Pan Seared Salmon w/ Coconut Curry Sauce, Banana Hash & Jerked Black Beans & Quinoa


Pan Seared Salmon w/ Coconut Curry Sauce, Banana Hash, & Jerked Black Beans & Rice

Here in Los Angeles, mornings are calling for sweaters and I’ve seen some people breaking out their boots.  I’m not there yet, although I love boot weather, but clearly fall is upon us.  However, my inspiration has brought me in another direction.  A Caribbean one.  As I was scouring my cookbooks and the internet for fall recipe inspiration, I came across this recipe from restaurateur, model, and cookbook author, B. Smith.  I had the pleasure of dining in her D.C. restaurant, which is now closed, years ago.  I remember delicious, elegant southern cuisine in an equally elegant atmosphere. 

I changed a few things with the recipe, opting for salmon instead of tuna and instead of the original pigeon peas and rice (the pigeon peas in the recipe aren't easy to find here in Los Angeles), I veered and created Jerked Black Beans and Quinoa instead.  Although I consider this a weeknight meal, there is a bit of preparing in advance.  You will want to prep the jerk seasoning and the coconut curry sauce a day ahead.   The meal will come together much quicker and the leftover sauces can be used later for tofu, chicken, fish, vegetables, and so on.

The most exciting part of this dish for me is the banana hash, which is a bit of a misnomer.  It’s plantain and it adds a subtle sweetness to the heat of this dish.  I don’t eat plaintain often as I usually fry it and honestly, that’s the only way I like to eat it. But, it was in heavy rotation growing up.  From the time I was nine, much of my childhood revolved around a lot of Caribbean cuisine.  This was in large part to my mother who met and married a man from Haiti.  I became exposed to a lot of French and Creole cuisine, so to say my gastronomic world opened up is an understatement.  Plaintain, Rice with black mushrooms, Soup Joumou (pumpkin based soup that’s out of this world), lambi (stewed conch) were all part of my weeknight/weekend meals.  My taste buds got what they needed and deserved.  For this dish, the plaintain is sautéed in coconut oil, which cuts down on the calories.

My other favorite part of this dish are the jerked black beans. They are flavorful with the right amount of heat and spice.  I love spicy food.  It's exciting and sexy to have a bit of spice in a dish.  However, I don't like my food spicy for the sake of spicy.  One should taste the flavors of the food first and the spices should be layered in to awaken and entice your taste buds.  To pleasantly get your attention.

To bring it all together, layer all your ingredients in a bowl and spoon the coconut curry sauce over the salmon.  Garnish with cilantro and parsley and dinner is served.  



Pan Seared Salmon w/ Coconut Curry Sauce, Banana Hash & Jerked Black Beans & Quinoa//serves 4
Adapted from B. Smith’s Entertaining and Cooking for Friends

pan seared salmon
4 salmon fillets
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

coconut curry sauce
1 cup homemade fish stock or bottled clam juice
1 cup canned coconut milk
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
½ cup minced scallions
2 tablespoons chopped lemon grass (optional)
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
½ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

banana hash
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped scallions
2 cups chopped ripe plaintains (about 2 medium)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

jerked black beans and quinoa
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 cups vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1-15.5 oz cans black beans
1 cup quinoa
2 tablespoons jerk seasoning (recipe below)
1 teaspoon kosher salt

jerk seasoning
1 cup coarsely chopped scallions
1 coarsely chopped dried scotch bonnet chile pepper or other hot chile pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves
¼ cup lime juice
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

Start by making your jerk seasoning.  Place the jerk seasoning ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, and process until a smooth paste forms.  You may need to add a tablespoon of water at a time to form the paste.  Transfer the seasoning to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.  Or, cover and refrigerate for up to a week for later use.

Next, prepare the jerked black beans and quinoa.  Combine the quinoa in a saucepan with 2 cups of water and salt and bring to a boil. Cover the saucepan and simmer the quinoa until the water has absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy, about 15 minutes.  Next prepare the jerked black beans by sautéing onions over medium heat until softened.  Add the black beans, vegetable stock, bay leaves and jerk seasoning.  Cover and cook for 15 minutes.  Remove the bay leaves.  Combine the black beans with the quinoa.  Stir to incorporate and set aside.

To prepare the banana hash, add 2 tablespoons coconut oil and sauté the bell pepper for 2 minutes over medium heat.  Add the scallions and the plantains.  Continue to sauté for 10 minutes, or until the plantains are soft.  Stir in the salt and pepper and set aside.

Next, prepare the salmon with coconut curry sauce.  Combine all the sauce ingredients in a medium size saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove the pan from the heat and strain the sauce through a sieve, pressing as much of the sauce through as possible.  Return the sauce to a clean saucepan and keep warm. Rinse the salmon fillets and pat them dry with paper towels.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, then add the salmon fillets, skin side down.  You can cook the salmon pieces two at a time.  Press firmly in place for 10 seconds, using the back of flexible spatula.  This prevents the skin from buckling.  Cook, pressing gently on back of fillets occasionally until skin releases easily from pan, about 4 minutes.  If there is resistance with the skin, continue to cook until it lifts easily.  Flip salmon over and cook for another 4-5 minutes (or to taste). Repeat with the remaining pieces of salmon.

To assemble, place jerked beans and quinoa in a bowl, along with the banana hash.  Place a salmon fillet on top and spoon a pool of Coconut Curry Sauce in each bowl. Garnish with cilantro or parsley. Serve immediately.

Smoked Salmon, Dandelion Green, Spinach Frittata w/ Ricotta

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!  I made this magnificent Smoked Salmon, Dandelion Green, Spinach Frittata and Ricotta with my mother in mind.  She adores frittata’s and equally loves making them.  When I moved back in with her to complete school, I remember venturing downstairs to her kitchen and seeing this omelet-like dish cut in wedges on a serving plate.  I recall calling it an omelet at which point, she quizzically looked at me and said, “You’ve never had a frittata before?  Aren’t you the food person?” Yep, that’s my mama!  I remember it being cooked to perfection...custardy, eggy and cheesy.  Yum! So, I thought it was fitting to create this recipe and dedicate it to her.

My mom inspired within me a love, passion and curiosity for food.  I remember trips to New York (New Jersey native) as a pre-teen and experiencing all my “food firsts” with her.  My first time having sushi, eating at a French restaurant, and eating dim sum.  As I got older, we would continue these culinary field trips in the city, but this time I was the point person.  Our nights in New York would always end at Rocco’s Pastry Shop and Espresso Cafe on Bleecker St. indulging in a cannoli and espresso.  These days we swap recipes over the phone or when I’m visiting New Jersey, we “waste our time” in her kitchen cooking whatever.

Love you mom! Happy Mother’s Day.


Smoked Salmon, Dandelion Green, Spinach Frittata and Ricotta//serves 8

1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 cup dandelion greens, coarsely chopped
1 cup spinach, coarsely chopped
8 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup ricotta
Salt and Pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 375’ degrees.  In a well-seasoned, oven proof pan, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes or until translucent.  Add the greens and sauté until wilted.  Add the eggs and drop the ricotta in balls in the egg mixture.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook on top of the stove until the edges and bottom start to set, about 5 minutes. Transfer pan to the oven and bake until set, about 10 minutes.  Remove frittata from the oven.  Slice into wedges and serve hot.