Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dining Decadence on a Dime

In looking through some of my older posts, I found this one.  Since it is about one of my family's favorite meals--one that everyone loves, miraculously--I thought I'd recycle the original post with some simplified  instructions.  Enjoy!

People don't think of seafood as a cheap meal, unless they are thinking fish sticks.  When you prepare your seafood at home, however, you can get far more bang for your buck than if you ordered it at a restaurant!  This particular menu can be prepared with frozen seafood with excellent results.  At my favorite local grocery store (Aldi), frozen shrimp and frozen salmon fillets periodically go on sale for $2-3/lb.  I can buy it, put it in my freezer, and pull it out later to use in this special meal.  
To make this recipe, you will need:
8 salmon fillets
6 oz. cooked, peeled, and deveined shrimp (variation: 3 oz. shrimp, 3 oz. crab--you can use canned!)
2 tablespoons mayonaise
2 teaspoons artisan/gourmet *mustard 
4-5 oz. brie cheese
1/2 - 3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1 bunch scallions
3 tablespoons butter, divided
salt and pepper (I prefer fresh ground sea salt and peppercorns)
dillweed (fresh or dry)
Hollandaise Sauce (recipe below)
A good knife
*I used some Walla Wall Sweet Onion Mustard my husband brought home from a business trip, 
but I'm sure Grey Poupon would work, too!

1.  If you are using frozen salmon and shrimp (like I did), make sure that yours are completely thawed.  You want to use fillets that are at least 1-1/2 inches thick.  

2.  Put the 6 oz. of shrimp and/or crab into your food processor or use your knife to cut it into fine pieces.  

3.  Once the shrimp finely chopped, throw it into a mixing bowl and add the mustard and mayo, salt and pepper to taste, and 1/2 teaspoon dillweed.  

4.  Cut the brie cheese into small pieces and add to the shrimp mixture.  If you don't use brie, you could try substituting another soft cheese.  Try cream cheese or swiss cheese and let me know how it works for you!

5.  Lightly sautee the scallions in 1 Tablespoon of the butter.  Once they have softened slightly, add the breadcrumbs to the frying pan and toss them around a little until they are just lightly toasted.  This will happen very quickly--don't walk away from those breadcrumbs or they will burn!

6.  Remove the breadcrumbs from the stove to cool for a minute while you cut the salmon fillets.  Use a good knife to slice the salmon on three sides, so that you can open it like a book.  I believe this is called butterflying by people who know how to cook, but since I really don't know how to cook, I won't call it that.  You can be preheating the oven to 375 degrees while you are working on this step.  

7.  Add half the breadcrumb/scallion mixture to the shrimp/brie mixture and mix it well.  If the stuffing seems too dry, feel free to add a little more mayo.

8.  Line a large baking dish with foil and spray it with non-stick cooking spray.  Open each fillet and place a generous scoop of stuffing inside.  Close them up and place the fillets in the  baking dish.  (It is okay if the stuffing looks like it is going to pop out of the fillets.)

9.  Top the fillets with the remaining breadcrumb/scallion mixture.  Take the remaining butter, cut it into small pieces, and put a small piece of butter onto each fillet.

10.  Place the stuffed salmon, uncovered, into a 375 degree oven.  Cook the salmon until it will flake with a fork, about 15-20 minutes.  (This is longer than you would normally cook salmon, because of the stuffing.)  Check the salmon at about 10 minutes, because you never ever want to overcook fish!
11.  Garnish each fillet with hollandaise sauce and a sprinkle of dillweed.

Hollandaise sauce is so yummy and I have found a no-fail method to make it.  You have to try this sauce on asparagus, sometime.  It is carnal food bliss.

To make hollandaise sauce, you will need:
1/2 cup butter
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
dash of white pepper
A blender

1.  Approximately 5 minutes before the salmon is finished, place the butter in a microwave-safe dish and melt it in the microwave.  

2.  Put egg yolks, water, lemon juice, and pepper in the blender.  Blend on high.

3.  While the blender is on, carefully pour in the melted butter.  Continue to blend for about a minute.  

That's it!  You have a perfect hollandaise sauce.  Drizzle it over your stuffed salmon and relish the savory tang it adds.  If you need to keep it warm, pour it into a small glass bowl, put some hot water into another, larger, glass bowl, and float the bowl of  hollandaise sauce in the hot water.  That worked for me. 
I like to serve green beans sauteed with roasted red peppers alongside this seafood dish.  

I have three picky eaters, one of whom claims she doesn't like shrimp and another who claims she doesn't like cheese.  The first time I served this, they both chowed it down and unabashedly asked for seconds.  It's delicious!

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