I blame it all on those cooking shows I've been watching recently, especially Masterchef, the reality TV show featuring amateur cooks, currently in its third season in Australia. In Masterchef land, plates are dotted with sauce, swiped with puree, and swirled with chocolate in a concerted effort to impress. Delicate cuts of meat artfully graze amongst idyllic fields of vegetables, exuding an air of confidence and serenity despite their impending fate.
Poorly equipped as I may be with my limited stash of kitchen supplies - not to mention cooking and decorating skills - I decided to embark myself upon a "pretty dish challenge", with a cruel and unintended 1-hour timeframe for cooking, photographing, eating and washing up, as this was a late lunch and I had to rush off to my uncle's house out in the suburbs for an early dinner.
Did I succeed? Well, sort of.
|pan-grilled lime and pepper infused salmon and asparagus, topped with yoghurt, pomegranate and mint.|
What might I say about my dish if I were a judge on Masterchef? (I'm a very busy girl, aren't I, pretending to be a contestant AND a judge in my own made-up challenge!)
Me (as a judge): "Your heart may be in the right place, but your execution is a little clumsy. The pieces of salmon are shoddily cut - perhaps you should've just left the fillet whole. And the asparagus stalks are not all trimmed to quite the same length. You need to refine your plating-up skills, but I do love the fresh and vibrant colours in this dish. Now let's see how it tastes."
*takes a bite and chews thoughtfully*
"The salmon is tender and juicy, ditto the asparagus, and I like the flavour hit of lime and black pepper. But it's not quite the complete dish, is it?"
Right, my time constraints meant that I was eating my portion of fish and asparagus off the pan as it cooked, so I didn't actually end up trying the full version with the yoghurt, pomegranate seeds and mint leaves. These all ended up in the one semi-pretty plate that I served to Simon. So he'll have to claim position as the second judge.
The thing is, though, with Simon, I don't really get very comprehensive feedback.
Me: "Time for lunch!"
Simon, grinning: "That's a little posh, isn't it?"
Me: "Don't laugh at me, just eat it. What do you think?"
Simon: "It's nice."
Me, playing insecure girlfriend/food blogger role: "Are you just saying that?"
Simon: "No, you know I'm not a big fan of salmon, but I'm finding this really easy to eat."
And that was it. On the plus side, Simon is quite an honest judge and has at times expressed reluctance to eat (or finish eating) certain dishes I made, so, considering he finished everything on the plate, I am quite content with this verdict of his. And you will just have to trust him.
pan-grilled lime and pepper infused salmon & asparagus, topped with yoghurt, pomegranate & mint
(makes 2 very modest lunch servings)
2 small salmon fillets (approx. 250g total)
12 stalks asparagus, trimmed
1.5 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon grated lime zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 heaped tablespoons greek yoghurt
2 heaped tablespoons pomegranate seeds
20 small mint leaves
- Combine lime juice, olive oil, salt, black pepper and lime zest. Use half this mixture as a marinade and rub all over the salmon and asparagus. Reserve the other half for drizzling later.
- On a heated grill or frying pan, cook asparagus spears for about 4 minutes, turning occasionally and testing for tenderness.
- Pan-grill or pan-fry salmon on all sides - exact times will depend on the thickness of the salmon fillet. I cook them until they turn just opaque on each side, and the whole process invariably takes less than 10 minutes.
- For each plate, arrange asparagus spears in a tight square. Place salmon fillet on top. Add a tablespoon of yoghurt. Scatter pomegranate seeds and mint leaves in decorative fashion. Lightly drizzle with seasoning mixture, and sprinkle with more salt and black pepper if desired.
|pan-grilled salmon and asparagus infused with black pepper, lime juice and olive oil, topped with yoghurt, mint and pomegranate.|