I’m my mother’s child. I’m strangely ruthless when it comes to clutter be it clothing or things. My philosophy is unless it’s tax documentation, if it’s not been worn or used for a year, it needs to go to a(nother) good home. Luckily the hubby and pooch have made the cut this year 😉 That said, I have a hard time tossing out perfectly good food, or more precisely scraps or tidbits of food. We’re lucky enough to still have delectable salmon at the markets here in PDXville and one of my favorite ways to eat fresh salmon is seared and nestled in a crusty baguette with some homemade tomato jam. One of the tricks of cooking a fillet or really anything is that you need a uniform thickness otherwise the thinner parts will be overcooked and dry before the rest of it is even close to being done, which means trimming off the thin little edge flap. Next time you order a fillet at a restaurant take a look at the thickness and you’ll see something much more square and uniform than the fillet quadrangles in the seafood case cuz those thin pieces get trimmed off to be used in other dishes like chowder. So that means the rich, tender little belly flap is all mine! Sometimes I preserve it with miso to make my own 塩鮭 shiozake (salted salmon which is yummy in お握り onigiri, triangular rice “sandwiches” with different fillings wrapped with a piece of nori seaweed, or Japanese breakfast with お茶漬けochazuke, rice with green tea poured over it often topped with shredded nori and sometimes a strip or flakes of shiozake). So yes, little leftover tidbits are a good thing in my book.
Going along with my tidbits and oddbits theme, I dug through the veggie bin and unearthed some of the garden’s purple potato harvest–pitifully tiny little root vegetables the size of large grapes and half a sweet potato from a previous snack (Mmm, sweet potato with a pat of butter and cinnamon brown sugar anyone?), kale that’s a perennial staple in our house, half of a sweet onion, a little pancetta, and a variety of milks for cooking and cereal. Yup, looks like soup to me! Since this wasn’t thickened, it’s technically not a chowder but you could easily add another peeled potato that’s been finely diced and simmer it till it breaks apart before you add the rest of the ingredients. I figured lilac chowder would be too fashion forward even for me. Like most people, I tend to buy foods that go well together/have flavors that I like so odds are the dark little corners of your refrigerator and pantry are housing the perfect ingredients for tidbit soup 🙂
Just one thing to note:
1) Want tender flaky salmon that’s not chewy by the time you sit down to eat? Since fish and most seafood cook so quickly, you can just pop it into the simmering broth and turn off the stove. The heat is enough to poach it and the residual heat will cook it to a medium doneness without overcooking it so by the time you plate it you’re ready to go. w00t.
2) Okay, I lied 😉 Why leave the skin on your root veggies? Besides the texture and added fiber, the pulp just underneath the skin (which would be removed with peeling) is where most of the vitamins and minerals hide. While that creamy starchy inside is oh so delectable, the skin contains more nutrients (vitamins B, C, iron, calcium, and potassium to name a few) than the rest of the potato. And the same is true of sweet potatoes/yams (the skin alone has 3X more beta carotene, a vitamin A precursor that is converted to vitamin A by enzymes in your body, than the rest of the vegetable).
1 oz pancetta or 2 strips bacon, diced
1/2 small sweet onion, finely diced
1/2 lb potato, skin on and in 1 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 sweet potato (~1/2 lb), skin on and in 1 1/2-inch cubes
4 leaves kale, large veins removed and torn into 1-inch pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled
4 c milk (I used what I could find in the refrigerator, ~1:1 mix of whole milk and 1%)
2 oz salmon, skin and pin bones removed and in 1-inch chunks
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot (at least 2 quarts) brown pancetta over medium heat ~2 minutes. Using a paper towel and tongs blot out most of the oil leaving about 1-2 tsp behind. Add onion and sauté till golden and translucent ~3-4 minutes. Add potato, sweet potato, and kale and sauté for another 4-5 minutes to brown them a little. Stir in salt, sugar, and rosemary to coat potatoes and kale then add milk. Cover and gently simmer till potatoes are easily pierced with a fork ~10-5 minutes. Stir in salmon pieces and turn off heat. Salt and pepper to taste. Makes 2 main course-sized servings or 4 first course servings.