Amanda Hesser's Butternut Squash Curry
Jamie Oliver's Eggplant Parmesan

David Kinch's Salmon with Hot Mustard Glaze


That's one glorious piece of fish, isn't it? The palest of pinks, oozing with freshness and moisture, and perfectly crisped on top. I have to say, if there's one thing to be learned from this recipe, it's how to cook the perfect piece of salmon. But then there's actually a second thing to learn. And that is that a hot mustard glaze isn't as good as it sounds.

I wanted to love this, I really did. After all, who can resist a recipe with just four ingredients? And from none other than David Kinch, of Manresa and Pim-ian fame? With a pedigree like that, this salmon was bound to be destined for the lamination files, I thought. Well, and to be fair, the method - briefly searing a center-cut piece of salmon on each side, then sticking it in a low oven for twenty minutes until it emerges quiveringly perfect - is possibly the only way I'll ever cook salmon again.

(I'll have to make an exception for poaching, since poached salmon is truly glorious, and because you can then combine it with a cooling yogurt-herb sauce and serve it in the summer and feel like an English rose and in addition, there's the very very very important bonus that poaching a salmon does not make your house smell like cooked fish and if there's one real problem I have in the kitchen, it's that cooked fish hanging in the air for a day or two or even three drives me absolutely batty and no amount of scented candles or yanked open doorways or tasteful room spray (there is such a thing, I swear, but you have to get feuille de menthe, that's the only one I can vouch for) can appease me until, well, a few days go by and I get around to cooking something new and the old smell finally goes away.)

BUT. Where was I? Oh yes, the mustard glaze. I don't know. It was too sweet and clashed oddly with the fish. There's no salt in the recipe and the glaze is really more of a slurry that runs right off the fish before the pan goes in the oven. Which maybe is the point? It seemed odd that I had to throw away so much of the mustard-sugar-water combination after brushing the fish with it. I've never made Nobu's famous miso-glazed cod (was it cod? sablefish? black cod? you know what I'm talking about), but I wonder if this recipe was born out of a fad started by that dish.

Ho-hum. I am suddenly convinced that this could quite possibly be the least interesting post I've ever written. Are you as bored as I am? The rest of this is going to be brief. The method, people, is what's important here. Okay? Forget about the glaze. That's all that really matters. And with that, I'm off to contemplate my bright future in food journalism, what with this post and all.

Salmon with Hot Mustard Glaze
Serves 4

½ cup mustard powder, preferably Colman's
½ cup sugar
2 pounds center-cut salmon fillet, about 2 inches thick at its thickest, with skin
2½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.

1.  Heat oven to 250 degrees. In a small bowl whisk mustard, sugar and ½ cup water together. Set aside.

2. Cut salmon into four uniform portions. Pat dry with paper towel. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy ovenproof skillet over high heat; skillet should be large enough to hold salmon without crowding. Add salmon skin side up, and sear quickly about 2 minutes, until it can be lifted easily with a spatula without sticking. Turn, and sear about 2 minutes skin side down. Thickest part should still be raw in center.

3. Brush top of salmon with remaining olive oil and then with mustard mixture. Place in oven about 20 minutes, until medium-rare in center. (An instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part should register 100 to 110 degrees.) Remove from oven, and serve.