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Cornmeal Crusted Salmon with Basil Mussel Broth

Cornmeal Crusted Salmon with Basil Mussel Broth

When I started this blog, is was merely to be a way for me to motivate myself to get out of a food rut I’d been wallowing in for a year. The moment our son was born, my appreciation and knowledge of fine cuisine, went out the window alongside my pert, youthful breasts and late nights out with the girls. I knew you were wondering about that, well there you go.

Food after baby consisted mainly of steamed vegetables, salads with bottled dressings and fish baked with a little lemon pepper. Sad isn’t it? I knew I’d gotten into a place I didn’t want to be. A place where my only creative outlet was being stifled by my own laziness. Not to say that I wasn’t busy. Babies do take up a lot of time, but women have been making food from scratch and tending baby for centuries. I knew that a chef was still in there, somewhere, she just needed some inspiration.

That inspiration came in the form of a brand new Nikon D60. Now that I had this amazing camera, I felt I needed to do something with it to justify it’s purchase. Something other than taking pictures of my dog, the kid and the garden. I had a blog, but I’d never actually written anything for it. My husband prodded me to start writing about my one true passion. I needed no other motivation.

Only a few months in now, and the perks of having this creative space are many. Not only do family and friends know what I’m up to and get to immerse themselves in it, but people I don’t even know can too. Some might consider the voyeurism that goes along with blogging a bit weird, but I revel in it. I met a woman in a country market the other day, who asked me about some cilantro. I told her the many culinary uses for it and then proceeded on my way. My ever marketing husband swooped in behind me and mentioned my blog, to which the woman replied, “Oh, I’ve been to it!” Amazing. Strangers read my drivel. Not to lesson the impact of my words on your cerebrum, but it’s astonishing that someone other than my Mother/Sister/Father/Husband, would bother to read my thoughts.

And that brings me to the recipe I’ve featured today.

Recently, some friends of ours called us up to invite us over for dinner. Actually, our dentist and his lovely wife. Not only to eat, but to partake in the cooking and also some laughter and maybe just a little wine. To me cooking is fun, so being invited over to cook is akin to being the guest of honour. I have cooked at their house before, and it was such a good time, our hosts thought it would be a fantastic idea to continue it. We are hoping that we’ll get together twice a month, share recipes, ideas and just plain, good times. Nancy, our host, is my most avid blog reader. Inspired by my culinary adventures, she has taken on some of my best recipes. So kudos Nancy, you’ve definitely got the onions.

But you see, it was this blog that made this monthly cook off possible, and I couldn’t be happier. I have other things in the works as well, though I’m not at liberty to mention them just yet. Suffice it to say, I won’t be stopping any time soon.

For all my Canadian readers, Happy Thanksgiving! I hope this year has brought as much joy and happiness to you as it has to myself and my family. Cheers to everyone on this special holiday! Although, today’s recipe wouldn’t normally be considered a holiday meal, around these parts, seafood is welcome any time of year.

Finished set table

For our first meal, we decided to make Chef Michael Smith’s Cornmeal Crusted Salmon in a Basil Mussel Broth, served with my Miso Oysters, Ceaser Salad and bread for soaking up all that delicious nectar of the sea.

Cornmeal Crusted Salmon with Basil Mussel Broth

Adapted from Michael Smith

2lbs. of fresh mussels, debearded**
1 cup of Riesling or other dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup of pesto
1 cup of fine cornmeal
1 Tbsp. Paprika
salt and fresh cracked pepper
4 6-oz salmon filets, skin on
3 Tbsp. Corn oil or other neutral flavoured oil

1. In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, over medium high heat, add cream, wine and mussels.

Steaming mussels in cream both
2. Cover with lid to keep steam in, and cook 5-7 minutes, or until mussels are all fully opened.

Fresh Mussel Meat

3. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Once cool, remove mussel meat from shells, toss shells and set meat in small bowl. Pour cream sauce into smaller saucepan, add pesto and set that aside as well.

Basil Mussel broth
4. Place cornmeal, salt, pepper and Paprika in a large plastic bag. Shake each salmon filet separately in bag to coat. In large sauté pan, heat corn oil on medium high. Add salmon, skin side down first to hot pan. Sear for 5-6 minutes per side, or until cornmeal crust is browned and crisp and salmon is done to medium.

Frying Cornmeal Crusted Salmon

5. Heat cream/pesto sauce until warmed through, add mussel meat back to sauce and continue to warm.
6. In bowls, add one salmon filet and top with mussels and some of the sauce.
7. Serve with plenty of crusty bread for dipping.

** Mussel shells should be tightly closed. If not, give it a tap, if it does not close, mussel is dead and should be discarded.

Finished set table

I have to say thank you to Nancy and Jay for your hospitality, good company, fine beverages and great food. Cheers, we’ll be seeing you again soon!

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