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Eric Akis: Fresh ingredients inspire glazed salmon feast

Homemade spice rub comes in handy for dish of glazed fish over braised cabbage
Glazed salmon is roasted and served on braised cabbage and corn. ERIC AKIS

I sometimes shop for ingredients without a clear plan on how I’ll transform them into a meal. Such was the case last week, when one morning I came home with some B.C. salmon fillets and locally grown cabbage and corn.

I bought them because they all look splendidly fresh and appealing and I thought I should be able to use them to create a late summer dinner. So later that day I put my thinking cap on and came up with a plan.

For the cabbage, I decided to slice and sauté it with some onions in a pot and braise it in stock for 10 minutes. I mixed in some fresh corn kernels, that I cut off one of the cobs of corn I purchased. I then continued braising the cabbage until it and the corn were tender, creating a simple, but appealing side dish for the salmon.

For the fish, I used a homemade spice mix. I make my own salmon rub and keep a jar of it at the ready in my spice/herb drawer for occasions like this when I’m in need of a quick, but tasty way to season it. My spice rub is a sweet, smoky, nicely spiced mixture that when sprinkled and rubbed on salmon fillets nicely glazes and flavours the fish when roasted.

Once plated, you squeeze the fish with the lemon slices you garnished it with, adding a tangy taste that compliments the ingredients in the salmon rub. To round out the meal, I served the salmon and braised cabbage and corn with boiled, buttered miniature potatoes. If desired, you could also flavour the potatoes with a chopped or snipped fresh herb, to taste, such as dill, parsley, chives or tarragon.

Brown Sugar Spice Glazed Salmon on Braised Cabbage and Corn

Salmon fillets, seasoned with a flavourful spice rub, are roasted and served on braised cabbage and corn. Recipe could be doubled or furthered expanded.

Preparation: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 31 to 34 minutes

Makes: two servings

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup thinly sliced onion

2 cups thinly sliced green cabbage

1 small garlic clove, minced

3/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock or broth

1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (see Note)

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 (about 5- to 6-oz./140- to 170-gram) salmon fillets, such as sockeye, coho or steelhead

4 to 6 tsp Salmon Rub, or to taste (divided; see recipe below)

• lemon slices and parsley sprigs, for garnish

Place oil in a small pot set over medium, medium-high heat. Add cabbage and onions and cook and stir until softened, about four minutes. Add garlic and stock (or broth) and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook ten minutes. Mix in the corn, cover again and cook five minutes more, or until cabbage is tender. Remove from the heat, uncover, season with salt and pepper, and then set cabbage aside for now.

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a small baking pan with parchment paper and set in the salmon, skin-side-down. Sprinkle and rub the top of each piece of fish with two or three teaspoons of the salmon rub. Roast salmon 12 to 15 minutes, or until just cooked through and the brown sugar has melted and glazed the fish.

When salmon is almost cooked, set cabbage back over the heat and make hot again. When salmon is cooked, divide and set the some braised cabbage and corn on each of two dinner plates. Set a piece of salmon on the braised cabbage and corn on each plate, garnish with lemon slices and parsley sprigs, and serve.

Note: One medium shucked cob of corn should yield the 1/2-cup of fresh corn kernels needed here. To cut the kernels off a cob, after shucking and thoroughly removing the silk from the corn, grab onto its stem end. Now set the tip of the cob in the centre of a wide, shallow bowl, and use a sharp paring knife, or a corn peeler/striped tool, to cut and slide the kernels off the cob and into the bowl.

Salmon Rub

An aromatic, flavourful mix of brown sugar, spices and sage you can rub on salmon fillets, salmon steaks and whole sides of salmon before roasting them. Recipe could be doubled or furthered expanded.

Preparation: five minutes

Cooking time: none

Makes: scant 1/2 cup

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp + 1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp coarse sea salt

1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp ground sage

Combine ingredients in a small jar. Use what you need for the salmon recipe above, and then seal and store the rest away in your spice/herb drawer or cupboard until you need some again.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.