We’re very routine-oriented in this household, including Rudy the Cat. The Lovely Lois begins her morning routine during the week, getting herself ready for work — while I lie in bed, getting ready not to work. Rudy the Cat will have nothing of this and will jump on the bed and walk on me until I get up and make breakfast for all of us, which he supervises by doing his best to trip me until I feed him first.
The routine continues as our lunches and dinners can only begin after he gets his Greenies treats. Later in the evening, I’m notified of his interactive playtime by his sitting at my feet and staring at me until he gets impatient with my obvious feeble attempt to ignore him, at which point, he’ll get up on the couch and begin pawing my arm.
Most of the rest of the time he’s either stalking the birds and squirrels attracted to the birdfeeders just on the other side of our second-floor living room window or sleeping … a lot. Lois will often inform Rudy the Cat he’s in charge when we leave the house, but I remind her that he’s well aware of his status as my supervisor.
This past winter, for the humans in this routine-oriented household, I would roast a chicken on Sunday, make a stock from the bones on Monday and make a soup on Tuesday. This routine had the added benefit of providing us with lunches of leftover roast chicken and soup for a few days as well. Meals for the rest of the week would often be either stews, pasta or rice dishes until it was Sunday, and the routine would begin anew. Meanwhile, Rudy the Cat consistently supervises me in the kitchen.
The routines, Rudy the Cat and the food were comforting during this pandemic winter when socializing with our friends was done with two-dimensional representations of them in little boxes on a computer screen.
Life is just beginning to return to a kind of pre-pandemic normalcy now and while Rudy the Cat has maintained his indolent lifestyle (he is a cat, after all!), we’ve become more active. We’ve had real, live, three-dimensional, fully vaccinated friends over for dinner, which Rudy the Cat finds a bit confusing.
My meal preparations have now begun to include grilling and the salads and the lighter dishes of summer. I’m not one for grilling on the Weber in the winter as I subscribe to paraphrasing Pete Seeger; to everything there is a season and turn, turn, turn on the grill when it’s warmer. Ouch!
CEDAR-PLANKED SALMON WITH MAPLE-LIME GLAZE
(For two humans and maybe a little for the Rudy the Cat)
I’ve used this technique a number of times over the years using different glazes. The salmon picks up a subtle sweet smokiness from the cedar and the wood’s insulating properties help keep the salmon moist while being grilled directly over medium hot coals for about 15 minutes. This time, I used a simple light glaze, which doubles as a light sauce for the rice noodle and fresh pea bed for the salmon.
This is a really satisfying, light meal for two; however cedar-planked salmon makes for a dramatic presentation for a dinner party when you serve the fish directly from the cedar plank. Untreated cedar planks for cooking are sold in various sizes at many specialty stores and online.
Salmon with peas are a classic early summer New England combination, this time given a Southeast Asian flavor. Recently, I’ve noticed eight-ounce bags of fresh English peas appearing in grocery stores. If they’re not available, I’d use green beans, preferably haricot verts, cut in small pieces. I don’t think frozen peas would be an effective texture contrast to the rice noodles.
12 ounces to 1 pound center-cut salmon fillet, cut in half and patted dry with paper towels
Pea shoots for garnish
For the glaze/sauce:
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
Juice from 2 limes
Sriracha to taste
For the rice noodle bed:
2 tablespoons of high heat oil such as grapeseed
4 ounces mung bean sprouts
4 ounces medium rice noodles
4 ounces fresh peas
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
Soak the cedar plank by weighing down in the sink for at least two hours.
Combine the ingredients for the glaze/sauce.
Light the grill and heat to medium hot.
Heat your oven to 250 degrees to keep the salmon warm while finishing the rice noodle bed.
Spray or brush the cedar plank with oil on the side being used to put the salmon.
Place the salmon on the cedar plank and brush the fish and the plank with the glaze. Put the plank directly over the coals and cover the grill with all the baffles open. The salmon should take about 15 minutes to cook and is ready when it begins to flake when gently separated with a fork. I like it slightly underdone. Brush the salmon 2 or 3 times more with the glaze while it cooks.
While the fish is grilling, cook the rice noodles in boiling water for 4 minutes and rinse thoroughly.
When the fish is done, transfer the plank with the salmon to a sheet pan and keep warm in the oven while finishing the noodle bed.
Heat the 2 tablespoons of high heat oil in a wok or large sauté pan and stir fry the peas for a minute or so. Add the remainder of the glaze/sauce to the pan and bring to a boil. Add the rice noodles (rinse again if they’re sticky) and the rest of the noodle bed ingredients and heat through.
Serve the salmon on the rice noodle bed in wide bowls garnished with pea shoots.