Monday, January 11, 2010

Shrink-My-Ass-Month: Salmon with Ginger-Soy Butter

Hey, it can't be all olive oil, all the time. Sometimes you just need a little butter in your life. Well, at least I do.

Now let it be noted that I said a little. I feel the need to mention this because everyone's favorite artery-clogger, Paula Deen, featured a recipe on the Food Network during an episode of her show titled "The Lighter Side." The recipe, which I'm sure is delicious, called for 8 tablespoons of butter.

Interesting! I didn't know that cooking fish for 4 people in a stick of butter was an ass-reducing method! Even I, who suckity-suck at math can figure that that's 2 tablespoons of butter per person, adding an additional 200 calories per serving.

Now I don't know about y'all, but if I'm going to consume 200 extra calories, it's gonna be on a Mojito or something, not fish, for Heaven's sake.

Which brings me to another point. Americans are fat. We are fatter than ever. We are also busier than ever and work harder than ever. Which means that when hunger strikes, we often eat out. And when we eat out, we don't really know how our meal is prepared behind the closed doors of a restaurant kitchen.

Oh, sure, we think we do. We're not stupid. Any person worried about the size of her backside knows that she shouldn't order the Fettuccine Alfredo, the Chicken-Fried Steak or the gut bomb that is the Outback Blooming Onion.

A girl who worries about the size of her butt navigates a menu carefully, makes shrewd decisions. She orders the Chopped Salad, the Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry, the Asian Grilled Salmon with Rice.

Menu-Savvy Girl, I applaud you. You are diligent and you are wise. So...why is your ass still fat?

Your ass is still fat because even when you make "smart" entree choices, the chef behind the closed door fattens it up with plenty of butter or oil or cream because--NewsFlash! Butter and oil and cream make food taste delicious!

Case in Point: I was leafing through my husband's Men's Health magazine (which is a great magazine, by the way) and stumbled across an article about this very same issue. Health-conscious diner walks into a restaurant, scans the menu, makes health-conscious entree selection. Wrong-o.

Say, for instance, you walk into P.F. Changs China Bistro. You are informed enough to avoid calorie grenades like the fried Crab and Cream Cheese Wontons, the Dan-Dan Noodles or the General Tso's Chicken. You aren't stupid.

You choose a healthy menu option like Asian Grilled Salmon with Rice. You eat your meal, enjoy the time out, feel good about your healthy dinner. Which had, unbeknownst to you, 734 calories, 32 grams of fat and 1,306 mg of sodium.

Is your jaw on the floor? Good, because mine sure was. Because you know what? I've actually ordered and eaten that thing. That flubbery sound you're hearing? That's the junk in my trunk. It's growing.

My point, and it's a cruel one, is that eating out on a regular basis will make you fat, even when you're trying to make informed food choices. Truly, the only way you can control the fat and calorie content in your food is to make it yourself. Sorry. I know that message sucks really hard.

I guess the only good news is that eating at home will also save you money, so there's solace in that. I think we're all a little worried about money nowadays, right?

I not telling you to stop eating at restaurants. Even I am not that big of a bitch. Eating out is fun, and social, and part of a balanced life. I definitely eat out, and I'm concerned about my health and the size of my hiney.

I'm just making the leeeetle suggestion that you eat out less. As in, less than one meal out of three, which is what the average American does. That's kind of a scary statistic there.

And instead of eating that P.F. Chang's ass-busting salmon, I'm making this.

Salmon with Ginger Soy Butter
serves 4
from Men's Health Magazine

4 salmon fillets, 4 to 6 ounces each
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for an hour or two
1/2 tablespoon minced chives
1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Juice of one lemon
1/2 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

Combine everything except the salmon in a bowl and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the ingredients are incorporated.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil or canola oil in a large stainless-steel saute pan over medium-high heat.* Season the salmon with salt and pepper; when the oil is lightly smoking, add the fish, flesh side down, to the pan. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until the skin is lightly charred and crisp.** Flip the fish and cook for 2-3 minutes more, until the flesh flakes with gentle pressure from your finger but is still slightly translucent in the middle. (Salmon is best served medium, but if you want yours completely cooked, saute for another 2 to 3 minutes.)

Serve the salmon with a generous spoonful of the flavored butter, which should begin to melt on contact.***

per serving: 390 calories (salmon only, cooked the Men's Health way; my way is more like 337).
cost per serving: $2.46

* I am lucky enough to own a Calphalon ridged grill pan. It's awesome. It's extremely efficient and non-stick, so I got away with brushing the salmon fillets with a mere 1/2 tablespoon of oil and then plopping them onto my grill pan. It came out perfect, did not stick and I saved 150 calories in the overall dish. If you don't have this pan, you should get one. Only caveat: do not put your expensive Calphalon pan in the dishwasher. Hand-wash this baby. The dishwasher will take away all of it's magical non-stick capabilities. I learned this the hard way.

** If you prefer, you can use skinless salmon fillets

*** I decided to melt the butter and combine it with the rest of the sauce ingredients, because I wanted to be able to drizzle a little of it over the side dishes of rice and steamed snap peas. It tasted terrific this way!


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  1. TKW Looks Beautiful! I just picked up some Salmon this weekend I think you just picked tonights dinner for me.

  2. Mmm, this looks great! I have some frozen salmon fillets that would work perfectly here. Unfortunately I can't blame eating out for size of my ass...with limited restaurant choices I'm lucky to not cook at home once every two weeks! I agree though the hidden calories and sodium will really kill you if you eat out often.

  3. How'd you know that I just bought a ginormous bag of salmon at Costco and needed some inspiration? I am working this into next week's rotation.

  4. Oh, I have to completely back you up on the magic of the Calphalon grill pan. I have the long one with handles and it instantly became my BFF. Nothing sticks to that baby...nothing.

  5. I love how concise and straight to the point you are. This recipe looks totally ass shrinking. You won the Best of NY giveaway. Please e-mail me your address.

  6. You do really have to be careful when you eat out...sometimes the salad is the worst thing on the menu!! Do you think this would work with tilapia or some other kind of fish? My peeps here don't like salmon....I love it...

  7. Don't worry about the butter. I consume a bar of butter a day...

  8. My fiance and I just had this conversation last night. We are making a concerted effort to eat out less. It is easy for us to get wrapped up in busyness (especially with wedding planning looming over our heads)and as a result we eat out more often than not. I applaud and support the EAT AT HOME trend that needs to start!! PS Salmon looks yummy. I am making a maple pinapple salmon dish tonight:)

  9. I want one of those grill pans! Ehemm - I am not a PF Changs fan. We went there for lunch one day and I thought, "I'll just get the lettuce cups." Do you know those lettuce cups are filthy fatty? WTF.

  10. I had salmon the other night (big part of the South Beach Diet I am on, getting rid of MY fat hiney). I had seen Giada cook halibut the day before...she marinated it in balsamic vinegar, a little olive oil, a little honey (I used a teeny amount) and it was delicous.

    When I have company, we eat out a lot. But mostly, I eat in...and frankly, it's the only way to get started on any kind of weight loss program. I am way older than you and my metabolism sucks, even though I work out 6 days a week. Constant battle to stay ahead, always has been.

  11. I hear what you are saying girlie! It is a shame about restaurants in this way. Food can still be delicious without smoothering it in butter... These days I eat out a lot as I'm a bit of a social butterfly in London and yeah, I've noticed the developing waist. When I leave in 7 weeks I'm hoping I'll drop a few pounds with all the homecooked meals...I can only hope! xxx

  12. Ohhhh. Thanks! Salmon is part of our usual rotation, but the old "brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper" gig gets tired after a while. This will be a nice change of pace.

    As for restaurant pitfalls, I'm a big fan of checking out the nutritional info online before darkening the door of any national chain.

  13. This sounds really yummy and I LOVE salmon.

  14. Don't worry, TKW, I make sure to order the most unhealthy dish on the menu. I excuse my behavior by reasoning that I only eat out once week.

    Heck, if I die of clogged arteries at least I will die happy.

  15. Wow, this is a beautiful dish, TKW! So, is the ass shrinking food working?

  16. Why bother to make healthful choices when you eat out? That's always been my motto. OF COURSE they sneak in butter and you come back for another unhealthy healthy meal. Thank God we're not morons!

  17. I agree with unconfidential cook--I'd rather get something (reasonably sized, of course) that's likely bad for me when I go out to eat and keep it to an occasional treat rather than go out every day. That one-in-three stat seems crazy, but think about how many people where you work go out for lunch everyday, and that's where it comes from.

  18. Sometimes nothing will due except that little pat of butter. Okay that said and done this looks fantastic! I love your photo! We were going to have salmaon tonight too. I would love to change it up. My daughter loves it with a little mojo maradade drizzled on to and baked for 20 min....easy, peasy! I'd love to try something new, maybe I could get away with it (I've been doing a lot of Asian flavors lately)!

  19. Huge fan of salmon dishes. Absolutely not as expensive as people think, to cook at home, delish, and high on the healthy score.

    (My kids love when I make salmon.)

    Going to try these seasonings, TKW! Thanks!

  20. "I didn't know that cooking fish for 4 people in a stick of butter was an ass-reducing method!" Tee hee!

    Yeah, by "Lighter Side," it meant the dish weighed less. You know, without the oil. Not that it would make us lighter. ;)

  21. Oh, this one looks good. And easy! And I lurve me some ginger.

  22. Ok, point made about eating out... growl... It is ridiculous, itsn't it? Paul Deen, I've never made any of her recipes. I'm just not that big of a butter fan. She seems to use it excessively even if you weren't counting calories.
    I have two of your ass buster recipes lined up to make tonight and tomorrow. I'll let you know how they went over with the little ones here. I have to try this on some other kind of fish. I'm not a salmon lover. Don't preach about how healthy it is. I just can't do it.

  23. Salmon Loathers: This would work really well with another firm-fleshed fish--I recommend halibut, mahi-mahi, red snapper.

    And elizabeth and unconfidential--I do agree with you! If you eat out only once a week or occasionally, you deserve to get (and enjoy) what you want. That's what I do, too.

  24. And Laura--you are feeding SMAM recipes to your kids? Wow! My kids aren't eating any of this stuff, save the tortellini soup. It's hummus and PBJ month for them!

  25. Love, love, love salmon. Love, love, love Men's Health recipes. And, just to be redundant, love, love, love Calphalon. I am going to put the grill pan on my list as I have only one piece - a Christmas gift - and I love it!

  26. Mmmm butter....I'm a big fan of butter...but my thighs aren't. Ugh.

    That dish you made looks really good!

  27. Nice one TKW. It's like people having banana bread for a 'healthy option', you might as well eat a wedge of chocolate cake, same thing!

  28. Great post! Last year, I lost a bunch of weight (it found me again). So, I visited the PF Changs website to look up the nutritional value. I was shocked at the Mongolian Beef! I wanted to cry. So, I ordered the least fattening dish and it was bland, I tell you!
    Gotchya on the eating out all the time. That's why I taught myself to cook flavorful food at home. 13 years as a single mom, I did it to survive, financially. Eventually, I really learned how really cook. Go figure. I also noticed that my taste buds changed. I don't like fast food at all, anymore! I'm going easier on the heavy cream. But, I can't give it up. We love end of my soap box. This recipe. Rocks. It's mine, now!

  29. This looks delicious! I love salmon but have not been cooking it lately because of the kids and because since I just moved here from Cali I am afraid I will be disappointed with the fish. What kind of Salmon did you use? I think I would like to try this out on the gang.

  30. I'm not a fan of salmon, but that looks and sounds divine. Maybe I'll give salmon another try...

    One in three meals is eaten out on average? How can anyone afford that? Good grief!

  31. I suspect one in three meals is from the dollar menu from McD. Calphalon is FANTASTIC. I want to coat myself in calphalon for when the next shitty comment or grant rejection flies my way. No stick.

  32. jc: you rock my world. Should we all be coated in Teflon.

  33. must read Mens Health for the ARTICLES! sure you do!!! lol lol

  34. BloginSong: I got my salmon from Whole Paycheck, but honest, if you use frozen sockeye salmon (thawed per directions) it will turn out--frozen fish, with bold seasonings like this, will be perfectly fine.

    Leslie, you crackwhore. I do read the articles. Just like I read Playboy for the short fiction. Dennis Lehane is featured this month! But I read the fiction and then hide the magazine, because if hubs sees it, I'll never be rid of him.

  35. you make some great points about restaurant dining. i remember when i worked at chili's ages ago, people would order a salad with lo-fat dressing on the side, a diet coke, and an awesome blossom for their meal. did they think that because they were getting an appetizer for their lunch that it was going to be light? dunno... anyhow - keep the great posts coming. they are fun to read and i like your recipes!

  36. How is it possible that salmon dish has that much in it? *gasp* The dish you presented here: lovely. Just lovely.

  37. That looks awesome! And I'm telling my mom about it because she just bought salmon today. (Sacrificing because she read how important eating fish was for young boys.)
    P.S. My mom hates fish. Yeah, I don't get it either.