I know, I have been remiss at posting in the past few months – life got busy again, and when that happens, blog, sadly, takes second place to immediate priorities. And then, on top of it all, both T and I got a terrible case of influenza together, and spent the two weeks over the winter holidays in bed with thermometers, cold-and-flu drugs, and endless pots of tea, instead of out in the beautiful snow. I’ll stop about that here before the blog post degenerates into whining.
As a result of it having been winter holidays and us having been sick, I have decided to post about two things which came as holiday presents, and came to be needed. The first thing is that my wonderful beloved, among other things, bought me a set of seasoning mixes from Rajah, which is a very nice English brand of seasonings – not for English food. In the United Kingdom, they are mostly found in ethnic shops and the ethnic food departments of supermarkets. The other thing – a result of us having been so sick – is that I am cooking a lot of rather simple, everyday food that is easy on the stomach and short on prep and effort. As far as the seasonings are concerned, I am not really worried – I have bought many Rajah brand mixes before (in particular their curry powders), and they have always been of great quality.
The ones I received this Yule – none of which I’d tried before – are Jerk Seasoning (insert immature giggle here), Barbecue Seasoning, Hot and Spicy Seasoning and Lemon and Chili Seasoning. I also got a pack of good Ras-Al-Hanut mix which isn’t by Rajah and isn’t in the picture, but I’ll write about that separately once I have tried it.
The thing about seasoning mixes bought in bulk like this is that they aren’t at all the same as the single-portion packets of ‘taco seasoning’ and ‘dressing mix’ that are sold in supermarkets. It so happens that I think those ‘shortcut’ packets – which are mostly not made of spices, but of cheap filler – are vile. This is not to say that all seasoning blends are bad – quite the opposite. Good quality spice blends found in the spice department of your supermarket, at your favorite ethnic shop or at the spice traders’ are incredibly good to have around the kitchen for when you just aren’t up for standing and measuring and mixing and grinding and… you get the idea.
So, out of these four packets so far, I’ve only tried the Lemon and Chili and the Jamaican Jerk Seasonings. The latter was used as it was intended, as a rub for a roast chicken, and the former I have used for simply the easiest lunch of grilled salmon. Now, as I’ve mentioned before, salmon fillets should be on everyone’s list of things to buy when you can get them for a good price (with the reasonable exceptions of allergic people or those who hate salmon with a passion). Why? Because not only are they healthy and really, really good for you, but they are also one of the easiest things in the world to make into hot, delicious food in under 20 minutes.
It’s really simple. So simple, in fact, that you don’t need a recipe. All you do is: preheat the oven to about 200-220C, and smear a small drop of cooking oil over the bottom of a small baking dish. Blot your salmon fillets with a paper towel and smear them in … well, any seasoning you like. I used my new lemon and chili seasoning from Rajah. It worked great. However, you can use your favorite mix, or you can simply season the salmon with salt and pepper and rub those into the surface. Put the seasoned fillets into the oiled baking dish, and place the baking dish into the middle of the oven and grill for 15-18 minutes (depends on how large your fillets are and how done you prefer them).
Salmon is a fatty fish and so while it can handle glazing really well, it doesn’t even need that – the oil in the fish itself will mix with the seasoning as it grills.
See the salmon fat pooling down there in the bottom of the baking dish? Like so!
Toss some greenery onto the plate, chop a cucumber or ball a melon or something – or both, season that with a drizzle of good olive oil, spatulate the salmon over to the waiting plates and you have a gorgeously elegant, healthy and tastebud-tingling meal in less time than it would take to get takout pizza (even if you live above the pizzeria!).
As to seasoning mixes – I definitely recommend the Rajah Lemon and Chili, and the Jerk one isn’t half bad (it’s meant for chicken, not fish, however), but this post is not a plug for Rajah brand as such. Most fish-friendly seasonings will work here – it is simply that if you have one on hand premixed – either bought or compounded by your very self, it makes a great meal come together without any effort. And that is a worthy thing in itself.
Combined with a chunk of baguette, or a couple of boiled baby potatoes with peel on, and a glass of white wine or bubbly, this makes for a great dinner as well.
P.S. In case you are wondering, the salad here is just a handful of greenery topped with cucumber and melon, with some flaked sea salt, chili flakes and dried oregano sprinkled on top, and drizzled with a good olive oil. Melon and chili work wonderfully well together, and I tend to think that anything more complicated than that would be entirely unnecessary.