Skipping meat on Fridays is a centuries-old expression of Christian contrition, especially during Lent. But given the price of fish these days — a form of penance in itself — you should maximize the pleasure and flavor of what you buy.
Many consumers don't know what to buy or how to cook fish. Hence this recipe primer, with ideas for Lent. To keep things simple, the focus is on salmon, a good-for-you food rich in heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids.
Salmon with beurre blanc
Poach, steam or microwave 4 pieces of salmon until just cooked through. Meanwhile, prepare this sauce from Seafood (DK, $35): Cut 1 stick butter into small chunks. Melt 2 tablespoons in a small saucepan; add 1 finely chopped shallot. Cook until soft, about 2 or 3 minutes. Add 5 tablespoons fish stock, water or clam juice, and 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar. Heat to a boil, then simmer until reduced to about 3 tablespoons.
Reduce heat to very low; add remaining butter a few pieces at a time, whisking vigorously between additions. Keep sauce hot but not boiling. Sauce should be very creamy once all butter is added. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, spritz with fresh lemon juice. Spoon over salmon.
Makes 4 servings
Try to get an entire side of cold-smoked salmon; it looks so impressive on a platter. Serve with all the trimmings: paper-thin rings of red onion, capers, chopped fresh dill, butter curls, a cruet of olive oil, cracked pepper, assorted breads.
Makes 6 servings
Salmon salad in avocado
Drain a 14¾-ounce can salmon or 2 pouches (6 to 7 ounces each) skinless, boneless salmon. Mash in a small bowl with a fork. Add ¾ cup low-fat mayonnaise; 3 sliced green onions; 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped; 1 tablespoon capers, drained; and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
Split two large avocados lengthwise; remove pits. Place half on a plate. Stuff with salmon mixture. Garnish with more parsley. Serve with toasted pita triangles, Melba toast or bread sticks.
Makes 4 servings.