Poached salmon with peas and mushrooms ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

07 January 2013

Poached salmon with peas and mushrooms

poached salmon with peas and mushrooms

I sat on this for a few days because I wasn't sure how it would go over. I'm still not sure, but I think it's important enough that I'm just going to bring it up and see how you guys respond.

I'm pretty happy with how we've started off the year of food. I mean, we're still at the very end of vacation, and have eaten a bit of restaurant food already, but I'm okay with that. We don't do resolutions at our house. I'm not going to beat myself up for eating a dosa. Everything is fine. And when I actually started cooking myself new year's food, my brain and body wanted poached fish. So I made poached fish.

Man, could I be more defensive? Probably.

I tend to stay away from discussing this kind of thing because I find it horrifying that anyone should be smacked around by perceptions of female beauty. I myself have largely escaped this type of body issue. How did that happen? I think it was a convenient confluence: I met traditional beauty standards while not really caring what other people thought. But it's unhappily clear that I am an infrequent exception to the norm when I discover foodblog posts about following certain diets, or self-consciously targeting exercise to a particular body area, or overcoming eating disorders that should never have had to occur in the first place. January is a particularly bad time for this, with page upon page of new year's resolutions outlining how this year the author will Be Good and Eat Healthy, too often with a galloping subtext of self-hatred and dysmorphia. I especially don't like how I notice myself also edging into self-judgement after reading these things, even when I actually think what I'm eating is healthy and normal.

No one should have to deal with body hatred, especially in conjunction with food--something that should be joyful and amazing. Obviously a simple statement like that is not going to suddenly change things, though. The situation is far too problematic. So I don't quite know where to go, or if I'm even qualified to open a discussion, and I REALLY don't want to alienate anyone or exacerbate the problem in any way. But I also think the subject is too important to ignore.

I think the best thing for me to do is to acknowledge the situation here, but also to continue simply presenting cooking and eating food as an approachable, delicious, and normal experience. That's how I normally see food, and that's how I hope others can see it too. So that's what I'm going to do.

I made poached salmon and vegetables because I wanted poached salmon and vegetables. They were really good.

poached salmon with peas and mushrooms

Poached salmon with peas and mushrooms

filet of salmon
bay leaf
butter/olive oil
dry vermouth
salt & pepper
parsley & lemon to garnish

Fill a small saute pan with about an inch to an inch and a half of water--enough to cover your piece of salmon. Add a bay leaf and a generous sprinkle of salt, and bring the pan to a boil. Slide in your fish, reduce the heat to simmer, lid the pan, and poach for about five minutes, or until done to your taste. The timing will depend on the filet's thickness.

In the meantime, slice up a shallot and a big handful of mushrooms. In another saute pan, melt a chunk of butter or warm some oil. Add the shallot and saute for a minute or two, until softened, before adding the mushrooms. Season with salt and maybe a little paprika. Cook over fairly high heat, shaking or stirring frequently,

When your mushrooms have exuded all their liquid and begun to brown a bit, tip in a bunch of frozen peas. Add a splash of water and dry vermouth, stirring to deglaze. Now put the lid on the pan, turn the heat down to medium, and let the peas steam for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper to finish.

To serve, pour your peas and mushrooms onto a plate. Top with your finished salmon. Quickly deglaze the pea and mushroom pan with a pat of butter. Pour the melted butter over your fish and top with chopped parsley and a grind of salt and pepper. If you want a squeeze of lemon, now is the time.


Isn't it great?


Rebecca said...

Oh man, that is a good way to relate to food!

January is often a frustrating time for me to read food blogs on the internet because I have battled mightily with anorexia on and off for about 10 years. Currently the fight is on, so I'm expending a lot of mental energy trying to game as many calories out of each day as humanly possible and choosing meals based on whether they contain the most calorically dense things I can possibly put in my mouth, to compensate for my near-total lack of appetite. (Worst part: everything tastes like acetone all the time, not eating enough means not enough energy and no amount of sleep is enough so constantly exhausted, oh my god someone just feed me bonbons and slices of chilled salted butter already.) It's not triggering for me to read stuff extolling the virtues of low-fat low-cal because haha too late disordered eating behaviours already engaged, but it is grimly uninspiring.

Kat said...

I never set New Year's resolutions either. I think if a person wants to stop or start whatever, they should just do it, knowing that it's okay to slip up every now and then - who doesn't? Otherwise there is nothing left but guilt.

I absolutely love your reason for making this dish. This is what food blogging should be: unapologetic, honest, approachable, and (importantly) tasty.

Maria said...

Bravo! This point of view needs a prominent place in the food blog world.

Jes said...


Love the post. I'm with you--we should eat what our bodies need, no matter the month. And we need to learn to accept ourselves.

I, for one, ate frozen mini tacos for dinner last night. Definitely not diet food. Your fish looks like it would have been a lot more satisfying, love the mushrooms & peas beneath!

Michelle said...

You're so spot on. I totally did growing up, but am definitely way better than I have ever been. Confidence is huge. I cringe when I think back to the old me, and kind of do the same at thinking of having a daughter of my own someday. It's rough!

But I'm with you -- I love focusing on normal, accessible, REAL food. And an active lifestyle. Everything in moderation, and surround yourself with the right people. It's so easy and so hard all at the same time.

Bring on another year of really awesome food.

Caz said...

Great post Eileen! Your attitude to food is spot on and the poached salmon looks delicious. I never eat enough fish but this looks like a lovely, straight forward and healthy dish to try. :)

Catherine Weber said...

I find it amazing how so many women see food as the "enemy." We need to eat for survival!

As I was shopping for wedding dresses last weekend, my fiancée commented, "we used to make clothes to fit women's bodies. Now we make bodies to fit women's clothes."

There's something very, very wrong with that!

Shu Han said...

"No one should have to deal with body hatred, especially in conjunction with food--something that should be joyful and amazing." that was beautifully beautifully said. That's my attitude towards healthye ating. I think people make too much of a faff out of "healthy food" and no one can agree what it is exactly, so why not just put your heart and soul into eating food that you really love and enjoy using whole ingredients that you enjoyed picking out?

Best part of your post, that last word: Eat.


kristina said...

Mushrooms plus salmon sounds really good - I love both, I wonder why I've never tried combining them.

Also, I'm really pleased that I haven't seen too much about weird fad diets this year. Of course, it is only the eighth! If I do run into too much of it, it's nice to know I can read here and enjoy a weird-diet-free space.

Joanne said...

I LOVE your attitude towards food and wish that I could for once and for all achieve some sort of apathy (but not totally) about mine. I was anorexic for a long time and will always have a sort-of anorexic mindset that tries to creep in but that I've become very good at ignoring. So for me the problem is mostly guilt. And trying to ignore it.

Lately though I'm all about moderation and eating what I want when I'm really craving it, but trying to avoid eating just because I'm bored or not in a good mood. this salmon is totally feel-good food!

the vanilla bean blog said...

Such good words. It's taken me so long to unlearn unhealthy ways of looking at eating/body/etc, and they are still sort of always lurking, but I've really begun to enjoy food and eat healthy without trying to create a bikini body for myself.

Your salmon sounds delicious!

Eileen said...

What a great discussion! Thank you all for sharing your perspectives. I'm so glad to see such a positive response to such a fraught topic. I'm simultaneously interested and horrified to see that that so many of us are bringing up the same issues--guilt especially. No one should have to feel guilty for eating food.