Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Citrus Among Us

No matter what form they sprout into as satsuma or pomelo, citrus satisfies during the gray days of January. I'd like to claim that I only eat seasonally but due to the fact that I now live in Montana, I have more than just an earnest interest in eating only beets. Although I have a fondness for these sanguine and hearty veggies, I do have a dwindling root cellar that I have been currently avoiding. Even my strong Irish taste for potatoes seems subdued. Currently, I am boycotting anything boiled and mashed. All I want are blood oranges as an afternoon snack, grapefruit juiced with carrot and ginger and backpacks that hold southern reminders of warm days to come. While out skiing in the cold, the perfect fruit--snug in it's down jacket of rind and pith--manages to keep shape, perfectly sweet in the winter sun. I love to watch the peels curl on the snow. Sometimes I imagine that even birds find the thrown rinds as a treat to store as incense for their nests. Here's proof of the heights I will climb to eat an orange in the cold sun.

There's something about the smell of citrus in winter that makes me feel like I am holding some token of warmth, some reminder that somewhere someone might be sweating not under just layers of wool. This past week we received a package of such a reminder thanks to my aunt Jan, who sends boxes of Honey Bells to her northern family members. We've been devouring them to say the least and finding ways to integrate them into meals in salads, but mostly they've simply become a coveted dessert.

My favorite use of the Honey Bells--besides eating them out skate skiing--was with a salad I adapted from this month's Bon Appetit. I turned it into a rice dish and added a vinaigrette. Also, thanks to my brother in law's salmon we brought back from Alaska, this meal felt like something we truly should bow our heads in thankfulness. Enjoy.

Salmon, Fennel, Mint with a Hint of Sun

1 cup rice, rinsed, cooked & slightly cooled
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 whole star anise
4 cups of water
1 one pound salmon fillet with skin
2 Honey Bells or navel oranges
4 cups fennel, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh mint, chiffonade

1. Place sugar, vinegar, star anise and four cups of cold water in a large deep skillet. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Bring to boil over high heat and stir until sugar dissolves.
3. Add salmon fillet, skin side up, cover and turn off heat.
4. Let stand for ten minutes, then turn salmon over. Cover and let stand for five to six minutes or until salmon is opaque in center.
5. Remove salmon from liquid and cool.
6. Meanwhile make vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon juice from orange

7. This vinaigrette is really just a template, play around with sweet and sour and yes, fish sauce is a key ingredient here even though there is a small amount.
8. Segment your oranges. First cut the bottom 1/4 inch off each orange. Stand orange up on flat end and using a sharp pairing knife, cut off peel and white pith. Hold peeled orange in one hand over a large bowl and cut between membranes, releasing segments into the bowl.
9. Add fennel, mint and flank salmon into bowl and toss with vinaigrette.
10. Season with salt and pepper and first place cooled rice on a plate and place salmon salad on top.

I seriously thought about taking a photo of this because it was so lovely, but by the time I went for my camera, both my husband and myself had devoured this dish.


  1. 我只知道,假如我去愛人生,那人生一定也會回愛我..................................................

  2. Mmmm. Sounds so good! Maybe I will be able to get a picture to post before I eat it all as well. Thanks for the post.

  3. 以簡單的行為愉悅他人的心靈,勝過千人低頭禱告........................................

  4. 想像是什麼並不重要,想像能做什麼才重要..................................................