click photo for recipe

Salmon, rice and beans

Submitted to MasterChef by sayattheexplorer

Balsamic glazed salmon bites, salmon chicharron, seared salmon loin, mint basil rice, cilantro bud beans, lime mint yogurt, basil and cilantro flowers

The mystery box arrived when I was running from the test kitchen to class. Let’s at least get the wheels turning, I thought. Constrains are the greatest fuel for creativity — this is why I always get excited about mystery boxes. 

I saw the salmon cuts, and I concluded immediately ”well, the belly is on, I’ll probably want more even cooking than that will allow but it’s a beautiful piece of fish, I don’t want to use it all up in a meat ball.” My box had rice, canned beans, yogurt, mint, basil, salmon, balsamic vinegar. I was thrilled. 

I wanted to get more flavor into the rice and beans but keep them separate; use the yogurt as a sauce and a bright element and the balsamic vinegar as a glaze. 

This season since the advent of spring, I made a conscious effort to taste herbs at every stage of their development . Magic happens when cilantro goes to seed for instance. You can add it to hot preparations but still retain that bright cilantro flavor. So, that’s what I did with the beans to bring the season onto the plate. I also garnished with basil, cilantro and borage flowers. 

Here is the recipe for the beans — click here for the rest of the recipes and more photos. 

Ingredients

15 oz can of beans, washed, drained

1 slice of bacon, minced

1 jalapeno, deseeded, pithed, and minced

2 oz onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

½ red bell pepper, medium dice

2 T cilantro buds

1/4 C vegetable stock (optional)

salt to taste

  1. Render the bacon until the minced bacon bits are golden brown and delicious on medium to high heat, stirring as necessary. Discard half the rendered fat if desired. 
  2. Lower the heat to medium. Add the minced onions and sweat until translucent. Add the garlic, the jalapeno, and the red bell peppers to the mix. Let it sweat until garlic is fragrant. 
  3. Add the cilantro seeds and incorporate by stirring. Add the vegetable stock and reduce by half. Add the beans and warm in the pan. Pay attention not to overcook the beans. Keep them whole. Season with salt.