121231 Salmon Steak
Some things don't change. And some things don't change very much. I was thinking about my parents.
When Dad was growing up, part of his life involved roast chicken in a way I may never properly comprehend. My understanding is that his nuclear family had roast chicken twice each week. Every single week. On Friday nights, his mother, or my grandmother, would roast a chicken; that's the first time. The next day the leftovers would be used up from it; that's the second time in the week.
Something similar happened to my Mom. She wasn't affected by how often my (other) grandmother made the roast chicken, but how dry it was.
So let's consider today, 2012 December 31. Dad hates most bird meat, but will only eat the white meat if he has no choice in it. And Mom hates all white meat, no matter how it could be prepared, because she begins gagging just retelling the story about dry chicken breast.
That, dear reader, is the introduction to today's post. You see, I bought a lovely salmon steak from Loblaws recently, since they were only $3 a pound, and looked just perfect in every way. The problem of course, is I rarely make fish. And while I am not my father nor my mother, the thought of ruining my precious salmon is somehow part of me. I don't want to dry it out or overcook it.
I haven't made fish on my own in about a year. Those packages of frozen breaded fish that I buy do not count towards 'fish' nor towards 'on-my-own'. I love them, but they are not real fish.
For a long time, I was getting five full days of work each week, and that was enough cash to have Japanese lunch each day. I always chose the same thing: Salmon Teriaki from Wakame on our plaza. I have no idea how they managed slicing their fish so thin; perhaps they cut it while frozen. The lunch combo was a great deal (it IS a great deal). For about $8 you get a container of Miso Soup, a small house salad, a container with spring rolls and California Rolls, another container with the salmon, rice and fried vegetables. I would buy this immediately before work, and would inhale the 'meat'. This gave me super powers, for at least a while, into my workday. (perhaps it gave me placebo effect, for at least a while, into my workday)
At our store, when sales are down, the managers are obliged to cut down labour hours. Last week I worked all five days, but short days.
Oh my. I just caught myself complaining about short days! I may need the money, but there is no greater treat an employer (or a shift supervisor) may bestow that is sweeter than an early dismissal. In the summer, there may still be some daylight. And in the winter, the slush has yet to freeze again into ice puddles. I may whine about money, but getting off early from the job is the most wonderful work feeling ever.
I digress of course. I miss having toasted salmon! And I have no personal experience in making it, really.
I sent my daughter a FB message, asking for advice. She's busy renovating. Like myself, she has bad days and good days, and when a good day happens, that's the day to rip everything down, and rebuild it. I got this information earlier, while chatting on the way to Yorkdale Shopping Centre.
I'll visit it again. Maybe next year, or if friends from out of town want to see a tourist spectacle. It is just like other high-end malls now. Eaton Centre, Vaughan Mills, and now Yorkdale.
Here are some nice things I can say about the mall. The new Yorkdale has a lot of seating in the centre of each aisle, almost everywhere. The bathrooms have been designed with new fixtures, and yet seem to deter tagging and vandalism. I was able to rent a children's stroller, and used it as a walker and as a place for my coat and ever-present junk bag. The new food court in D3 is where Simpson's had their Arcadia Court restaurant years ago. Unless you request take out, your food is served on ceramic plates and with steel utensils.
Here are some negative things I can say about the place. Any food place that sells primarily drinks (Tim Hortons, Starbucks, Timothy's, David's Tea, Booster Juice) had terrible long line ups. There were many drink spills, but not many custodians to clean it up. (Lots of uniformed security though). The crowds there today were such a surprise. I didn't see a lot of real deals, just a lot of "Boxing Day Sales Continue" signage.
I bought myself a present. The Nikon Coolpix L25 is normally $80, but was $70 today, and came to $79 with tax. It seems to me that a new low-end camera should be a nice thing.
Up until today, my camera was a Samsung PL100. The Samsung had a front display, so when doing a self shot you could really tell everything was perfect. The problem with the PL100 is that it had only one setting for taking pictures that didn't have a face. I would press the shutter, and instead of taking the shot, it would delay, and finally complain "face not detected." No picture taken. That kind of behavior is not satisfactory.
This Nikon L25 has similar face detecting features, but it has the good sense to take a picture of what it sees if there isn't a face there. Also, it has numerous 'landscape' settings, where it doesn't expect to find anyone's face at all. I don't expect to take pictures of children nor animals, but it has settings for both. When I first tested it out, it has this great sports setting. I moved the camera left, right, up and down, and while moving pulled the trigger. When I stopped moving around, I saw the display. It took a shot of the salesman who sold it to me. Cool. It is some kind of burst mode. It takes four pictures per exposure, and picks the best one. And it takes one exposure every second that way. When I got home, I tested it in low light, and it's amazing that way. So that's the good news. The bad news is it has no front mirror (for self shots) and of course, no front screen. That may not seem very important, but when you're with people, and you want to be in the picture, a lot of shots are taken that way.
So I get home from Yorkdale, and don't know for sure what to do with my salmon steak. The internet has many suggestions I won't follow. Most of them tell me to bake it. I won't do that because you can't really tell when to rescue the meat. A few suggested a wonderful sauce to cook it in, such as cranberry orange, or a cream sauce. I love sauces, but salmon is just right on its own, and covering it up seems wrong to me.
In the end, I did the same thing to it that I would do with any other steak. I preheated the pan to smoking. I cut the salmon steak in half, so the two pieces were like a tower shape, instead of a single pancake shape. (sorry, I just don't have the words I want here!)
I dipped the fish into soy sauce while waiting for the house to fill with smoke, and then seared them on all four sides. The soy seems to help it brown properly.
And in four minutes, I took it out of the fire, and let it rest a moment. I had some leftover wasabe here, and the result was nearly perfect. Where it got cooked, I loved it. It was crispy, especially the skin. Near the centre it was entirely raw, which is okay, but not what I wanted for today. With soy and wasabe, the taste and texture was good enough though.
With steak, chicken and pork I don't have to think about recipes or timing at all. I'll have to make fish more often. I suppose I should bake bread too, since I'm entirely out of practice and don't have any internal sense of quantity or timing.
I'm thinking of family again now.
My daughter says, "The force was strong with me." And by that, she knew I really wouldn't ruin a lovely piece of meat. Ok, piece of fish. And when I phoned the folks for New Years, Dad sounded happy enough that I wasn't going downtown to do anything. Oh, for lunch I had a Fat Phill's burger with Jeff, but otherwise, my day and night are tame. I have to be in shape to work all afternoon tomorrow.
I stopped by my store. Just for the record, there is a real taste difference between a 'double long espresso with three toffee nut' and a 'triple long espresso with one toffee nut'. I tried to drink it. I really did. I came back after lunch and got what I ordered in the first place. I'm so soft, I'm as bad as our customers.
By now, you all know I actively avoid Xmas. I did well this year. I wasn't driven entirely psychotic by the incessant music. I have no problem with New Years though. I wish all of you a good new year, one full of good luck and lots of love at home.
Gawd. Has facebook really taken over the personal web log? It's scary.