I have a confession of sorts. It may not come as that much of a surprise, but I pretty much philosophically believe that most things, savoury things, are easily improved with the addition of olive oil, lemon zest and garlic. It’s a magical combination that serves all manner of things. Potatoes? Check. Steak? Check. Chicken? Come on now, that’s too easy. Pasta? For sure! Fish and seafood … sorry, what was that? I couldn’t hear you over the sound of my own gurgling salivation.
Sometimes when I’m cooking something, just a weekday dinner or other quick meal I stop myself and try to convince my palate that I’m being too simplistic, too obvious, or at times, too bold with flavour. But really, what is wrong with a classic? Nothing! The old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” comes to mind. I really do use it as my go-to flavour combination on a very regular basis. It’s also virtually a guarantee that at any moment of my life I have all three of those ingredients on hand – they are that essential. Am I in a rut? Nah. It’s more likely I’m just an addict when it comes to that perfectly pungent combination.
It’s certainly important to cook what you like and to like what you cook. When you start with a simple foundation you can effortlessly elaborate or substitute. For instance, I might and chopped green onion to my olive oil, lemon zest and garlic mixture. I might add chili, or herbs or curry powder. I might use it as a marinade or as a dressing, sometimes both, or maybe I might stir it into hot rice just before serving. What matters is that it’s a foolproof way to bring familiar flavours to a whole host of ingredients and depending on the other elements or cooking method, they will come out differently. Beyond all that, it’s the simplest thing to whip up and saves you fussing and fretting over what to season something with. Yes, I admit it, I use it universally and not always very creatively, but it is always just right.
Grilled Salmon with Lemon and Garlic
enough marinade for 4-6 1″ salmon steaks
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large garlic clove, grated or minced
Juice and zest of half a lemon
8 green onions (scallions) finely chopped
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Slather generously on both sides of the fish steaks. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before grilling over medium-high heat, turning only once, 12-15 minutes total time. The fish is done when it flakes easily and is just barely opaque at its centre.