By my face and by my actions, sure ‘twould be logical to call me as such. I have not posted much recently to disclaim the assertion; yet, once more, I will argue that I am not a food blog. There are upwards of eight posts in my queue about travel, job applications, historical research, working in food service, my dance goals, and graduate growing pains. I spend hours each day staring at them, my fingertips resting lightly on the keys of this old computer (graciously loaned to me by a former professor), and, at the same time that I have everything to say, I find I have no way to say it.
Pre-tested recipes and anecdotes dominate my table of contents, in part, because they occupy a simpler space in my mind, a space which can neither offend nor tarnish my personal and professional reputation. They offer a safe haven in a time of great upheaval, but they also speak deeper volumes about my life. With each new recipe conquered, I feel a little more adult, a little more put-together. Each new culinary triumph marks a meal where I did not eat only oreos and peanut butter. They’re small victories, I will concede, but they are grounding. I can’t finish a personal statement. I don’t follow-through with work assignments. I forgot my reel steps, and my hornpipe is in shambles. I lost the flash drive with my thesis and my entire budget on it. I haven’t kissed anyone in seven months. I’m drifting away from friends left and right. The life I’m living sometimes seems like the bastard child of modern sitcom and Austrian Antiheimat literature, but–dammit–I CAN SAUTEE ONIONS.
So, it is with great apology that I, once again, submit for your pleasure a recipe I strongly believe everyone should try. I have been having trouble sleeping lately, and so I’ve been cracking open books I forgot I owned. There is no better way to combat insomnia than returning to a story that has comforted you. About a week ago, I rediscovered my friend Móna’s book, The Chef & I: A Nourishing Narrative. It’s a touching, heart-warming journey through her remarkable life, but it’s also a recipe book. A few months ago, I tried (unsuccessfully) to woo a boy with the delicious fried portobello mushrooms and tomato basil dipping sauce. (Since the food was splendid, I’m assuming it was more a problem with my physical ability than my culinary ability to woo.) Today, I decided to try my hand at the mango salsa salmon.
I was afraid to make this because I’ve never really had mango, I tend to avoid fish except on Lenten Fridays, and I really can’t handle spicy foods. Now that it’s done, my only regret is that I didn’t try it sooner. What you need is simple; what you do with it is simple; and there’s really no way you can mess it up…except, of course, if you trip and drop it on the linoleum. In which case, I expect you to eat it off the floor. You heard me.
The ingredients are as follows: a salmon fillet, salt, pepper, a mango, half a lime, some cilantro, and red pepper flakes. I got my fish frozen from Wal*Mart (yes, Wal*Mart), but I imagine fresh fish is more desirable. Also, if you’re whisking up gourmet meals for one, the whole mango isn’t needed by any stretch of the imagination. I ate half of it during the cooking process because I have no self-control, and I still had too much left over. I ate the last quarter for dessert.
To make the salsa, cut the mango so it’s chunky. The size of the chunks are wholly your prerogative. Having never eaten mango before, this was an adventure. I ended up kind of tearing it apart with my fingers because I am, at heart, a wild beast. Coarsely chop the cilantro then stir it into the mango with your hands. Or a fork if you want to be more civilized. Add a sprinkle of salt and as many pepper flakes as your palate can handle. Then take half a lime and squeeze it until there’s nothing left. Stir it some more and viola!
To make the fish, lather the fillet in salt and black pepper on both sides while you’re heating up a skillet with a drop of olive oil in it. Plop the fish in skin-up and let it sizzle for three minutes while the oven preheats to a “medium” heat. I took this to mean 300 F, because the lowest I’ve ever used is 200 and the highest 400. It worked, so let’s go with 300 F, how bouts? What’s really cool that I didn’t expect is that you can actually see the fish cooking in the skillet. It will turn white starting from the bottom up, and when you flip it over it will have this really lovely textured salt/pepper crust on it–surprise! Anyway, when it’s done chilling in the pan, take it out and let it bake in the oven for about ten minutes. Flop it on a bed of rice (and greens [not pictured because I forgot to buy any]) and top it with the mango!
So, there you go. Another recipe on my Not-A-Food-Blog blog. Hopefully I will have figured out enough about my life to return to the true purpose of this virtual endeavor soon. Jobs, jobs, jobs, growing up, growing up, growing up. In any case, there’s still one Friday left before Easter! Add this to your menu and you will not be sorry.