I subscribe to a number of food-related magazines: Real Simple, Better Homes and Gardens, Cooks Illustrated and Food & Wine.
I think, this year, I’m going to trade Real Simple for Rachael Ray’s magazine. I’ve been thoroughly unimpressed with the general lack of flavor in Real Simple’s food section, even though I really like the concept of a magazine dedicated to organization.
Anyway, if I had to personify these magazines — personifying inanimate objects is, after all, one of my favorite pastimes — Better Homes and Gardens would be the hippy, organic-only, down-to-earth friend that is best sought out for hiking or an outdoor arts fest. Real Simple is the Type A, completely put together friend who gives the best logic-filled advice. Cooks Illustrated is the super intellectual, museum-g0ing, lover of science. And Food & Wine is the snobby, rich, designer-clothes-wearing friend who throws the best parties and is most fun after a few glasses of wine.
Food & Wine likes to put fancy names on their recipes and use the most expensive, hard-to-find ingredients out there. They also like to use the most involved cooking methods out there.
I rarely make a recipe of theirs, because 1) I probably haven’t even heard of half the ingredients listed so there’s no clues as to how the dish will taste, and 2) I don’t have the time to search through 16 specialty grocery stores, located miles from each other, for freaking wheat berries or whatever .
But occasionally, I realize that a recipe isn’t as scary as it sounds, and I might know where to find all the ingredients, and then I’ll go ahead and try it.
Such as the case with this salmon (original F&W recipe here). Basically you marinate this salmon in chermoula, which is, specifically an Algerian seafood marinade, and then you grill it, and serve it atop this fancy cous cous.
I daresay this is the best salmon I’ve ever cooked. Perhaps it’s because I forgot it was in the fridge, and let it sit in the marinade for over a week. Perhaps it’s because it was grilled to perfection. I don’t know. Whatever it was, I’m going to do it exactly the same the next time I make it.
The recipe includes a sauce composed mostly of ground up cooked mushrooms, tahini (which is a paste made from sesame seeds) and dill. I made up my own sauce, after I didn’t love the F&W version. I found theirs too bitter. Mine is still full of mushrooms, tahini and a bit of dill, but I tried to soften the flavors a bit, so it didn’t over power the salmon infused with the delicate herbal marinade.
So I started by putting my fish fillets into a baggie with the chermoula — made with fresh cilantro, oil (I used sunflower, but you could use canola or vegetable), freshly minced garlic, freshly minced ginger, salt, paprika, turmeric and cumin.