Salmon in Luxurious Green Sesame Pipian, Brown Rice, and Kale

by Kelly on August 15, 2009

When I want salmon with a bit of a kick, this is the dish I cook. The salmon is poached in an easy-to-make tomatillo and sesame sauce. The sauce is especially wonderful over brown rice, which accents the nuttiness of the sesame paste. If you aren’t a fan of brown rice, try it again with this sauce. I also recommend investing in a good rice cooker. I scoffed at my husband’s Christmas request for the Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy rice cooker, but it has turned out to be one our most-used small appliances — second only to our espresso machine. The cooker has a timer so your rice can be perfectly cooked and waiting for you when you arrive home in the evening. This is especially useful when cooking brown rice, which can take an hour or more to cook on the stove top.

Salmon, rice, kale

Salmon in Luxurious Green Sesame Pipian
adapted from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

2 cups (480 ml) store-bought or homemade tomatillo salsa (Xochitol brand recommended)
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 cup (240 ml) chicken broth
3 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1  heaping cup (150 g) peas (fresh or frozen)
4 boneless, skinless salmon, halibut, walleye, snapper or striped bass fillets, 4 to 5 oz each, about 1/2 inch thick
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, for garnish
chopped cilantro, for garnish

In a blender or food processor, process the salsa to a smooth purée. Heat the oil in a very large (12-inch) skillet over a medium-high heat. When quite hot, add the salsa all at once. Stir until the salsa reduces to the consistency of tomato paste, about 5 minutes. Stir in the broth and tahini. Return to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and season with salt (if needed) and sugar to balance the tartness of the salsa.

While the sauce is simmering, steam the peas until just hot and tender. When the sauce has cooked for 10 minutes, nestle the fish fillets in it, completely submerging them. Continue simmering gently until the fish flakes when pressed firmly, usually 5 to 6 minutes. Check by lifting a fillet from the sauce on a metal spatula and pressing with your finger or the back of a spoon.

Transfer a fish fillet to each dinner plate and spoon a portion of the sauce over top. Strew with peas, sesame seeds and cilantro.


Boiled Kale

There are two basic ways to cook kale: sauteed or boiled. I used boiled kale for this menu, mixing it with a bit of the sesame pipian as I ate. To prepare the kale, rinse the leaves well under warm water and drain in a colander, discarding any discolored leaves. Trim away and discard any tough stem ends, making a V‑shaped cut at the stem end. Slice leaves cross-wise into 1‑inch strips. Place into a large pot filled with well-salted boiling water. Boil for 5 to 10 minutes, until the kale is tender. Drain the kale, then serve with the topping of your choice (butter, sesame seeds, soy sauce, etc.). For this menu, I kept the kale in the cooking water (off the heat) until I was ready to plate it, ensuring that it was piping hot and tender when served.

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