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@popchips crusted fish tacos with creamy avocado slaw and chipotle lime sour cream

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Note: you can vote for this recipe now in the popchip and Kitchensurfing competition!

Working from home can be a major drag. If I stay home for too long, I go crazy. That’s why I cowork from Workbar Cambridge. One of the many benefits is being able to crash some of the fun events that take place after hours. I happened to be around for the Blog and Tweet Boston cooking competition, featuring three local chefs from Kitchensurfing. The challenge was to create tasty, unique recipes using popchips.

At the end of the night, Blog and Tweet Boston announced they were running a contest for food bloggers to create our own popchip-inspired dishes. It was then that I realized that hey, I may have just been an interloper at this event, but I actually have a food blog!

That same night, I went home and made some homemade tortillas out of popchips, using and halving this recipe as a base. I substituted the full cup of flour for two 40z bags of popchips, 1/2 cup flour, and 2 tbsp semolina flour to bring in some elasticity. Since I didn’t have milk, I just went for warm water. The semolina ended up making it a little too elastic, so I dropped it altogether when I made my final recipe.

My first attempt at making popchop tortillas

My first attempt at making popchop tortillas

Bolstered by my confidence in my popchip tortillas, I decided that I’d enter the contest and make fish tacos. Who doesn’t like fish tacos? They’re great breaded, and as the night’s earlier competition had shown me, popchips make for an excellent crust. This weekend I finally sat down and put together my meal.

Early in the afternoon, I started my slaw. I wanted to give it a couple hours to soak, especially since I was planning on using red onion, which needed to mellow a bit so it didn’t overpower the rest of the ingredients.

My slaw ingredients, ready to go. Embarrassing note: see that lemon? I had already disassembled my setup and started chopping when I realized that I had grabbed a lemon, instead of the lime I intended to use. Whoops.

My slaw ingredients, ready to go. Embarrassing note: see that lemon? I had already disassembled my setup and started chopping when I realized that I had grabbed a lemon, instead of the lime I intended to use. Whoops.

I chopped up all of my dry ingredients and threw them together into a bowl before making my dressing. I normally just do a fat (mayo or olive oil) plus an acid (usually lemon or lime juice), but today I wanted to bring in a bit of creaminess and tang without mayo. What better fat than avocado? I blended it together with some lime juice and a dash of cumin using my immersion blender, then whipped in some additional olive oil by hand to thin down the dressing. Then everything was thrown and tossed together into a delightful, creamy green mess. I seasoned with some salt and pepper before sealing it up and throwing it into my fridge for a couple hours to soak.

I gave myself a bit of a break before starting on my tortillas. Using my modified recipe, I combined my dry ingredients in another medium bowl, and then started mashing in the solid coconut oil. (note: you could probably just use olive oil, but I had coconut on-hand.) Once I added in my warm water and started kneading, it got pretty doughy pretty fast. Rolling it out was a bit of a pain — it seemed harder than the last time I had made the tortillas. I think it may have been because I used more pop chips (and didn’t get them ground down enough) and less flour. I also decided to use my pizza stone this time instead of frying them in oil.

These tortillas ended up very different from the first set I made the night of the party, and maybe not for the best. When I went to use them later, they were pretty crispy — I had to wrap them in moist paper towels and microwave for 30 seconds to get them pliable again. As such, I’ve swapped out my recipe below to be the original recipe I tried out instead of the modified version.

Once my tortillas were finished, I put them aside and started prepping my fish, cutting up into bite-sized pieces. I don’t have a lot of shallow containers, so my breading station was a little wonky, but I managed to set up a container of seasoned flour, a container of beaten eggs, and finally, my ground up popchips. From there I just dipped in each container and then baked until crispy. You could also fry them in oil, but I decided to continue the healthy trend.

Last of all was the sour cream, which was super simple. Just throw everything into a small bowl, stir together, and drizzle atop your completed tacos along with some chopped up cilantro.

The result? Delicious. The tortillas were definitely the black sheep of the meal, but even those were tasty (just a little crispy, instead of flexible). The fish was nice and crispy on the outside, but still moist and flakey on the inside. The sour cream had just enough heat and tang to really liven up the fish. Best of all was the slaw, which is probably some of the best I’ve ever made. I’d definitely make this meal again. Just maybe next time I’ll use some store-bought tortillas.

tacos-finished

Fish tacos with avocado slaw & chipotle lime sour cream

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Time: approx. 2 hours
  • Difficulty: hard
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Ingredients

Creamy avocado slaw

  • 1/4 medium cabbage
  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 Avocado
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Cumin

Popchip tortillas (makes 4)

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (solid)
  • 2 bags of pop chips, finely ground (a little under 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 2 tbsp semolina flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp Salt

Popchip crusted baked fish

  • 1/2lb Tilapia, or other white fish
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 bags popchips, roughly ground
  • Cumin
  • Chipotle
  • Paprika
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Chipotle lime sour cream

  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • Juice of 1/4 lime
  • 1 tsp chipotle

Directions

Creamy avocado slaw

  1. Chop up your cabbage and kale into small strips and throw together into a medium bowl. Add in some roughly chopped cilantro and red onion, finely diced.
  2. Using a full-sized or immersion blender, whip up your avocado, cumin and lime juice until smooth. Stir in the olive oil by hand with a spoon until fully blended.
  3. Combine your dressing with your cabbage, kale, cilantro, and red onion until the dressing is evenly distributed through the vegetables. Salt and pepper to taste, cover, and throw in your fridge until ready to use.

Popchip tortillas

  1. In a food processor, grind your popchips as finely as you can. If you don’t have a processor you can grind by hand, but it’ll take a little while longer.
  2. Combine the ground popchips with your flours and salt in a medium sized bowl and swirl together.
  3. Spoon out your solid coconut oil into the flour mixture and start kneading everything together with your hands. It should pretty quickly start to form a solid ball.
  4. Slowly pour your warm water into the mixture, kneading until the dough is fully formed. Keep kneading for another minute or so.
  5. Cover your dough and let sit for about 15-20 minutes. About halfway in to your resting period, start preheating your pizza stone in the oven at 500*.
  6. After your resting time is up, separate your dough out into four evenly-sized balls.
  7. Apply flour liberally to your rolling surface and rolling pin. Roll out each tortilla as thinly as you can, ideally around 7-9 inches. The thinner the better. (Mine ended up being a little too thick.)
  8. Place your tortillas, two at a time, on your preheated pizza stone and cook for 3-5 minutes per side. My oven wasn’t fully heated for my first batch of two, so they needed five minutes. My second batch only needed three minutes per side. Keep a close eye on them to make sure they don’t burn.
  9. Set aside until you’re ready to assemble your tacos.

Popchip crusted baked fish

  1. Chop up your fish into bite-sized (approx. 1″) chunks and season liberally with salt and pepper.
  2. Take out three shallow dishes and set up your breading station. In the first dish, combine your flour with a couple dashes of cumin, chipotle, paprika, salt, and pepper. Beat two eggs into the second dish. In the last dish, combine the rest of your ground popchips with the same seasonings you put into your flour.
  3. Cover a baking sheet with tinfoil and coat lightly with oil to prevent the fish from sticking. Preheat your oven to 425*.
  4. Dip your pieces of fish first in the flour, then the egg, then your popchip coating and place on your baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, flipping your fish about halfway through.

Chipotle lime sour cream

  1. Stir together all three ingredients in a small bowl.

Lastly, assemble your tacos. Warm up your tortillas in a hot pan for about 30 seconds each side to get them flexible. Top with slaw, a couple pieces of fish, you mixed sour cream, and some roughly chopped cilantro. Throw a lime wedge on the side, and enjoy!

If you liked this recipe, please take a moment to vote for it now in the popchip and Kitchensurfing competition!

 

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Breakfast Quiche

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Eggs are, by far, one of my favorite food items. You can do anything with eggs — you can eat them fried, scrambled, poached, hard boiled, soft boiled… the possibilities are only limited to your own imagination. In particular, I love quiche. It’s like a blank canvas. Like pizza, you can throw pretty much anything into a quiche.

I was feeling a hankering for breakfast tonight, and noticed I still had a frozen pie crust and some breakfast sausage kicking around in my freezer. It seemed like the perfect time for quiche. Having recently come back from a trip to Texas, I wanted to mimic some of the delicious breakfast burritos I experienced, so I adding in red onion and potatoes.

Breakfast Quiche

  • Servings: 4 (1 Quiche)
  • Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 pie crust (I used a frozen spelt pie crust from Whole Foods)
  • 2 breakfast sausage patties
  • 5 small yukon gold potatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk (I didn’t have cow’s milk, so I used almond milk instead)
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

breakfast-quiche-veggies

Directions

  • First, prep your vegetables. Dice up your red onions, then garlic. Peel your potatoes, then grate them into small bits.
  • Crumble apart your breakfast sausage patties and brown in a pan. Once they look nice and cooked through, drain out the excess grease and set aside.
  • In the same pan, add your oil, and then sauté your red onions on medium heat until they start to wilt, about 2-3 minutes. Add your grated potatoes to your pan and cook until crispy, about 7-8 minutes. Finally, toss in your garlic, 1 tsp of paprika, and salt and pepper, and cook for another minute.
  • Put your meat, onion and potato mixture aside and let it cool for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 350*, and then whisk together your eggs in a small bowl with milk, flour, baking powder, and your seasonings.
  • Mix together your meat and egg mixture, then pour into your pie crust. Toss in the oven for 45-50 minutes. When it’s done, let it sit for a couple minutes before cutting in. Enjoy!

I wish I had remembered to take a picture before cutting it up and serving it out, but we were really hungry and dove straight in. In the end I wish I’d put in some cheddar cheese and some extra salt, but it was still pretty tasty, especially with the hot sauce I slathered on top. It wasn’t the same thing as a Texas style breakfast burrito, but it was good!

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Simple Steak Marinade

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I put together this simple little marinade the other day when making some steak to serve alongside some rice and tangy slaw. It’s a little sour, a little spicy, and works great when you’re planning on slicing your steak nice and thin.

Simple Steak Marinade

  • Servings: 1lb of steak
  • Time: 5 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3tbsp oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Zest of 1/2 lime
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Dash of paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Zest about half of your lime in a small mixing bowl
  • Once you have your lime zested, go ahead and juice it into the bowl
  • Mix lime juice with oil, cayenne pepper, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper
  • Toss into a plastic bag with your steak of choice and let marinade for 1-4 hours

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Sausage, onion, and spinach pizza

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Gimme pizza! P-I-Z-Z-A!

When Kelly and I cook pizza, we tend to go for fun and unusual (like this one), but today we decided to go traditional and just do sausage, onion, and spinach with Italian cheeses and a red sauce.

Sweet italian sausage, onion, and spinach pizza

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Time: 45-60 minutes
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

Sauce (optional)

I modified this recipe to fit my needs (and the ingredients I had available).

  • 1 can diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tbs of honey (brown sugar should work, too)
  • 2 tbs parmesan
  • 1 tbs fish sauce (optional)
  • Some lemon zest (optional)
  • 2 tbs Italian seasonings (I made my own blend using sage, thyme, oregano, marjoram, basil, and chili pepper flakes)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Pizza

  • 1 bag of pizza dough
  • Enough of your sauce to spread over. Feel free to use any sauce, not just the recipe I provided. If you did use my recipe, you’re going to have a fair amount left over. Bag it up and freeze for later!
  • 1/2 lb Italian sausage (I chose sweet, but you could also do spicy)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
  • A couple handfuls of spinach
  • 1/2 bag of mozzarella or other Italian cheese (I used this)
  • Some extra parmesan to sprinkle on top

Directions

  • Throw together all of your sauce ingredients into a pot and heat for a while, until the ingredients start to break down. I heated mine on high until it started to bubble, then simmered it for about 10-15 more minutes while I prepped the rest of my ingredients. I used an immersion blender to get the sauce nice and smooth once it was done cooking, but if you like it chunky, go ahead and use as-is.
  • Dice your onions, heat some oil (or butter, I’m not judging) in a pan and cook over medium-high heat until translucent (5-6 minutes?), then toss in your chopped garlic and cook for an additional minute. Once done, transfer to a medium sized container.
  • Brown your sausage in your onion pan (another 5-6 minutes? You don’t want to see pink), drain out the excess oil, and then add to your onion and garlic mix. Stir it up, baby!
  • Roll out your dough over a well floured surface. Tonight we decided to do two personal pizzas, but you could also do a full-sized pizza. We tend to roll out our dough to about 1/4th in., either way. We transferred the dough to a pizza peel for assembly. If you don’t have a pizza peel or stone, throw onto a thin baking sheet.
  • Start assembling your pizza. If you’re using a pizza stone, throw it in your oven and start preheating to 450*. (If you aren’t, pre-heat anyway.) Spread your sauce onto your dough. If you’re using a stone, this is where you want to speed things up a little, just to make sure your pizza is easy to move from the peel. We’ve found that the longer your sauce gets to sit on your dough, the harder it is to move onto the stone.
  • Once your sauce is down, put on a healthy layer of cheese. Give yourself maybe 1/2 inch of breathing room along the edges of your dough.
  • Next, throw on a handful of spinach. Don’t be afraid to pack it on, since it’ll cook way down.
  • After that, throw on your onion, garlic and sausage mixture. Try to put it on evenly, and again, leave yourself a little room around the edges.
  • If you have some extra parmesan on hand, sprinkle some on the top at the end. Finish with some salt and freshly cracked black pepper, if that’s how you roll.
  • If you’re using a peel/stone, carefully transfer your pizza over to your stone. Cook until your crust is golden brown and your cheese is nice and melted, approximately 13-15 minutes. Just keep an eye on it, since it tends to go from perfect to overcooked in about a minute.
  • Slice it up and enjoy. Cowabunga!

Sliced and ready for eating

Sliced and ready for eating

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Spice it up!

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I love spices. Combing through my spice rack to create new flavor combinations for my meals is always a fun and interesting challenge. Sometimes, though, it’s nice to have a pre-made blend to jazz up what I’m cooking. Picking a particular spice blend for the night will often help shape my entire meal.

A couple years ago, I was at an event when I stumbled on a booth covered with different kinds of spice blends. The shop, Auntie Arwen’s Spices, had blends for almost anything you could imagine. (Some of the blend titles are admittedly problematic.) I had fun digging through different crates of spices, looking for some that would work well with the kinds of food I like to cook.

I’ve seen Auntie Arwen a couple times since then, and I always try to pick up a jar or two of her great blends. This past weekend, I ran into her booth at an event I was attending and decided to splurge. I picked up five new bottles.

When I started searching through the numerous crates, I decided that I wanted to pick up something for fish, something for pork, something for winter vegetables, and something that generally sounded interesting. Both the Pigs in Paradise Citrus-Ginger Rub and Malay Pirate Nonya Seafood Blend smelled super aggressive and I was instantly intrigued. Both smell spicy and tangy, and I can’t wait to try them out.

I ended up asking for a recommendation for a spice blend to use on vegetables I get a lot in the winter (squash, sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips, etc.), and was given the Mahout’s Joy East Indian Pilau Blend. I think the blend of cardamom, saffron, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and coriander will go terrific with roasted, puréed and mashed winter veggies.

Lastly, I picked up the Ultimate Garlic Insanity blend, which work with pretty much everything, and the “Around the Corner” Shawarma Spices, a pretty complex but harmonious blend of fifteen different spices.

All-in-all, I think I scooped up a great batch this weekend. I can’t wait to start cooking!

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Livin’ in the CSA

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Since gaining the autonomy of post-college adulthood, I’ve tried to make very conscious decisions about what kind of food I put into my body, and where that food comes from. I grew up eating very poorly — lots of frozen meals, hamburger helper, cheap cuts of meat slathered in sugary marinades — and when I found myself with the opportunity to control my dietary habits, I leapt towards local, fresh, and organic.

Starting post-college adulthood in Western Massachusetts was a blessing for someone interested in these three food traits. Western Massachusetts is dotted with small farms, making it easy to find local produce at farmers’ markets and the numerous “health food” stores.

It wasn’t long before I learned about CSAs (community supported agriculture, where you essentially buy a share from a farm for a season). My partner and I bought a winter share from a local farm, which kept our pantry stocked with vegetables all winter. We sorely missed having those vegetables every month after our share ended, but we weren’t able to find a convenient spring/summer vegetable CSA. Competition for CSAs is particularly stiff in Western Mass.

What we did find, however, was a local farm, Chestnut Farms, which provided a meat CSA. Each month, we could pick up a 10lb share of local, sustainably raised livestock: beef, lamb, chicken, and pork.

When we moved to Boston, we were delighted to discover that we would be able to continue our meat CSA, which has pickups all over Massachusetts. Every week, our farmers load up their refridgerated truck with coolers of meat and trek across the state to different towns. You bring your cooler from the previous month and swap it out for a new cooler, full of goodies.

It’s a real joy meeting with Kim and her family every month. I appreciate having a real, human connection when I buy food. There’s something much more intimate and personal about having a CSA that you don’t get from going to a grocery store. Plus, you get cute pictures in your email when a new calf is born:

calf

Every month is also an exciting surprise. You never know what you’re going to get! We always get ground beef, and we always get bone-in chicken breasts, but aside from that, every month is just a little bit different. Some months we’ll get different kinds of sausage (sweet italian, spicy italian, chorizo, or breakfast), or different cuts of steak. In the winter, we get more lamb. I’m always excited when we get a packet of bacon. They’ll usually have eggs for sale when we pick up our cooler, alongside various organ meats, liverwurst, and bacon ends.

There’s always this great feeling of anticipation when we pick up our cooler, get it home, and crack it open:

2014-01-05 15.56.57

This month was especially exciting. In addition to the eggs and bacon ends we picked up, we received two huge pork chops, a packet of chicken wings, a whole leg of lamb, some ground lamb, top round steak, and our customary 2lbs of ground beef and chicken breast on the bone.

2014-01-05 15.58.31

In addition to our meat share, we started ordering from Boston Organics when we moved out east. Every two weeks, they deliver us a big green box full of produce. It’s super convenient — they drop it off right outside our door! There are a bunch of different boxes to choose from, but we’ve been sticking with the “local” box.

2014-01-09 00.13.52

Like our meat CSA, every month is a little different (though easy to predict, based on the season). We’ve been getting stocked full of winter veggies in the past couple weeks. Most of the veggies come from within MA, but we can get some from as far as Quebec.

I’m incredibly thankful that I live in an area where local food is valued so highly, and that I have the extra money necessary to be able to afford such a lifestyle. It’s an incredible privilege.

As the local movement grows, I hope that it becomes easier and more affordable for people across the country to have access to fresh, healthy food. Many farmers’ markets, especially in Massachusetts, now accept SNAP benefits. In Massachusetts, some markets even double your SNAP benefits so you can spend even more on food.

How about you guys? Do you buy local food?

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Lime and tequila marinated salmon with tangy slaw and steamed rice

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This is my first recipe! Please be gentle. 🙂

Tonight was my turn to cook. I knew I wanted to made some slaw with dinner — I’ve had some cabbage and carrots kicking around in my fridge for a while — and I knew I wanted to include lime, because I love slaw with some tang.

Looking through my freezer, I found some salmon we had picked up the other day, and thought it would go really well with the slaw I had in mind.

Then, I thought to myself: what goes better with lime than tequila? Luckily, I also had some of that hanging out in my freezer, and thus tonight’s recipe was born.

Salmon with tangy slaw and rice

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 1 hour, ish
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

Lime and Tequila Marinated Salmon

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil (I always just eyeball it)
  • Juice of 1/4th lime
  • A splash of tequila
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Any additional seasonings, to taste. I threw a couple dashes of paprika and cumin.

Tangy slaw

  • 1/4th head of cabbage
  • 1-2 carrots (medium)
  • A tiny bit of red onion (optional — I used maybe 1/8th of a medium onion)
  • Juice of 1/2 lime (large)
  • A couple spoonfuls of mayo
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A dash of sweetener. I chose honey.

Rice

  • 1 cup of rice (I chose jasmine, since I always have some on hand)
  • Whatever ratio of water goes with your choice of rice (in this case, 2 cups of water to 1 cup of jasmine rice)
  • Salt to taste

Directions

  • Start prepping your slaw first so it can sit in the fridge for an hour or more. Chop up your cabbage into bite-sized strips and toss into a medium sized bowl.
  • Next, peel your carrots, and then continue peeling it into thin strips. Once you get down to the core of the carrot, try to chop it up finely. Then, cut your strips into halves or thirds so they’re a little more bite-sized, and throw them in the bowl with the cabbage.
  • If you happen to have some red onion on-hand, feel free to cut a few thing slices, dice those up, and add them to your bowl as well.
  • Next, add a couple scoops of mayo and the lime juice, along with your salt and pepper, and mix everything together. Taste to check balance and add any additional mayo, lime juice, salt, pepper, and depending on how sour it tastes, add a tiny bit of honey. Once you’ve got it to your preferred balance, cover your bowl and put it in your fridge to chill.Tangy slaw
  • Next, prepare your marinade. Mix the oil, lime juice, tequila, salt, pepper, and any additional seasonings, then toss in a freezer bag with your salmon fillets and refrigerate.
  • Let your salmon and slaw sit for 30-40 minutes, then start cooking your rice. I have a rice cooker (it’s easily my favorite kitchen appliance), so I just dumped the rice and water into my cooker with some salt.
  • Once your rice is close to being finished, heat up your pan on medium-high heat. Give it a minute to warm up, then add some oil to your pan, swirl it around to coat evenly, and then drop in your salmon. Cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side until the salmon is fully opaque. I’m not the best at cooking fish, so I ended up overcooking mine a bit.
  • Plate up, and serve!