I went to Farmboy today to cash in on this great sale of wild Coho salmon steaks -- sadly, I was a day early (stupid flyers). I was bummed-out for only a moment however, because I soon spied a beautiful piece of Irish salmon on the ice. I hesitated for a second, having locavore tendancies, but then realised that Ireland is probably about as close to Ottawa as B.C. is, so why not?
I knew I'd seen a whole chapter on salmon in Coleman Andrews's The Country Cooking of Ireland, and figured I should do right by this Irish fish by cooking it in a traditional way. I thought I'd hit paydirt when I came across a recipe for honey roasted salmon -- apparently the prehistoric folks in Ireland cooked it this way (although how ANYBODY knows THAT is beyond me -- I mean, it's "pre"-history, right?).
ANYWAY, I dutifully followed the recipe (which I won't detail here, since as you may have guessed from the title, it doesn't really work). I made the glaze with wine, lemon, and honey (which I thought looked too thin, but onwards!). Poured it on the fish (still seemed kinda thin). Broiled for the recommended time (which seemed too short). Pulled the fish out (it wasn't done). Re-glazed (because, well, you know). And finished cooking the fillet to the normal and reliable 10 minutes per inch of thickness, and then it was finally done.
(Just a quick aside here. When you broil fish, it should be about 4 inches from the heat. The trouble with most ovens I've used is that the highest rack setting is too close, but the next lower one is too far. The solution is to...
So, in the end this dish came out just fine -- in large part thanks to the great quality of the fish, in no part thanks to the recipe. The same thing happened with the oat cakes I tried from this book. In the end, I figured out a way to make something wonderful, but the recipe was only the beginning of the process. This can be fun in a way, since you have to take the initiative and solve a problem, but we only get to eat so many meals! You can't pull this stunt all the time, and two strikes in a cookbook gets it pretty close to the dust-collector shelf.
However, just like it was the the oat cakes, there is a nugget of inspiration there, and I'll be working on my own version of honey glazed salmon. Stay tuned!
So that's why Colman Andrews is driving me crazy -- I find great ideas in his book, but then get sent on a quest to figure out how to make them work (this is fine if you're a normal person, but not so great if you have one-track-mind-itis like me).