As some of you know, I lived in my fraternity house in college. For those of you who go to big state schools and live in fraternity housing; your house and my house are not the same. Your house has huge marble columns, mine doesn’t. Your house probably has 18 bedrooms and houses 40 guys, mine doesn’t. Your house probably has a nice big kitchen, maybe even a cook. Mine doesn’t. My house may not be a “frat mansion”, but it’s my house, and I love it. My house is old, gross and held together by duct tape, spackle, and love. Our kitchen was well worn in, which is just a nice way of saying that it’s not very nice. In reality, the six burner and double oven industrial setup with 8 ft. metal table suited my needs very well. There’s nothing quite like cooking Thanksgiving (or as we called our annual celebration in which we invited friends and faculty, “Fratsgiving”) for 50 people with an industrial stove. It actually was one hell of a setup. The problem was that it wasn’t very intimate, there was little I felt like I could do if I just wanted to have a nice, romantic dinner with my girlfriend. Because of this, I migrated to her apartment when we wanted to make dinner.
My girlfriend and I made a habit of cooking dinner together at least once a week during the semester. Well, she liked to call it, “you cooking and me watching because you don’t let me do anything” Sorry babe, but when I’m in the kitchen, I get into my “zone” and she knows that and respects that. One of the many reasons I love her. Anyways, we always tried to make a healthy meal. Nothing too heavy and nothing too complicated, this way we could actually enjoy it, relax and not have to worry about feeling guilty, especially since we tended to eat out a lot or not eat the healthiest because, ya know, college.
One of my favorite recipes was this, Baked Salmon w/ Wasabi-Honey Panko, in which we took two pieces of salmon and topped it with a Wasabi sauce mixed with honey and panko. It was then put over a bed of asparagus and baked until the top started to turn brown and fragrant. We would serve it with some nice thick-crusted Italian bread with some olive oil and a glass of Sauvengion Blanc. Meals like this were perfect because I would get in the kitchen, have a glass of wine, turn on some jazz or Frank Sinatra, maybe dance with my girlfriend after the wine kicked in and just be carefree. It’s moment like that make us happy.
This recipe is super simple and can be easily adapted to anyone’s palate. Some people may find the wasabi (wasabi/horseradish) based top to have too much bite, that’s cool! You can change this to either a milder horseradish based sauce or even a hearty mustard based top. Personally, though, I find it best to chose a base flavor that has bite; wasabi, horseradish, or mustard would be my go to. This is however not the dominating flavor. This is only a base flavor, to this goes the honey or some other sweet thickener. Off the top of my head, I can think of three combinations:
This base is then mixed with Panko breadcrumbs and sits atop the salmon. If you prefer, or if your pantry does not allow, you can use standard breadcrumbs. The reason I like to use Panko is because panko is resistant to absorbing oil and fat when frying, which makes it lighter and crispier than traditional breadcrumbs. When it is mixed with the wasabi and the honey, the baking allows it to not become a heavy coating which I found would occur with regular breadcrumbs, rather, I have found that this topping is a bit softer and allows the excess liquid to be baked into the salmon which means the salmon doesn’t have to be seasoned other than a conservative sprinkling of salt and pepper.
Baked Salmon w/ Wasabi-Honey Panko
- 2 fillets of salmon (wild caught preferred)
- 1 lb of asparagus
- 1/3 cup Inglehoffer Wasabi
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 cup panko (add as needed for the desired consistency)
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- Loaf of hearty Italian Bread
- Salt & Pepper
- Heat the oven to 375*F
- Cut the bottom off the asparagus and lightly oil them. Toss with some salt and pepper and place in a glass dish.
- Lightly season the salmon with some salt and pepper and place side skin down over the asparagus. In a small dish, combine the wasabi, honey, lemon juice, and panko. Add a pinch of salt and top the salmon. Using a fork, press the topping over the salmon and drag across to create texture. This is largely for aesthetics, but it will definitely help your dish look great.
- Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.
- Wrap your bread in tinfoil and place the bread in the oven.
- Remove the salmon and bread and allow to come to just above room temperature
- Plate the salmon and asparagus. Cut the bread into thick cuts and drizzle with a gentle amount of extra virgin olive oil. Add a pinch of salt to your bread.
- Enjoy with a glass of white wine.
Even if you aren’t a trained or even confident, cook, you can still show your loved ones how much they mean to you by making a healthy and delicious dinner. I think its good for the soul to pour a glass of wine, turn on some Sinatra, and dance in the kitchen while dinner is in the oven. Life is hard, why should cooking be too.
When you see something delicious, it doesn’t mean you can’t make it or find something better. Sometimes it’s easier than you think. Want to see more? like this post and hit subscribe! Don’t forget to check out our other social media accounts and comment below!
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