Wednesday, December 15, 2010

There are others like me out there, right?

I'm one of those people who during the Christmas holidays wear the crazy Santa hats and red antler hair pieces and call it fashionable.

I'm one of those people who sing carols till they drop while trimming the tree and sometimes even accidentally drop on the tree while caroling.

I'm one of those people who pretend to be excited when someone offers them a hot cup of Christmas cocoa when deep down inside all they really want is a glass of Scotch.

I'm one of those people who rush out on the afternoon of December 24 to buy all the gifts they said they had already bought weeks in advance.

I'm one of those people who occasionally tell a white lie during the holidays in order to make the ones they love happy.

"No (fill in name of friend/relative here), these cookies were delicious. Nah, that tooth was already chipped anyway"

"Yes (fill in name of niece/nephew/small cousin here), of course there is a Santa Claus"
(I'm not gonna be the one shattering that illusion. Someone else will do it eventually)

"Sure (grandma, grandpa, aunt etc) I love this jacket. Who knew 70's brown-green couch fabrics were back in style"

I'm one of those people who stay up late watching Christmas movies, eating a bowlful of caramel spiced popcorn and getting all teary-eyed and hopeful and believing that human nature is kind and everything is sweets and sugar.
And then, well, you know, I switch the channel to the news and I get a slap in the face.

I'm one of those people who prepare way too much cookie dough because they secretly want to stash it for late-night secret munching.

I'm one of those people who during the holidays (and other occasions) promise their guy a full-fat meal with lots of red meat (just like S likes it) and then make them fish.

There are others like me out there, right?

We're not talking about any kind of fish here though. We're talking about the almighty salmon. It is perhaps my favorite kind of fish and paired with my other favorite kind of food, rice, that was my idea of a perfect meal. Even though I caught S off guard with the fish, he came around once he tasted it. Besides, this was a pretty, pretty, pretty good meal. Salmon with a pomegranate glaze and Armenian rice pilaf.

The salmon is first marinated in olive oil, soy sauce, lime and lemon juice and then slathered with a combination of homemade pomegranate molasses, honey, fresh ginger, garlic and lime zest. The salmon is baked in the oven on high heat and a few minutes later, you are presented with a flavorful and aromatic dish that is full of sweetness from the salmon, with zesty and tangy undertones from the marinade and a sweet sourness from the pomegranate molasses. My mouth is watering as I'm writing the words and recall the taste.

The Armenian rice pilaf was a complete and utter savory delight. Made with basmati rice and vermicelli, lots of butter and pine nuts, it had an incredibly rich, buttery, earthy flavor and a wonderfully crisp texture. The final sprinkling of fresh mint and a few pomegranate seeds elevated the dish, freshened it up and rounded up all the flavors.

This glazed salmon and Armenian rice pilaf are ideal dishes to prepare for a holiday dinner with friends or family or for a dinner for two. Accompanied by a Pinot Grigio and a green salad you'll have a festive, delicious dinner without having to slave in the kitchen for hours. Plus, with all the turkeys and hams and beef going around during the holidays, this is a rather welcomed change, don't you think?

Salmon with Pomegranate Molasses Glaze
Adapted from Lulu Powers

This salmon dish is very easy to prepare and cook. You need to marinate the fish for 1 ½ hours and then bake it in the oven for 7-8 minutes and you're done.

I generally use good quality, low-sodium soy sauce since the taste is the same as that of regular soy sauce but it has less salt (which is only a plus) but you can surely use normal soy sauce. Just use less salt in the marinade.

You can serve the salmon either with the Armenian rice (see recipe below) or with a simple basmati or brown rice.

Yield: 4 servings


for the marinade
30 ml (2 Tbsp) soy sauce (preferably low-sodium)
15 ml (1 Tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
15 ml (1 Tbsp) lemon juice, freshly squeezed
15 ml (1 Tbsp) lime juice, freshly squeezed
15 ml (1 Tbsp) honey
2 medium-sized garlic cloves, unpeeled and lightly crushed
1 ½ tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground white pepper

for the glaze
30 ml (2 Tbsp) pomegranate molasses
15 ml (1 Tbsp) honey
15 ml (1 Tbsp) soy sauce (preferably low-sodium)
1 medium-sized garlic clove, finely minced
1 ½ tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
1 ½ tsp lime zest

4 salmon fillets, skinless and boneless, 180-200 g each
Freshly ground white pepper

10 g fresh mint, chopped
Pomegranate seeds from one pomegranate

Special equipment: grater, large shallow dish, large rimmed baking pan, cling film, pastry brush

Rinse the salmon fillets under cold running water.

for the marinade
In a large shallow dish, combine the soy sauce, extra virgin olive oil, lemon and lime juice, honey, crushed garlic, ginger, salt and pepper.
Add the salmon fillets to the dish, coating both sides with the marinade.
Cover the dish with cling film and refrigerate for 1 -1 ½ hours. Turn the salmon fillets every 20 minutes or so.

Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius.

for the glaze
In a medium-sized bowl, add the pomegranate molasses, honey, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and lime zest. Whisk everything together.

Take salmon out of the refrigerator and place fillets onto a large, rimmed baking pan. Season each fillet with a little salt and a little freshly ground white pepper. Using a pastry brush (or even your hands if you don't have one), brush the fillets with half of the glaze.
Place pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake salmon fillets for 5 minutes, until they are slightly browned.
Take pan out of the oven and brush the fillets with the remaining glaze. Return to the oven and bake for further 3 minutes, until the fish is richly glazed and almost cooked through.

Serve the salmon
Transfer fillets to the plate and garnish with the chopped fresh mint and the pomegranate seeds. Serve immediately along with the Armenian rice (see recipe below) or with any other side dish you have prepared.

Homemade Pomegranate Molasses

This is an extremely easy way to make homemade pomegranate molasses. The taste is sweet but a little tart as well.
You can use it not only as an ingredient for glazing salmon but also beef and pork. You can also use it on top of waffles, pancakes and of course, ice cream.

Yield: 250-300 ml

950 ml fresh pomegranate juice (or bottled 100% pomegranate juice)
190 g sugar
60 ml lemon juice, freshly squeezed and strained

In a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the sugar, lemon juice and pomegranate juice. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring continuously with a rubber spatula until the sugar dissolves. Taste the juice and if you want to add more sugar, do it at this stage. Add the sugar and stir continuously until it dissolves.
Once the juice begins to simmer, reduce the heat to medium or just enough to maintain a simmer. Every now and then remove with a spoon the foam that is gathered on top of the simmering juice.
Simmer for 1 - 1 ½ hours or until the juice has the consistency of syrup. You will end up with about 1 ¼ cups pomegranate molasses.

As the pomegranate molasses cools down, it will become thicker.

Pour the molasses in a glass jar (preferably sterilized) and put it in the refrigerator once it cools completely.

You can keep it in the fridge for up to 4 months.

Armenian Rice Pilaf
Adapted from Lulu Powers

This rice dish is extremely versatile and will serve you well during this holiday season. It is very easy to prepare and you can serve it not only with the glazed salmon but with lamb, pork and beef main dishes.

If you' re looking for a perfectly delicious and not aggressive in taste side dish, this is it.

Yield: 6 servings

400 g basmati rice
90 g unsalted butter
45 g vermicelli or angel-hair pasta, broken into 1 ½-2 cm lengths
900 ml good quality chicken or vegetable stock, warmed
40 g pine nuts
½ tsp salt
Freshly ground white pepper
15 g fresh mint, chopped
Pomegranate seeds from one pomegranate

Special equipment: large sieve

Place basmati rice in a large sieve and rinse it well under cold running water, until the water running through is no longer cloudy. Put sieve over a bowl and let rice dry.

In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
Add the vermicelli or angel-hair pasta and the pine nuts and sauté them in the butter until they're golden brown, for 3-5 minutes. The butter may foam while you do this.
Add the rice and stir it around in order to get coated with the butter.
Add the warmed chicken stock, the salt and a generous amount of freshly ground white pepper. Stir everything around and once the stock comes to the boil, turn heat down to low, cover the pan with the lid and let rice cook for about 25 minutes, until the rice is tender yet crispy and all the liquid is absorbed.
Check the rice after 20 minutes to make sure it doesn't overcook.

When rice is cooked, take it off the heat and fluff it well with a fork. Cover the pan and let the rice stand for 20 minutes.

Stir in half of the chopped fresh mint and serve the pilaf either in individual dishes or in a large serving bowl. Garnish with the rest of the mint and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds on top.

If you have any rice left, you can certainly eat it the next day. It is equally flavorful.


  1. The slide show of the salmon transforming looks so cool! I'd love to try that sauce with some pork too!

  2. This meal looks so good and wholesome.Really love pomegranate molasses.And that too home made!Love the holiday spirit in your post..enjoyed it a lot:)

  3. I'll stay up watching all of the movies with you! Lovely dish!

  4. You are one of those people that bring a HUGE smile to my face...and make me happy! Great post Magda, and lovely salmon! I gotta get my fish mojo going.YUM!

  5. Of course there are people like you dear Magda! I'm one of them with you all the way, except regarding the Scotch. We always eat salmon on Christmas Day so I truly welcome your recipe and with pomegranites how - how lovely.

  6. Wonderful recipe....with wonderful Christmas colors!!.....and good post too.....I'm like you in every aspect except that I do not eat popcorn (sorry...I don't like it!), and all my Christmas chopping was done by October....However, I do like to go to the mall to see the decoration of the windows.....Abrazotes, Marcela

  7. Yeah, I get pretty much into the Christmas season, I have to admit and as you may have noticed. I love your recipe and I definitely want to try making the pomegranate molasses. It sounds like a great ingredient to have.

  8. You totally rocked that Armenian rice!! When are you gonna come cook for me in Rome? I can reciprocate. I have another slow simmering Ragu on the stove now and my baby is cute :)

  9. Are there others? We should start a club - or support group! I love this season and only wish I didn't have to work so that I could play all day. Love Pomegranate molasses and love even more that you gave us a recipe to make ourselves. It would make a great Christmas gift for friends! Can't wait to try the salmon and rice! David

  10. It looks so nice.. I wish I could have a bite..


  11. Yunmmm; i can't say that I love salmon but I would love it here! and that basmati is so refined and delicious. I guess you belong to the people-pleasers, at least during the holiday season, and I am like you!

  12. fun and festive!
    your salmon is very similar to one that I make with maple syrup, delicious, but it's your rice pilaf that has my mouth watering as I read through your delightful post.
    keep enjoying the holidays!

  13. I have a lot of pomegranate arils and I love the idea of using them on rice. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Peter — I think the sauce would be perfect with pork!

    Tanvi — I love making my own condiments, they taste so much better than the store bought stuff.

    Belinda — ok :)

    Deeba — your comment makes me happy!

    Vanessa — we never eat salmon on Christmas day. If I suggested that to my family they would think I was crazy. They are quite the carnivores, especially during the holidays. I'm breaking with tradition here!

    Marcela — you don't like popcorn? I can't believe it! I LOVE popcorn!

    Nuts about food — it's really easy to make and it is incredibly delicious. I eat a spoonful every day when I want something sweet :)

    Nicole — you make a compelling case :)

    David — it makes a GREAT Christmas gift. Good idea my friend :)

    Thk — anytime ;)

    taste of Beirut — I certainly like to please the people I love, especially during the holidays. They're worth it.

    Tracy — :)

    nancy — mmm maple syrup. What a terrific idea. I'm gonna try that sometime.

    KDinOK — you're welcome

  15. That looks absolutely beautiful! And yes I will put my hand up for many of those things! :D

  16. I loved the icon of the dish and I'm sure it's delicious!!! BUT if my greek table doesn't have a certain amount of cooked meat, nobody will be happy! Especially my kids and nieces...

  17. Just stumbled by your blog thru Kay's...Love the way you write and your pictures are beautiful !!
    That salmon looks lovely...

  18. Lorraine — so I'm not alone, huh? ;)

    Marina — Meat is good but not all the time. I know kids can be difficult but the grown ups will certainly enjoy this.

    Arch — thank you and welcome to my "kitchen"

  19. The salmon looks so beautiful, and so does the pilaf. I think its a great alternative (not to mention healthy) to the heavy meals that most people serve this time of your. It looks like a breath of fresh air.
    And no daaaahling, you are totally not alone. But if you need help learning to show "happy surprise" on your face, you may want to learn from these people on the oprah show:
    *kisses* HH

  20. This looks amazing, great directions and photos!
    Thank you for sharing the recipe!

  21. I'm definitely with you on the cookie dough. What a gorgeous meal! I love the addition of the pomegranates- so festive and beautiful!

  22. This looks like a beautiful Christmas meal or anytime meal, really. And...this post, it is so great. Thanks for putting a smile on my face.

  23. I'm one of those people who'd like to eat off the screen right now !
    What a lovely dish and what a lovely read :)

  24. You are too funny! I'm sure you're not alone... and personally I think shopping on Dec 24th is fun! I love this pomegranate glaze - what a meal!

  25. Great post Magda! I'm with you on all those points ... except the Xmas shopping which I like to do in small spurts starting early in November.

    The salmon sounds divine and the Armenian pilaf looks outstanding. Very Holiday-ish meal that I personally would love to dig into on Christmas.

  26. And I think you're the kind of person I would LOVE to hang out with during Christmas! I love your enthusiasm, and your creativity with creating christmas-themed dishes!

  27. You are not alone.
    Your fellow-beings greet you!
    Excellent salmon, not turkey nor pork, salmon!

  28. Poms make dishes look festive. A little white lie never hurt :p