Sandwich–#75–Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes and Dill Mustard Sauce with Beet and Cucumber Salad

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We had friends over for dinner, one of which was a vegetarian, so we did another version of salmon sandwiches. E had made this meal for me last week that was so tasty it had to be repeated. Problem is, E cooks by ‘feel,’ whereas I follow a recipe and make adaptions where needed. Borrowing ideas from E is impossible for someone writing a food blog.

I watched E make the salmon sandwich with roasted tomato and beet salad last week and figured I could follow what he did close enough to reproduce it. But E doesn’t measure out any of the herbs or condiments he uses for anything. “I just do what I like,” he says. “I go by taste.”

I started with the roast tomatoes. “Honey, what do you season them with?” I asked.
“Cayenne pepper…”
“How much?” I asked.
“I don’t know, just sprinkle it on.”
“Just sprinkle on cayenne pepper, huh? Kinda dangerous. What else?”
“Just put the slices on a baking sheet and roast them.” I did that. E then freaked out. “You’re not going to boil them and shock them first?”
“You didn’t say I had to! This is why a RE-CI-PE would be helpful.”

Next, the dill mustard sauce. “You need some creme fraiche, a bit of mustard, a bit of dill and some lemon,” E rattled off.
“How much of each?”
“A bit of each!” he said.
I scooped out 3 tablespoons of creme fraiche, then spooned out a small amount of mustard into a bowl, then sprinkled a bit of chopped dill inside.
“WHOA.” E said. “That’s WAY too much creme fraiche.”
“DUDE. You didn’t tell me how much I needed? This is why you need to be SPECIFIC!”

Our dear married dinner guests looked with worry as E and I bickered over the stove. They thought about slowly backing out of the kitchen for fear E and I would cut each other with a steak knife. Instead, I let E take over cooking the salmon and prepping the salted cucumbers and beets because he had the entire recipe in his brain and wasn’t able to share it. I assembled the sandwich once the oven work was done, and we all ate without any bloodshed.

Dinner was as tasty as the first time E made it. “It just comes with practice,” E told me. Perhaps I would be able to practice this meal on my own if only I knew the proper recipe in the first place.

I wrote this recipe below from watching E make this twice and from badgering him for exact directions. But he’s so horrible at remembering how much of what goes into a meal that we got into an argument. I wouldn’t accept “I have no idea” for a measurement of how much olive oil was needed for the shallots.

I guess the goal of cooking is to perfect a few meals to the point where you don’t need a recipe and can prepare it blind. Which is why E is a better chef than I am. But I need some direction to help me get to his level. Like sex, how can one know how to serve up something delicious if they don’t know what is needed?

It’s true, I hardly ever use a recipe. It’s because when I do, it’s less fun, but also the results are less tasty!
1 pound salmon
bread for four sandwiches (we use two oversized rolls and cut them in half)
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
3 beets, boiled
4 tomatoes
2 teaspoons dill, finely chopped
2 teaspoons mustard
1 teaspoon creme fraiche
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 shallot, sliced
5-6 tablespoons olive oil, (for both cooking the salmon and frying shallots)
white pepper, to taste
sea salt

First, roast tomatoes: shock them in hot water for 30 seconds each, then place them in cold water. Peel off skin, slice and season with salt, pepper, cayenne, basil and a shake of olive oil. Place on baking sheet and bake in oven at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Cucumber/beet salad: peel beets, and boil in saucepan until beets can be pierced softly with a knife. Remove from water. Slice thinly, mix with sliced cucumbers, and one teaspoon dill and add about a tablespoon of sea salt. Set aside.

Mustard dill sauce: add mustard, creme fraiche, lemon juice and a teaspoon of dill to small bowl. Mix and set aside.

Fry shallots in enough olive oil to coat the pan, until crispy.

Salmon: season with salt and pepper, and cook until medium rare in skillet on medium high heat. Toast bread. Slather on mustard dill sauce. Then layer on greens. Next place a salmon fillet on bread. Then layer on roasted tomato and shallots. Top with other slice of bread. Makes four sandwiches.

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