I’m a sucker for a “time saving tips” article. You know, the stories that suggest scrubbing the kitchen while you wait for your pasta water to boil. Unfortunately, the kids/spouse/dog traffic in my kitchen peaks right around pasta cooking time, so what occurs is the polar opposite of scrubbing.
Instead, here’s my own personal list of practical tips: 1) Train your kids/spouse/dog to put their dishes in the empty dishwasher, not the sink. 2) Ignore the time-sucking rabbit hole of unrealistic self-improvement articles. 3) Purchase a jar of Tajín.
Found in the spice aisle of major grocery stores, and front and center in Mexican supermarkets, Tajín is a delightful blend of chile peppers, salt and dehydrated lime juice. It adds salty-sweet heat to everything from meat to margaritas to melon. And it is the star of my time-saving salmon and Brussels sprouts meal.
We’re going to cook both the Brussels sprouts and the salmon in a high smoke point oil. Think canola, corn or avocado oil. Typically, I suggest using heart-healthy olive oil. But olive oil can’t stand up to the high heat needed for this dish, and I have no good tips for silencing an unrelenting smoke alarm.
Start with smaller Brussels sprouts that don’t have lanky stems. Cut them into similar-sized pieces and toss them with a splash of oil and a dash of Tajín. Heat an additional teaspoon of oil in your cast-iron skillet and place the sprouts in a single layer. Here’s my best Brussels sprouts tip — don’t touch them for a few minutes. You want to sear the sides to create charred edges. The citrus notes of the Tajín feature prominently in the cooked Brussels sprouts, which is both unexpected and delicious.
Salmon cooks in about the time it takes to clear the backpacks/mail/dog leash off the kitchen table. There are three tricks to preparing salmon: 1) Blot off any condensation with a paper towel before cooking, so the outside crisps. 2) Cook the salmon skin-side down first. The skin protects the flesh from overcooking. 3) Don’t overcook it; like beef, it will continue to cook an additional 5 degrees after it’s removed from the stove.
While the internet is full of recipes for delicious glazes, I promise that all you really need for complex, intriguing flavor is a generous covering of Tajín before cooking. What I find really interesting is that the cooked salmon picks up the smoky-salty notes of the Tajín. Even though we use the same spice blend to flavor both elements of the meal, the fish and vegetables taste complementary, not identical. And the fact that there’s only one pan to clean up, well, that’s the best time saver of all.
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