Sometimes, a great dinner doesn’t require much effort or planning, it just happens. :) Here is a rather elegant salmon and shrimp dish that we had last week — it took less than 30 minutes of prep time and would have easily served eight guests. A fresh warmed baguette, a green salad and a bottle of white wine completed this impromptu Friday dinner with a couple of friends.
Earlier that week, we had purchased a whole salmon at the seaside market, where my suki expertly filleted the body and prepared the head for sinigang (sour soup). One whole salmon fillet was turned into two portions of gravlax, and we had to figure out how to use the other large fillet. We deboned the fillet, cleaned it up a bit and placed it in a large ceramic baking dish. Next, seasoned it with salt and pepper, slathered it with lots of butter, sprinkled it generously with whole fronds and chopped fresh dill, and added some lemon slices. I stuck this into a pre-heated oven at 400F or so. Meanwhile, I parboiled some baby potatoes or medium sized potatoes (slice them after they are almost cooked). When the butter in the baking dish is melted and sizzling (after about 12-15 mins), add the potatoes to the sides of the salmon, add say a half kilo of white shrimp or suahe, and season with more salt and pepper.
Bake another 10-12 minutes until the salmon is just cooked all the way through, but do not overcook. Bring the serving platter directly to the table and serve your dinner from there. Use pieces of french bread to sop up the pan juices. Sprinkle your salmon with some lemon juice… yum. It was so simple and yet so incredibly delicious and hearty. The salmon was moist, but perhaps left in the oven a couple of minutes too long, the potatoes were browned on the edges and absorbed much of the butter, the shrimps were succulent and sweet, and the lemon juice and dill pulled it all together. It looked terrific as well. :)
I figured this entire dish cost roughly PHP1,000 to make, plus salads and bread, resulting in a total cost of say PHP1,200. For 8 people, that came out to an average cost of PHP150 (US$3.50) per person! People ask me why I don’t eat out that often in Manila… it’s because with home made meals like this, why do battle with traffic, parking, expense, etc. unless the meal is something that isn’t relatively easy to replicate in one’s own kitchen?