At GreenWood the Holiday Season begins with the Winter Solstice or Hanukkah and continues on past the New Year, but Christmas Eve is the fulcrum point of the season. I usually cook a massive meal: appetizers and main courses accompanied by all manner of libations, and this year was no different. We started with an appetizer of grilled shrimp marinated in a rum, butter, lime and pepper concoction, then moved on to baked sockeye salmon in a tangy sauce. White jasmine rice and brussels sprouts complete the tableau, accented with various Christmas tunes and occasional fighting between overexcited children.
This meal involves a few stages of preperation but once it's all in motion everything comes together in under an hour; make sure you have your own libations handy, since you'll be doing a decent imitation of Squiddly-Diddly in just a few moments. These portions will serve 4, with a hearty salad it will serve up to 6.
Mister C's Grilled Rum Butter Citrus Shrimp2 pounds Large, Huge, Colossal or other Monster Shrimp, fresh
4oz Spiced Rum (I like good old Cap'n Morgan Silver)
4 Tbsp Melted Butter
1 Tbsp Cracked or Coarsely Ground Peppercorns
1 Tbsp Ground or Grated Ginger
1/4 Cup Lime Juice
Depending upon your preference you can leave the shells on the shrimp or peel and devein them, I left them in the shell this time because I'm lazy and it was Christmas Eve. Mix the rum, butter, ginger and pepper and pour over the shrimp in a spill-proof container with a good lid (you'll be shaking it up to distribute the marinade), but don't add the lime juice just yet unless you want ceviche, and give a few good shakes to get the marinade on all the shrimp. I let the shrimp marinate in the mix for at least an hour at room temperature (hence the need for fresh shrimp), shaking or stirring every 15-20 minutes or so to make sure the concoction gets to all the shrimp. While the shrimp is marinating you can make the Sassy Sauce for the salmon:
Mister C's Sassy Sockeye Salmon
Filet of Sockeye Salmon (Wild-Caught, at least 3 lbs)
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 Cup Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
1/4 Cup Chopped Scallions (mostly greens)
2 Tbsp Fresh Grated Ginger or Ginger Paste
2 Tbsp Fresh Chopped or Minced Garlic
1 Tbsp Sesame Oil (more if you like the sesame to be dominant)
4 Tbsp Honey
Place the salmon in an appropriately-sized baking dish then combine all the sauce ingredients in a medium mixing bowl or large (2+cup) measuring cup; I put the mix in the microwave for around 20 seconds to warm it up and make the honey a bit easier to blend. This makes about 12oz of sauce- I divide it by half, setting aside 6oz or so to add for the final stage. Pour half of the sauce over the salmon, making sure to coat all of the fish, cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
While the salmon is marinating get your grill or broiler going, if grilling set the flame medium-high. I usually line the grill with foil for several reasons but mostly for ease of cleanup and to ensure more even cooking. Time for the all-important cocktail to make the evening bright, you can be a big tot with your eyes all-aglow and find it easy to sleep tonight... go ahead and preheat your oven to 375F so you can segue from shrimp to salmon without a pause. Now, some chefs with book-learning advise us to discard the shrimp marinade, but to me that's a waste of rum and butter so I keep it on hand to add to the grill while the shrimp is cooking- another reason I use foil when grilling the shimp! Place the shrimp on the grill, add the rest of the marinade and simmer/grill them about 2-3 minutes each side if they're peeled, add a minute if they're in the shell; it really doesn't take longer than 8 minutes in any case unless you wish to have very tough shrimp. The key is to grill them to medium at most so you can still taste the juices and marinade. Take them off the grill and place into a bowl or covered dish to keep them warm while you're baking the salmon, drizzle the lime juice over them and give a stir. For an appetizer simply move them to a serving dish and introduce your dinner companions to your culinary creativity.
Pop the salmon in the oven, uncovered, and bake for 15-20 minutes- the aroma will drive you mad, and bring your dinner participants into the kitchen. Chase them away, for you are not finished. When the salmon takes on that distinctive "flaky" look, add the remaining sauce to the fish and turn the oven to broil. Broil for no more than 5 minutes, to carmelize the honey and add that finishing touch to a grand and elegant piece of fish. Take the salmon from the oven, capture the sauce for the rice and drizzling. You are done but for the compliments. I served this with jasmine rice, brussels sprouts and a good red wine. For dessert we enjoyed Ashley's Hot Buttered Rum, while the children had hot chocolate. Preare this for your next festive occasion and let your admirers know you got it from Cookin' With Mister C-