- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Ordering salmon in your favorite restaurant is a treat, but maybe you don’t think you can prepare this popular fish at home.

Perhaps you’re wary. Salmon is expensive. You could be paying $10 or more a pound for steaks or fillets, and you don’t want to ruin your dinner.

Among the fish varieties, salmon is actually one of the easiest to cook. Because of its high fat content (which is beneficial to your health), salmon won’t dry out as easily as other fish. And the typical thick portions don’t fall apart in a skillet or on the grill.

The only way you can undermine the fine qualities of salmon is with a fussy preparation method. When cooking salmon, simpler is better. If you’re a salmon novice, here are some tips:

• Leaving the skin on salmon when cooking helps keep the fish intact.

• Start the fish skin-side up, then gently turn over.

m When salmon turns light pink and starts to flake, remove it from heat. Salmon continues to cook a few minutes after being removed from heat.

• To serve, slide a spatula between the flesh and the skin. Then lift the flesh, leaving the skin behind.

m Choose a large fillet about - to 3/4-inch thick for skillet-cooked salmon. Increase to 1-inch thickness for grilling.

• If you’re concerned with bones, run your fingers lightly against the grain of the flesh. Use tweezers to pull out any bones you find.

This recipe is every bit as good as anything you will enjoy in a restaurant.

Salmon with couscous

Couscous with corn (recipe follows)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 12-ounce salmon fillet with skin on one side

Salt and pepper

1/3 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut in small pieces

1 tablespoon minced chives

Prepare couscous with corn and set aside.

Heat oil in large skillet. Season salmon with salt and pepper to taste. Add salmon, skin-side up, to skillet. Cook for 3 minutes. Turn over and cook another 3 minutes. Remove salmon to a serving platter and keep warm. Arrange couscous on platter with salmon.

Pour off oil in skillet. Add wine and scrape up any browned bits. Add lemon juice and cook until liquid is reduced by half. Reduce heat to low. Add butter pieces, one at a time, and swirl in to melt to a sauce. Add chives. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Either spoon sauce over salmon or serve sauce on the side. Makes 2 servings.

COUSCOUS WITH CORN

1 teaspoons butter

1 shallot, minced

1 cup chicken broth

3/4 cup couscous

1/3 cup corn (see note)

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Pinch of cayenne pepper, optional

1/8 teaspoon salt

Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add shallot and saute 1 to 2 minutes, or until tender. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add couscous, corn, pepper, cayenne, if using, and salt. Cover, remove from heat and set aside for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Note: Frozen corn, thawed or kernels scraped from one ear are fine for this recipe.

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