It was one of those days… again. You know, the kind of day that’s filled with lots of running errands, returning phone calls, scheduling meetings, school activities, and let’s not forget the dreaded laundry. Yes, my least favorite chore… in the whole wide world! Sometimes I just ignore it hoping the laundry fairy will magically appear and finish it for me. But alas, the laundry fairy didn’t appear and I still had dinner to prepare.
Of course it was a busy weekend and I didn’t get my menu planned on Sunday. Monday afternoon arrived quickly and I found myself scrambling for a great dinner idea only to find myself power walking through the grocery store once again. I might as well terminate my gym membership as I’m forever power walking my local market in 30 minutes or less, which is also how much time I had to get dinner on the table. Yes, even a Chef has an occasional “I don’t know what I’m going to make for dinner” day.
Fish always seems like a good idea especially when I’m short on time. King salmon is in season in my neck of the woods and it’s one of those immensely versatile fish that can be topped with as little as fresh lemon, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, or as fussy as a white wine beurre blanc. However, I decided to try something a little different, a bit retro if you will.
When I was young, eating fish and veggies with mayonnaise was all the rage. In fact, as I was perusing my Mom’s old cookbooks I found several of these delicious little mayonnaise recipes. Many of the recipes sounded more like an aioli than a true mayonnaise. Aioli is much like a mayonnaise, although, it can be prepared with or without eggs, mustard and garlic.
Why not use mayonnaise as a base and create a delicious herbed dipping sauce for fish? So the experiment began. Ranger Craig grilled the fresh salmon with a bit of lemon, sea salt and pepper and I prepared the sauce. Using fresh arugula, lemon and shallots I blended the sauce with additional milk, sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper; fresh, basic ingredients that beautifully complimented the grilled salmon and made for a quick and exquisite meal. Add a salad of baby greens tossed in a light vinaigrette and your tasty meal is complete.
If you are a purist at heart and would love to prepare your own mayonnaise I’ve included some information and a recipe below. I like using an olive oil or safflower oil based mayo whenever possible, but feel free to use your favorite brand. As well, these divine little sauces can be used on any fish you might have on hand.
For the Arugula Mayonnaise:
1/3 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup milk (or more for a thinner dipping sauce)
¼ cup fresh arugula, packed
1 tablespoon chopped shallots
Zest of one lemon (about 1 teaspoon)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Kosher or sea salt to taste
Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a food processor, blender or if using an emulsion blender place the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.
Blend ingredients until the arugula is nicely incorporated into the sauce. Taste for seasoning and serve with your favorite grilled, roasted or pan seared fish.
Serve with a salad of spring greens and little tomatoes tossed in a little olive oil and seasoned rice wine vinegar.
For a simple roasted salmon:
Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
Place a piece of foil in the bottom of a shallow baking dish and then set the salmon skin side down on the foil. Season the salmon with a squeeze of fresh lemon, a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper and a sprinkling of fresh herbs if you like.
Roast the salmon just until the outside is firm and opaque but the inside is still a tiny bit pink. For an average sized piece of salmon it might take about 8-10 minutes, however the cooking time will vary depending on the size of the fillet or steak.
Remove the salmon from the oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving. Serve with the arugula mayonnaise and salad of spring greens.
TIP: This mayonnaise is fabulous for cold cut sandwiches, chicken salad sandwiches or cold salmon or fish cakes.
Julia’s Homemade Mayonnaise (From www.whatscookingamerica.net)
Mayonnaise is one of the many foods that is referred to as an emulsion. An emulsion is a combination of two unlike components. According to Julia Child, mayonnaise is also something every cook must confidently and rapidly whip up on command with nary a qualm, because it is one of the elemental cookery procedures.
The Science of Mayonnaise: Before attempting to make homemade mayonnaise, it is important to understand just how mayonnaise works. Mayonnaise is an emulsion of oil in lemon juice that has been stabilized by the molecule lecithin found in the egg yolks.
The key to making mayonnaise is to avoid having the components of the emulsion separate back into their individual components. This is called “turned” or “broken” mayonnaise. No matter how long you mix the oil and lemon juice together, it will always separate into a gooey mess unless the egg yolk is added as a stabilizer.
Why To Make Your Own Mayonnaise: There are two (2) main reasons for making your own mayonnaise – freshness and flavor. Homemade mayonnaise is fast and easy to make in a blender or food processor. It takes less than 5 minutes to make.
Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe
2 egg yolks, room temperature*
1 whole egg, room temperature*
1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed, plus more if needed
1 teaspoon Dijon-style prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
Big pinch freshly-ground white pepper
Up to 2 cups vegetable oil or pure olive oil (all one or a mixture)**
* Since raw eggs are being use, only use the freshest eggs you can buy (the fresher, the better). As an egg ages, lecithin, a protein that acts as the central emulsifying agent, breaks down and the power of the egg yolk to stabilize the mayonnaise weakens. You may also use pasteurized eggs.
** For a basic mayonnaise, use an oil with a mild flavor that won’t overpower the other ingredients. If you plan to refrigerate your mayonnaise, then choose a refined oil such as pure olive oil or sunflower oil. An unrefined oil, such as extra virgin olive oil, will solidify when chilled and cause separation later as it returns to room temperature.
Put the egg yolks, egg, lemon juice, mustard, salt, and white pepper in the work bowl of the food processor; process for 10 seconds or more, until creamy.
With the food processor running continuously, pour in the oil very slowly in driblets at first, to start the emulsion process. NOTE: Add 10 to 15% of the oil at this time. The first addition should be small and gradual. Wait about 30 second between additions.
When the sauce has definitely thickened, you may add the oil in a thin stream. Do not stop the machine at this point, but cease pouring every few seconds to be sure the oil is being absorbed. NOTE: Add about 50% of the oil at this time.
Then continue until the remaining 1 1/2 cups of oil are incorporated. NOTE: You may not need to use all the remaining oil at this time.
Stop the machine and check the mayonnaise for taste and consistency. Adjust the seasonings and, if the mayonnaise is very thick, process in drops of lemon juice or warm water to thin. The mayonnaise may be used at this point, or you can process in some of the remaining oil for a thicker sauce.
Transfer the finished mayonnaise to a bowl. If not using right away, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The sauce will keep for a good week.
Makes approximately 2 to 2 1/4 cups.
Precautions for Preparing Mayonnaise:
IMPORTANT: All the ingredients must be at room temperature. If necessary, eggs may be immersed in warm water for 10 minutes to bring them up to temperature before breaking them into the blender jar.
Since raw eggs are being use, only use the freshest eggs you can buy (the fresher, the better). As an egg ages, lecithin, a protein that acts as the central emulsifying agent, breaks down and the power of the egg yolk to stabilize the mayonnaise weakens. You may also use pasteurized eggs.
Eggs keep the fat (oil) and the liquid (vinegar or lemon juice) of the mayonnaise evenly blended together. If egg yolks weren’t used to emulsify the mayonnaise, the heavier liquid would sink and the lighter fat would float just as they do in vinegar and oil dressing.
Never use aluminum bowls or saucepans to prepare mayonnaise, as they will turn the mayonnaise gray. Stainless steel, enameled, plastic (food processor) or glass may be used.
Add the oil very slowly, especially at the beginning.
Since homemade mayonnaise has fresh eggs in it, the mayonnaise should not be left at room temperature for more than a couple hours, as food poisoning is always a concern.