Swimming up stream

Salmon lead a fascinating life...

Beginning life as tiny eggs hatched in a stream bed, they spend a few years in the streams and rivers before they begin their journey downstream to the ocean. Their bodies change to adapt to life in saltwater and after several years of frolicking in the ocean, their bodies re-adjust to freshwater so they can swim through miles and miles of rugged, upstream rapids and waterfalls to return to their spawning grounds to breed and lay eggs. Those that make the trip back usually die within a week of laying their eggs and those that don't make it back to the spawning grounds end up on a plate smothered with ginger-cilantro pesto.

Okay, so maybe it's not such an exciting life because either way, the end result is belly up. Maybe the lesson to be learned here is that we should make the most of the time spent swimming downstream because we just don't know if we'll make it back. While I continue to feel particularly philosophical today, maybe you should just go lead a fascinating life and enjoy this recipe before we all go belly up.

Grilled Salmon with Ginger-Cilantro Pesto on Sauteed Greens
Holland America's Taste of Elegance Cookbook

Serves 4

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and light green parts only, plus 1 extra scallion thinly sliced (for garnish)
1/3 cup salted roasted macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup chopped peeled fresh ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
7 tbls vegetable oil, divided
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 (6 oz) salmon steaks or fillets, 1" thick
1-1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
2 bunches arugula or 3 bunches watercress, coarse stems discarded and the greens rinsed but not spun dry

To make the pesto, combine the cilantro, 1/3 cup scallions, macadamia nuts, ginger, and cayenne in a food processor. Blend until the nuts are finely chopped. While processing, slowly add 6 tablespoons vegetable oil until the mixture is well blended. Season with salt and pepper. The pesto can be made 1 day ahead. Cover, chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Heat a grill (charcoal, gas, or electric) to medium-high heat. Brush the salmon with the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the salmon on an oiled rack until just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Alternatively, you can cook the fish in a large hot grill pan over moderately high heat or under a preheated broiler until opaque in the center, about 4 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet saute the garlic in the olive oil over moderately high heat for 30 seconds, or until it is fragrant. Add the arugula and stir the mixture until it is well combined. Cook, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the greens aer just wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

Put the sauteed greens in the center of serving platter. Top with the salmon, pesto, and sliced scallion and serve immediately.



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