Sunday, November 22, 2015

Week 47 - Ginger

The theme for Week 47 was ginger. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with ginger. I don't mind it when it's minced or grated or in some other "smaller" form, but large pieces of ginger or ginger candy are usually too strong and overwhelming for me. I usually end up adapting recipes that call for sliced ginger, and do minced ginger instead. That's why I wasn't too worried about the ginger challenge. Whatever recipe I decided to try, I would make it work.

I chose to put together a couple of different recipes that each used ginger as a predominant flavor. The first was this ginger garlic baked salmon recipe that I found on Rasa Malaysia. I stuck fairly closely with the recipe, but made a few adaptations. The ingredients were:

- 2 pieces of salmon ($3)
- 1 piece of ginger, a few inches long, minced (about 1/4 cup) ($0.35)
- 5 garlic cloves, minced ($0.10)
- 1.5 tbsp low sodium soy sauce ($0.15)
- 0.5 tbsp oyster sauce ($0.20)
- 1 tbsp honey ($0.25)
- 0.5 tbsp sesame oil ($0.25)
- a few dashes of white pepper ($0.20)
- pinch of salt ($0.02)

The salmon portion cost approximately $4.50 by my estimation, although I'm not sure of the exact amount since some of this stuff we've had for a while and I don't remember how much they cost. But it's probably something around there, which isn't bad at all for a fish dish.

The process of making the baked salmon is super easy. First, you rub the salmon with ginger and garlic. Then mix all the other ingredients in a bowl and pour over the salmon. I let it marinate in the fridge for about an hour, and then baked it on a foil-lined baking sheet at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. I included all the sauce from the marinade, just spooning all the excess over the salmon before popping it in the oven. I don't know if it was the marinating or the extra sauce or what, but the salmon wasn't dry at all and came out perfectly cooked after 15 minutes.

The other portion of dinner (besides the brown rice) was supposed to be these roasted carrots with scallion-ginger glaze from Mark Bittman's site. We still had a giant bag of Costco carrots in the fridge, and I thought this would be perfect for the challenge. Unfortunately when I pulled the bag of carrots out of the fridge, some dark brown liquid started dripping from it. Despite checking the carrots periodically to make sure they were still firm, I guess they were older than I remembered, and the ends had started turning black and moldy. Gross. I knew I should have chopped up all the carrots earlier when I did the celery and stuck them in the freezer. So, what to do when you plan to make roasted carrots and have no carrots? Mixed vegetables from the freezer. The taste wasn't going to be remotely the same, but at least we could still use the scallion-ginger sauce. For our vegetable side, I used the following ingredients:

- a few cups of mixed vegetables ($1.50)
- 1 bunch of scallions, finely chopped ($0.75)
- 1 piece of ginger (the small one on the bottom of that bag), minced ($0.35)
- about 5 garlic cloves, minced ($0.10)
- salt ($0.05)
- a few tbsp of canola oil ($0.30)

The vegetables cost about $3. Again, that's my best guess, since I didn't measure out the amount of mixed vegetables. Together with the salmon and adding a dollar or so for the brown rice we ate it with, that's not a bad price for dinner for 2 at all.

I put the mixed vegetables (still frozen) in a pan with a little bit of oil and salt, covered it, and then let it cook, stirring every so often until the vegetables were cooked through. While that was going on, I made the sauce. There were essentially 2 steps - (1) prep and combine the garlic, ginger, and scallions in a bowl, and (2) heat the canola oil and then pour over the garlic, ginger, and scallions, and mix it all together into a sauce.

After the vegetables were done, I removed the cover, added some salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and then cooked it a couple more minutes. Then I turned off the heat and poured the scallion-ginger sauce over the whole thing, stirring it all together. For the amount of vegetables I made, maybe I should have heated another tablespoon of oil for the sauce, but it still worked out well with the couple of tablespoons I used.

This dinner was really good, and it was also super healthy. The flavors of the salmon marinade were great, and we wouldn't change a thing when we make it again. As for the vegetables, the sauce probably would have gone better with the roasted carrots, but it was still good in the mixed vegetables. Better than I thought it would turn out. I've learned two things from the carrot issue though. One, chop them up and freeze them within a couple of weeks (or don't buy them in bulk from Costco anymore even if you think you're going to make tons of soup over the following few weeks), and two, always keep the frozen mixed vegetables in the freezer in case of emergency. At least, despite the difficulties, dinner turned out to be delicious!

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