t busy putting it on fish or making granola bars with it. Yeah, it’s versatile too.
Did I mention that it’s made from the same plant as tequila? If that doesn’t seal the deal, I’m not sure what will. On the other hand, you could just down a few margaritas, sweetened with agave nectar, and call it a night, skipping the dinner altogether – and you can test your supreming skills out on the limes.
Salmon with Agave Nectar & (Expertly-Supremed) Citrus Salad
Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis, Giada at Home; serves 4
Serve this dish with millet or another healthy grain. For millet, cook 1 cup organic millet in 3 cups of water. Bring to boil, stir and reduce heat and cover for about 15-20 minutes or until water is gone. Let sit a few minutes and fluff with a fork. For this dish, I squeezed some citrus juices (basically, the juices remaining after segmenting the fruits) and tossed some chopped mint, salt, and pepper into the millet.
2 large oranges
1 large grapefruit
1/4 c evoo
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
1/3 c chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 scallions, finely sliced
3 T chopped fresh mint leaves
2 T capers, rinsed, drained and coarsely chopped
2 T orange zest
1 t lemon zest
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
2 T canola oil
4 (4 to 5-ounce) center cut wild Alaskan salmon fillets, skin-on
2 T amber agave nectar
salt and pepper
For the salsa: Peel and trim the ends from each orange and grapefruit. Using a paring knife, cut along the membrane on both sides of each segment. Free the segments and add them to a medium bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, scallions, mint, capers, orange zest, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes. Toss lightly and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
For the salmon: Preheat oven to 350 F. Heat an oven-proof skillet with canola oil over medium-high, until oil starts to shimmer but not smoking hot. Brush the salmon on both sides with the agave nectar and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Saute, skin side down, for about 2 minutes. Flip carefully and sear other side for about 30 seconds, then place in oven for about 4 minutes or until cooked and flaky. Transfer the salmon to a platter and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Spoon the salsa verde on top of the salmon or serve on the side as an accompaniment.