Saturday, June 22, 2013

Eating wild! Salmon and wild mustard greens

I get lots of dumbfounded faces when pick something from the wild and say - "here, eat this".  Just before they pop it in their mouth, I always caution people to make sure that I eat it first.  Which really, when I think about it, is one of those critical life lessons anytime anybody hands you something to eat.

We have gotten so far from our beginnings that food only seems right when it comes wrapped in plastic and bought from the grocery store.  That is changing now a bit with the growth of the "eat local" and Farmers' Markets.  Even so, eating from the wild seems scary to folks.

In response to many questions over the years, I will be sharing my best "here, eat this!" recipes occasionally as things come into season.

This is one of my favorites:  Salmon and wild mustard greens

(By the way, you can click on any of the pictures to "en-biggen".)

The mustard family is huge and edible.  Here is a good link to information about mustard weeds.

I had never figured out what the name of the mustard I was eating until I sat down to write this blog.  I believe this one is (Latin name) Sisymbrium altissimum (common name) Tumble Mustard.  I just knew for sure it was a mustard, all mustards are edible, and it was good.

Wild mustard growing in my yard

About the time the plant starts to flower, I go out and pick a big double handful of the leaves and some of the flowering tops.  Make sure to munch a few of the flowers and take a bite of a fresh leaf.  If you like the taste, collect some extra to add to your salad greens for some zip.  Bring the greens in and rinse them well in cool water.  Check of insects and any other not yumminess.

Take the clean leaves from the water and put in a lidded skillet.  Put your salmon fillets right on top.  Cover and put to medium low heat.  The fish will mostly steam to cook.

Salmon and mustard greens before cooking

I use a low heat as I find that fish cooked very slowly stays moist and doesn't get that harsh "fishy" taste.  The mustard greens slowly cook and infuse the salmon with yummy flavors.

Cooked salmon is tender and so are the greens

It depends on how thick your fish fillets are as to how long it takes.  If you aren't sure, turn off the heat and let them sit for 5 more minutes.  This is a gentle way of cooking that allows the heat to settle into the meat.  Things are more tender and juicy cooked this way.

Salmon on a bed of wild mustard greens
with sweet potato mash and lemon wedge.

Here is the plate all pretty.  The greens will be somewhat bitter.  Many times a bit of vinegar or lemon cuts the bitter and brightens the flavor.  Younger greens will be less bitter but will flavor the salmon less.

The plant I harvest has the yellow flowers.
(The white flowers are the evil bindweed.)

Don't get confused and look for the white flowers on the mustard, please.  Those shown in this picture are bindweed flowers.  I will be telling you what I do that is useful with bindweed soon, but that is another blog.

Close up of the leaves I pick to eat.

The flavor of the leaves should be, well, mustardy/radishy/spicy.  The unopened flowers look a bit like broccoli.  As I said, you can use them in a salad, but I recommend you use a mix of greens.  If you really like arugula, this is your wild green; same family, by the way. (

I am sure you could use this with other fish or even chicken.  I haven't as I like this recipe so much I haven't tried it any other way.  Let me know if you try it what you think!

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