Thursday, 21 July 2011

Sticky Mirin Salmon


I think my least appealing character trait is that I am stingy. Any readers who know me personally, please do not take this opportunity to point out my other flaws in the comments. But yes, stingy - tight, cheap, skinflint and miserly. It’s deeply, deeply unattractive and I’m ashamed of it but it’s hard-wired in me and always has been. I’d blame it on genetics, but my sister is the exact opposite, and although I admire her ability to blithely spend more in a day than I do in a month, I know that the same behaviour from me would bring on cold sweats and panicky nightmares.


I should point out that my stinginess is strictly limited. I’m not stingy about the big things – I don’t regret a single penny of the money we spent on the wedding or the honeymoon, or for that matter the staggeringly vast pile of cash we’re hoping to spend on a house. Nor do I begrudge any money spent on other people. Rounds of drinks, Christmas presents, birthday dinners, surprise gifts – I love spending my hard-earned money on any and all of these. Nothing makes me happier than being generous, even lavish, to the people I love, and those moments of pure pleasure make the endless hours in the office worthwhile.


No, I’m stingy on a small-scale, personal level. I’m stingy about buying things for myself. For example, I love reading magazines, but I can never quite bring myself to buy them because it seems like a waste of money. Buying a daily coffee seems hugely extravagant. Treating myself to a pretty pair of earrings? Only if they’re on the sale rail, and I will still feel guilty. Don’t even get me started on the price of clothes. There’s a reason why almost all my wardrobe comes from H&M.


I do know how pathetic and ridiculous this is, and I’m trying to get better. But I find it so difficult to shift my default position from “save" to "spend”. Almost every decision I make on a day to day basis – which shampoo to buy, where to go for lunch, what to put on the Ocado order – includes cost as a factor. I wish it weren’t the case, but it’s true. I recently shared a cab with my sister as far as her train station. When I got out with her, planning to take the tube the rest of the way, she said “why don’t you just stay in the taxi? It’ll only be another tenner or so to get you home”. My brain’s response? DOES NOT COMPUTE. I would never, in a million years, have thought of taking a taxi home on my own, unless it was a) past tube time, b) I had a very heavy suitcase. I wish I could just swan around town in taxis – I love taking taxis! – but it never occurs to me to do it. I’m just too tight.


Anyway, salmon fillets are expensive so we don’t tend to have them that much. Even though we both love them. We could probably buy more if we got the crappily-farmed cruelty version but we’re all ethical consumers now so that’s off the menu. But these super-quality wild organic fillets were on offer in Waitrose and whatever the quality of your salmon, this is an absolutely delicious way to cook it.


It’s one of Nigella’s winners (not like the loopy Cottage Cheese pancakes) and just requires a few minutes’ marinating, a few minutes’ frying, then a whole meal of wonderment that you've created something so stickily, toothsomely, tangily delicious. It tastes so much more than it is, like something you'd get at a posh restaurant like Nobu or somewhere like that. Only so much cheaper! And with very little faff, honestly. The only downside is that you have to do the washing up. What do you mean, in that case I should just go to Nobu? I'm not made of money, you know. 




Sticky Mirin Salmon
From Nigella
Serves 2


- 30ml mirin
- 25g light brown sugar
- 30ml soy sauce
- 2 salmon fillets
- a tablespoon of rice vinegar (15 ml)
- a spring onion, shredded into long, thin strips as if you're having crispy duck pancakes


Mix the mirin, sugar and soy sauce in a shallow bowl, and marinate the fish for a few minutes on each side. To be exact, Nigella says 3 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes on the second, but I don't think the world will end if you're not so exact. Preheat a non-stick frying pan while your fish is marinating.


Add the fish to the hot dry pan and cook for around 4 minutes on the first side (Nigella says 2, but ours were quite thick), then flip it over, chuck in the rest of the marinade and give it another couple of minutes. Remove the fish to a plate, add the rice vinegar and stir it through, then pour the sauce over the fish and top with the shredded spring onion. While you eat, think how much money you're saving by not going to Nobu.

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