Indian Fusion Cuisine in Portland and Tucson
Gettin’ all Garfield on ya.
All clichés aside, let’s face it, Sunday is a struggle.
Sunday morning goes off without a hitch, all is well and good. Maybe you’re fortunate enough to schedule a snuggle with someone that sends warm fuzzies to your heart or perhaps a leisurely stroll in the early morning hours with your pup, kid, cat or metal dectectar. Lazy. Lucious. Loungy. You’re soaking it up, drowning in a sea of pillow fights, doggie distractions, whispering sweet nothings to your budding baby mustard greens, and then it hits you. It’s usually around 3:45, when you start to do the math, the countdown to the enivitable Monday.
“Six hours and fifteen minutes of usable awake time. Five hours and thirty two minutes before I have to put away my lampshade hat.”
“three hours and twenty four minutes before I have to drain the bathtub full of jello”
The sun starts to move from white light to its buttery golden end.
Three hours. You’ve got three more hours of freedom before you’re committed to responsibility mode.
This predicament I know all too well. I am a huge advocate of the three day weekend. I find it entirely unfair that we must spend our Sunday afternoon in Monday’s dark and impending shadow. Lucky for me, I’m the world’s biggest jerk who sets her own schedule. My Mondays revolve around geeking out on some spice alchemy on and finding new obnoxious ways to insert another layer of bougie into rustic Indian fare. But even with the liberating career change, I do feel the pinch – as I count down the last hours before my partner clocks in. So what’s for dinner? Sunday Dinner…
Growing up I was wholly unaware of the “Sunday dinner” concept. Big comforting starchy accompaniments dancing in delicious gobs of butter. All of this wonder graciously dressing your Sunday wounded heart with ever so loving and lucisous fatty band-aids. Don’t get me wrong, thumbing through Sunday dinner photos are my favorite alone-in-a-dark-closet-with-a-flashlight eye candy pastimes, I just don’t think I ever understood the logic behind the big Sunday dinner. Why put yourself through this extended weekend torture of an extreme comfort food tease when you’re just going to have to squeeze yourself into some awkwardly sized and unflatteringly tight fitting polyester pants in the morning? What good does this extra last hurrah “I am king of the all the lands” mentality do, when you know that you’ll be spending all of your tomorrow finding ways to politely word replies to emails from lovely indignant co-workers of yours wondering why you didn’t respond to that email they sent you at midnight on Saturday?
For me Sunday dinners have got to be something different. Something that continues to feel like a holiday, but doesn’t trap you in a fantasty Friday artery clogging grease trap. Not my usual overly spiced, multi-culti textural fare, nor the crazy over the top pretentious circus act of a plate teeming with 60 overbloated adjectives alienating everyone that falls into categories other than “food hipster” and “eccentric billionaire”. I like Sunday meals to be on the warmer side of simple. On the homier side of bistro. Something with a little love, a touch of heat, a sprinkling of spice, something that can be made and cleaned up after in about an hour. Something bright and fresh, spicy but not too showy, comforting but not elastic waistband territory, using ingredients already on hand.
This is the first in a new Sunday dinner series I’m starting. It’s a guajillo chili seared salmon with a red beans and “rice” made with quiona, accompanied with sautéed greens and a roasted yellow pepper and habanero cream.
This meal is kind of a throw back to meals that I first made when I learned how to cook fish. While I love the soft tender flesh of flakey fall apart baked and broiled salmon, I do miss that lovely crispy sear on a perfectly portioned fillet. This recipe is entirely satisfying without the salmon and can be quickly changed into a vegan dish substituting the cream for coconut milk. The jalapeno relish can be diced up and mixed along with the quinoa as well.
Adzuki beans. Quinoa. Bell peppers. Salmon. Kale. – Let’s make something.
Seared salmon with chili-spiced red beans and quinoa with yellow pepper puree
¾ cup of quinoa
1/3 cup adzuki beans
2 tsps of chili seasoning (see recipe below)
3-4 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
1 roasted yellow or orange pepper (coarsely chopped)
1/3 cup of whole milk/cream
1 roasted jalepeno
(2) 4 oz salmon fillets
4 cups of hearty greens (I used two cups of swiss chard and two cups of kale)
Citrus (preferably 1 lemon and 1 orange)
Handful of cilantro (minced)
Oil (I used a mixture of olive and coconut)
Red (adzuki) beans and rice (quinoa):
In a 2-quart sauce pan add the adzuki beans, bay leaf, along with 1 smashed garlic clove and 3 cups of water. Drizzle a smidgen of olive oil in there. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer on low heat and cover. Cook for 35-40 minutes until the beans are ¾ of the way cooked. If most of the water has evaporated add 1 cup hot water and, 1 teaspoon of chili seasoning as well as 1 teaspoon of salt with the quiona. Cook for another 12 minutes until the quinoa is cooked through and fluffy.
Yellow pepper/habanero Puree:
While the beans are simmering, slice a cheek off of the habanero (we’re going for warm, not hot – so about the size of a nickel is sufficient) and dice up the piece finely (you can freeze the remaining portion) Add habanero into the blender along with the roasted red pepper, milk/cream, 1 smashed clove of garlic, and a hearty pinch of salt. Puree until smooth and strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl.
In a large sauté pan add one tablespoon of coconut oil into the pan on low heat. Add two smashed cloves of garlic into the oil, toss around for 2 minutes or until the edges of the garlic turn a very light brown. Increase to medium high heat and immediately add all the greens to the pan.
Throw in ½ teaspoon of salt and toss together with a pinch of chili powder for three to four minutes until the greens just start to wilt. Turn off the pan and set aside.
Roasted Jalapeno salsa/relish:
Finely mince a clove of garlic into a fine paste and place into a small bowl. Bisect the roasted jalapeno in half and remove the seeds and veins. Cut the chili into thin strips and add to garlic along with ½ teaspoon of orange zest as well as one tsp of lemon zest and a tablespoon of lemon juice.
Drizzle a couple teaspoons of good fruity extra virgin olive oil with a hearty pinch of salt and touch of freshly grated black pepper. Toss to coat and set aside.
Time to sear the salmon!
Salt both sides of the salmon, adding a little extra salt to the skin side (this will help to draw out extra moisture from the skin and deliver crispy results). Sprinkle ¼-1/2 teaspoon of the chili powder to the flesh side of the salmon. Your skillet of choice should be a medium to large heavy bottomed pan, something big enough to accommodate the fish fully on the flat surface. Put your pan on high heat and add two tablespoons of coconut (or vegetable/canola oil) into the pan until the oil is nice and hot and shimmers across the pan. Place the salmon in the pan skin side up and sear for 3 – 4 minutes until you start to see the bottom of flesh just start to brown.
The salmon should lift off easy from the pan when it’s ready to go. Flip and cook in high heat for another 3 minutes. Drain the salmon on a paper towel.
When you’re ready to eat spoon a couple spoonfuls of the quinoa and greens together and nestle the salmon against it. Top with the roasted citrus jalapenos and spoon a bit of the citrusy oil mixture (from the jalapeno relish) over the salmon to reawaken it. Indulge!
Feel free to wake up Monday, call in sick and eat the leftovers in bed. This meal makes watching Mad Men in your PJ’s way more classy.
Spice seasoning mix:
Makes about ½ a cup
I love making my own seasoning mixes, but if you don’t have a spice blender, dedicated spice coffee grinder or mortar and pestle use a premade dried Mexican chili spice blend that you like. (Of course you can always flag me down for a custom spice blend from me if you wish).
1 dried guajillo chili
1 medium dried ancho chili
1 dried habanero (or 1 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes to taste)
1 tsp of peppercorns
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp of dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried onion powder/flakes
2 tsp garlic powder/flakes
Combine and whiz/pound and store in an airtight container.