Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thai Basil Salmon and Swiss Chard

I'm not really a huge fan of Asian-inspired flavors in  my cooking, preferring instead to use Mediterranean and Cuban influences.  However, I am a big fan of Thai basil, and I grew a beautiful huge plant in the herb garden in 2010, enough for fresh Thai basil all summer as well as a stock of dried and frozen.  The last of the frozen basil in oil was in the freezer, so it was time to experiment with a way of using it.

This recipe takes inspiration from my mojito salmon.  As you can see, prices of wild-caught Alaskan salmon have really gone up; I think this package came in around $8 for two pieces.  I still think it is a worthwhile centerpiece to the meal, especially since everything else came from the spice cabinet or the garden.

Thai Basil Salmon and Swiss Chard
1 package wild-caught Alaskan Salmon (2 fillets)
1/2 pint Thai basil chopped and frozen in oil (or a comparable amount of fresh, plus some olive oil for the pan)
curry powder
smoked sea salt
baby Swiss chard (from the sunroom)

Place the salmon fillets in a pan and sprinkle with curry powder and smoked sea salt.  Plop the frozen Thai basil in.  If you are using fresh basil, you will want to put a dollop of oil in the pan and then place the chopped basil on top of the seasoned fish.

Bake at 350 until done, about 30 minutes for the fillets I used.  Reach in the oven once in a while and stir the Thai basil around and make sure it is coated with oil and sitting nicely on top of the fish.  This keeps the basil hydrated and makes it wilt rather than dry out and get crispy and burnt.  When done, place each fillet on top of chopped baby Swiss chard, being sure to dress both fish and chard with the now-baked Thai basil, and serve.

The Analysis

Fast:  I love baked fish dishes because you just season the fish and stick it in the oven.  Fish goes so well over greens that we often omit the starch for these meals.

Cheap:  Fish prices are on the rise, but I basically got one large serving and a couple of small ones out of this package of salmon, which was around $8.

Good:  To me, this was just the right hint of curry and Thai basil to suggest Asian flavors but not overwhelm.  If you love the Asian flavor profiles, you can go all-out with more curry and some roasted chiles.
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