This post is part of a new segment where I recreate the recipes of those around me. I am forever curious about the homecooked food my friends and family subsist on and nourish themselves with – what are their lazy day go-to meals? What do they turn to when they feel like making a splash in the kitchen? What is their definition of comfort food? I will explore these questions through my histamine-intolerant lens, but will include the original recipes for those who don’t get bloated off everything.
What: My first time cooking fish, believe it or not
Who: Steph of All Trades i.e. Steph Bowie Liew
Bloat score: 0 – Living the dream
I like fish a lot, but have never cooked it at home – in part, because I’m scared to and in part because Mr Whatever Floats Your Bloat likes fish as much as he likes finishing all the food on his plate, which is to say not very much.
But when Steph of All Trades put forward this recipe by Australian food icon Julia Ostro, I knew it’d make for the perfect first foray into cooking fish. I’ve nicknamed Steph of All Trades such because there’s nothing she can’t do – she has a food Instagram called @did.u.eat which I’m a big fan of, she’s an accomplished cook (who made prawn cheung fun from scratch in iso – need I say more?), she makes one-of-a-kind ceramic treasures, and she’s a proud mother to a cavachon named Archie.
Steph of All Trades and I share a few traits – like me, she catalogues every meal she makes but unlike me, they’re usually more successful. She also steers clear of making a dish twice, so keen is she on trying new recipes, but she’s made this bowl at least three times, a testament to how good it is.
“I really love salmon and it’s the fish I eat most by far. The rice in this dish is very, very flavoursome so if you don’t want that, don’t add all of the rice seasoning in at once. I always use all of it though, as per the recipe.
“I don’t use snow pea tendrils and just use plain sesame seeds (I toast them sometimes, but mostly I cbf). I also add a sprinkle of furikake if I have some but the recipe doesn’t need it. I like how adaptable this is with veg; it’s like, do whatever. I do recommend the quick pickles though.”
Like Steph of All Trades, I added all the seasoning to the rice and loved it. I used broccolini in place of snow peas and loved it so much – you may have a preferred technique for cooking your broccolini, but I followed this random recipe I found online. I also recommend the quick pickled cucumber because as Samin Nosrat would say, you need that acid!
Because salmon doesn’t take long at all to cook, this is an incredibly easy and quick weeknight dinner, and one I’ll be returning to when my regular tiresome routine of commuting home after work eventually takes hold again. And because Mr Whatever Floats Your Bloat doesn’t like fish, I halved the recipe so I didn’t have leftovers for days – I’ve amended the recipe accordingly and included my additional comments in italics.
Julia’s brown rice and salmon bowl (a recipe courtesy of Steph Bowie Liew, based on a Julia Ostro recipe)
2 x150g pieces of boneless salmon, skin on
Olive oil, for frying
Seasoned brown rice
1 cup brown rice
1/8 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon grain vinegar (both Steph of all Trades and I used rice wine vinegar)
1 tablespoon mirin
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1 clove of garlic, finely grated (I kept this as the original 1 clove because I love garlic)
1cm piece of ginger, finely grated (same as with the garlic)
1/2 teaspoon each of black and white sesame seeds, toasted (I completely forgot to do this)
Sea salt, to taste
Quick pickled cucumber
1 Lebanese cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon caster sugar
Small pinch of sea salt
1/2 tablespoon grain vinegar (again, I used rice wine vinegar)
Any steamed vegetable of your choice. Some of my favourites are sugar snap peas, snow peas and broccolini (I used broccolini, but fried it on a pan until it was charred. Death to steamed vegetables!)
Black and white sesame seeds, toasted
Coriander, to serve
Snow pea tendrils (optional)
Miso soup (optional)
For the seasoned rice, rinse the rice thoroughly then cook until tender using your preferred method. For brown rice I just like to boil it in plenty of water and then drain. The absorption method is perfect too. (I cooked mine in a rice cooker like the child of Asia that I am.)
While the rice is cooking, prepare the seasoning by mixing all of the remaining ingredients together in a bowl and whisk with a fork to combine. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Pour over the cooked rice and mix until all the grains are coated. Keep warm.
For the pickled cucumber, combine the ingredients in a small bowl and using your hands, mix everything, squeezing and scrunching the cucumber gently. This ensures the cucumber slices are well coated but also speeds up the pickling process. Taste and check that the pickles are well balanced, adding more sugar, salt or vinegar if needed. Set aside.
For the salmon, rub some olive oil on each fillet and season generously with sea salt. Heat a large pan over a high heat and when very hot, place the salmon in the pan, skin side down, and cook for 2–3 minutes. The salmon is ready to be flipped when the skin is nice and crispy and can be easily moved from the bottom of the pan. Cook for another 2–3 minutes or until the salmon is just cooked through. It should still be a little translucent in the centre. (I don’t know if my salmon cooking was way off as a first-timer, but it took longer than 6 minutes for me to cook my salmon to a desired pinkness within.)
To assemble, place a generous heaping of the seasoned brown rice in the bowls. Dress your steamed vegetable of choice (or charred broccolini if you’re me) with a little sesame oil and sea salt and place some in each bowl.
Top with a piece of salmon, some of the pickled cucumbers and some of the snow pea tendrils if using. Scatter over the sesame seeds and serve with a side of miso soup (I did neither of these things, and it was still very good!).