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Crispy-skin salmon, quinoa pilaf, gingery greens

Notes on an amalgamation: a good combo for meal prepping, but to get a good quantity you kind of have to double everything. Quinoa pilaf loosely based on this recipe, minus the extras, greens via Mark Bittman, and crispy-skin salmon with guidance from seriouseats.

Quinoa pilaf #

Double the above if doubling!

  1. Heat oil in pot on medium. A minute later, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring, for a good 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then add the liquid all at once.
  3. Cover and cook until the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Add liquid as needed. Cook until tender. If any liquid remains, remove the lid and raise the heat a bit, stirring, until the liquid evaporates.

Gingery greens #

Again, double above if doubling!

  1. Wash the greens in several changes of water and remove any pieces of stem thicker than 1/4 inch in diameter.
  2. Cook them in a medium saucepan, in 1 inch of water until good and soft, 10 minutes or more depending on the green (older collards will require 30 minutes). Drain them, rinse in cool water, squeeze dry, and chop.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. When hot, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute; do not brown.
  4. Add the greens and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes; add the ginger and cook for another minute, then add the soy sauce and sesame oil and turn off the heat. Transfer to a platter and keep warm.

Crispy-skin salmon #

Per J. Kenji López-Alt, start with good salmon. I've just been getting filets from Trader Joe's. If you're doubling for meal prep, you probably want 2 good-sized filets.

Dry it best you can. I pat it down with paper towels and then let it sit between paper towels while I'm cooking the other stuff above.

You'll probably have to remove the scales. This is annoying but don't forget it's all going to be so good! Best way seems to be rubbing the dull edge of a knife against the grain of the scales, repeatedly, and just using your fingers to get what otherwise doesn't come so easily. I wipe what I get off on paper towels and keep going.

Season the salmon generously with salt and pepper, and make sure to get both sides. Cut into meal-sized pieces before cooking.

Preheat a thin layer of oil in a stainless steel, cast iron, or carbon steel skillet over medium-high heat until it starts to shimmer. This is the most important step. If salmon enters a pan that's too cold, it can actually form a chemical bond with the metal, making it impossible to flip without tearing up the skin. Preheating the pan and oil will rapidly set the proteins in the fish before it has a chance to start bonding.

Just before adding the fish, lower the heat under the pan to medium-low. Carefully add the fish to the pan. As soon as the salmon is in the pan, press gently but firmly on the back of it for about 10 seconds with a flexible, slotted fish spatula.

Cook through on one side about 90% of the way before flipping — maybe about 6 min? Flip and cook very briefly on the other side, about 1 min?

Transfer the salmon to a paper towel–lined plate to drain off any excess oil, and let it rest for a couple of minutes before serving.