This is a recipe from NF Rebel Chef Noel.
Today we’re going to be looking at a recipe that is super easy to make, but looks really elaborate and impressive.
Maybe you’ve invited someone special over to cook dinner with you. Or heck, maybe you just want to treat yo self to a nice meal because it’s Thursday, you work hard, and damnit, you deserve it.
Well, look no further!
I’m all about fancy-looking recipes that take a minimal amount of time. Most of us Rebels work a full-time job, some of us have families, and on top of all our daily responsibilities, we’re doing our best to get and stay healthy. Steve always says 80% of winning this game is diet, so why not make this part as easy as possible?
This recipe should take no longer than 30 minutes, depending on your knife skills. And you can get to dinner time even quicker by making the pineapple salsa ahead of time!
Pan Seared Salmon and Pineapple Salsa
Prep time: 18 min
Total Time: 30 min
For the salsa:
- 1/4 avocado
- 1/4 pineapple
- 1/4 onion
- 3/4 bell pepper
- 1/2 jalapeno – or more if you like it spicier! Bonus point if you roast the jalapeno first!
- 1 clove garlic – minced
- 1 tsp (5ml) lime juice
- 1/4 (1.23ml) tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp (1.23ml) red pepper flake
- handful of chopped fresh cilantro
For the fish:
- 1 lb (453g) salmon filet (wild caught preferred) – Ask the person behind the counter to cut your fish from the thickest part of the filet.
- 1 tsp (5ml) coconut oil (for pan-frying)
- salt & pepper to taste
- cutting board
- small mixing bowl
- measuring spoon
- frying pan
Note: The instructions below are for a simple raw pineapple salsa that should only take as long to make as it does for you to chop the ingredients and mix them together with a spoon.
(That’s pretty quick!)
If you have more time (or are a more advanced cook) and would like to deepen the flavor of your salsa, throw everything but the garlic and avocado on the grill or in the oven to roast them a bit before chopping!
We’re going to start off by washing and chopping our vegetables.
1. Dice your bell pepper, jalapeno, and 1/4 of your onion. Here is a picture of what mine looked like, so you can see about what size they should be. If they’re not exactly that small or you want to cut them a different size, that’s fine. Totally up to you!
Once you’ve finished chopping them, add them to your mixing bowl.
2. Smash and mince (cut really small) your clove of garlic. Add that to your mixing bowl as well.
3. Now cut your avocado. First, cut it in half.
Then, make slices vertically down one of the halves. (I chose the half without the seed so I wouldn’t have to take out the seed right then.)
Now make perpendicular cuts on the avocado short-ways.
Lastly, use a spoon to scrape the avocado into your bowl with the rest of your ingredients. (I actually only ended up using only 1/4 of the avocado for the amount of salsa I was making. I ate the other 1/4 that was cut as I was cooking… no apologies.)
You can store the remaining avocado in a ziplock bag to use later. The outside will oxidize over night and look a somewhat yucky brown, but it is still edible, and you can use it the next day. Alternately, you can make a quick guacamole to dip veggies in and munch on as an appetizer!
4. Now it’s time to cut the pineapple! I so rarely buy pineapples at the store, but luckily the day I went shopping, not only were pineapples on sale, but they were also ripe! Score!
If you can’t find fresh pineapple at the store, you can buy canned. Just read the ingredients to make sure there’s no added sugar!
First you’re going to want to cut the top off.
Stand your pineapple up. You can see that it has a core inside. This is where it once attached to the bush it came from. You can sort of see a faint outline of it when you stand the pineapple up.
Make your next cut as near to the core as possible without cutting the core.
After you’ve cut off your piece of the pineapple, lay it down again and cut off the bottom.
Then, cut it in half. We’ll only be using this much for the salsa. Keep the rest as an after-workout snack, or add it to grilled steak kabobs, burgers, or grill it and use it as dessert!
Now we’re going to carefully remove the skin. Get the knife as close to the skin as possible and slice it off.
The first time I cut a pineapple, I cut too close to the fruit and lost most of it. Take it from me – don’t do that. It was disappointing.
If you want to cut your whole pineapple right off the bat, a better choice might be to slice of the skin right after you cut the top off. Since I only used this portion of my fruit and saved the rest, I cut it this way.
If you have some indentations with the skin still in them (eyes) in your pineapple, that’s okay. This is edible, but not a nice texture to chew. You can carefully cut these pieces out with a smaller knife or chop them off after the next step.
Next, slice the pineapple into three long pieces (hot dog style). Then slice shorter, perpendicular cuts about the same size as the avocado pieces (hamburger style).
Add this juicy, pineappley goodness to your bowl.
5. Now add your lime juice, salt, and any optional ingredients you might want. Mix all ingredients well and set aside.
Now onto the fish!
6. Cut your fish into single serving sized portions. My 1 lb salmon filet sliced pretty nicely into 4 pieces. It might be tough to get your knife through the scales if your knife is not especially sharp. It was tough for me. Just keep at it and don’t cut yourself.
The thickest part of my salmon was about an inch. At the thinnest, it was maybe a quarter inch. That’s okay. I cooked each piece of fish individually because I had a small pan. If you have a larger pan, you can cook all your fish on it at once – just remember to watch them carefully because the thinner pieces will cook much faster than the thicker ones.
7. Heat your pan on medium high heat with your fat (I used coconut oil) in the pan.
8. When the pan is hot enough, carefully place the fish skin-side down in the pan. Do not drop or throw the fish! This will cause oil to splash up and burn you, and that is no bueno.
9. Let this side of the fish cook for about 6 minutes. You’ll be able to see the salmon cook as the side nearest to the pan changes from a dark translucent pink to a pastel orange-y color. Press down on the salmon a couple times during cooking to keep the skin from curling up.
10. Carefully flip your fish using your spatula. Let the other side cook for another 5-6 minutes.
You’ll see the orangey-pastel color increasing on this side of the fish and it will nearly come to meet the cooked other side of the fish. Press down this side a couple of times to prevent the sides from curling up.
11. Once your larger surfaces are done, take a minute to turn the fish onto its sides for about 30 seconds each to sear these as well, then remove from heat.
Serve over a bed of fresh or wilted spinach, and spoon some of the salsa on top of each piece of fish. Serve by candle light while a salty sea breeze tousles your hair.
Treat Yo Self!
You deserve a treat. And by treat, I don’t mean a pint of cookie dough ice cream while sitting on the couch watching Game of Thrones. What I mean is a decent meal, cooked by your own two hands, styled on a plate, served at a dinner table. Cooking a fancy meal can make you almost as proud as hitting a new PR on your deadlift.
Many of us are short on time and think of nice meals as a luxury. I’m guilty of this too. About 90% of my meals are eaten on the couch in front of the TV or computer. Most of my food is the same few dishes cooked over and over again.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Eating healthfully doesn’t have to mean baked chicken and steamed veggies for every lunch and dinner.
Take a chance, plan a couple days ahead, and eat something new! Invite a friend over to cook with you. Listen to your favorite Pandora station while you’re chopping. Treat yo self to a new piece of kitchen equipment you’ve been eyeing and try it out. Make it fun!
If we make cooking a relaxing treat, it can become an activity you enjoy. Even if you’re short on time, limiting your food options to recipes that take 30 minutes or less, prepping ahead of time, and using a minimal amount of easy-to-clean equipment can make learning this new skill less stressful and more pleasurable.
Try it out!
How do you make cooking an enjoyable activity?
Do you dedicate a certain day of the week or month to having dinner with friends or family?
Let us know in the comments!
PS: We’ve been adding these recipes and a few dozen more to our Nerd Fitness Academy, which has recipes, meal plans, workout plans, and the ability to complete quests and missions and level up as you get healthier. Check it out!