On Motivation & Quick & Easy Miso Salmon...

The last few weeks have been tougher than usual on the work front, and there were quite a few days that I found myself wanting to scrap all of it - the blogs, the steadily growing number of circlers, the Cookalongs, the Cookblogs, just. ALL OF IT - and start selling quickles and hot sauce at the farmers market or something...

But then I remembered how I hate being outdoors during peak sunlight hours.

I kid.

Well, not really. I really do hate being outdoors during peak sunlight.

But thank Goddess for exhaustion some days. Because sometimes exhaustion keeps you from acting on your bad thinking.

And sometimes, it's that very inaction that makes you still enough to let in the voices that remind you of your purpose.

I mean literal voices.

The kind that seem to chime in just at that moment when you're ready quit to tell you that your work isn't done.

The kind who write or comment to let you know you've inspired them to learn to cook this year, or that you got them to try a new dish they wouldn't otherwise have tried, or that their family loved that one recipe, or that they just really enjoy and look forward to the foodporn every day...

And you're too exhausted to resist the voices that say you are actually finding a way to do some good for someone else with your work from time to time...

And you realize it's totally not time to slather on the SPF1000 and don the crazy Asian lady hats and sunglasses to shill quickles and hot sauce at the farmers market.

The moral of the story? Contrary to all the feelgood motivational quotes, no matter how much you love your work and how blessed you are to be able to do what you love for work, you will more than likely have days when it feels like a four letter word.

And when it seems like you've found a way to suck all the fun out of it for the time being, digging deeper for a sense of purpose can breathe new life into that love you have for your work until that sense of purpose becomes its own weird kind of fun.

The other perhaps more important moral of the story? That even when we work in a solitary kind of way, we don't do it alone. So many of you have so often gotten me through a rough patch, perhaps not knowing, but just knowing, that I could somehow use your help and support. :)

And now for another recipe transfer inspired by an exchange with +Hazel Ilano and +Rebecca Rippin.

*Miso* Salmon
Serves 2 as entree, 4 if served bento style with other stuff
Time: 30 minutes

Miso (meesoh) is a Japanese fermented soybean paste and likely familiar to you in miso soup, which is the soup you usually get with your sushi or teriyaki. I put the word in asterisks because I used dwenjahng when I took these pics - which is the Korean version and slightly stronger and more pungent in flavor. But either would work well in this recipe, in the same quantities.

If you can't find miso in your local big box chain (it would be in a refrigerated area), you can easily find it online, in an Asian market, at Whole Foods, or likely another hippie/granola type market.

Salmon, if you like it, is a great starter fish for beginning cooks because of its high fat content. Where most fish can easily go from perfectly cooked to rubber in a matter of seconds, the fat content of salmon is much more forgiving and yields good results within a wider span of cook times.

- 2  six oz. salmon fillets or steaks
- 1 Tablespoon oil


- 2 Tablespoons miso or dwenjahng (you could even use Chinese black bean paste if you've got that in your pantry)
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 cup drier rice wine, sake, or white wine (like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio)
- 1 Tablespoon oil
- the green part of 1 green onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic (about 1 small clove)

- chopped or julienned green onion for garnish

1) Take the salmon out of the fridge and let it come up to room temp before cooking (20 to 30 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Line an oven proof dish that will fit both your salmon fillets with aluminum foil. This makes for super easy cleanup. (I used one of those Pyrex pie dishes.)

4) Rub the salmon fillets on all surfaces, skin side included, with the tablespoon of oil, and place them, skin side up, in the foil-lined baking dish.

5) Mix all the glaze ingredients together until the miso is fully incorporated and the brown sugar is dissolved.

I used the salmon tray to mix my glaze - one less dish to wash.
The wine I used was mahkgulli (MAHKguhlLEE), a Korean rice wine.

6) Pour the glaze over the salmon, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

7) Optional step: If you want to crisp up the skin a bit, turn the oven to broil, and put the salmon under the broiler for 30 seconds to a minute, checking on it at the 30 second mark. Sweet glazes can burn quickly under the intense heat of a broiler. 

If you want to eat the skin, you of course want to make sure it's been completely scaled. If you buy your salmon at a fish counter, you can always ask them to take care of that detail for you, but if you've bought it prepackaged, you may have to do it yourself. For the purposes of it being quick and easy, if it's not already scaled, you may just decide to scrap the idea of eating it.

The way I tell if the salmon is done is to give the center a gentle press down with my index finger as if I'm going to push into the fish about 1/4 of an inch. If it stays indented, it's undercooked. If it's resistant to any indentation, it's probably overcooked. But if it gives to the push and springs right back up, it's done.

8) Garnish with chopped or julienned green onions and serve with steamed rice.

You guys always seem to find magical times and ways to keep me motivated.

Thank you. 




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