Norwegian Salmon with Watercress Nage

This week, it’s all about good for you ingredients that are good for the world too!

Happy 2019! As we begin 2019 and the start of a new year, the trend to clean up our diets and improve on our exercise routines typically takes over. While sometimes helpful, I think instead of making health-oriented goals for the New Year, maybe let’s focus on the climate of the world? I like to think of it as a time to begin anew, celebrate all the great things we have in life and look to see how we can improve, help those in need and be kinder to rest of the world. This may be a bit ideological, but one can dream right? 

That being said, to begin the New Year, I wanted to bring you this simple yet beautiful dish that’s full of good for you ingredients and is good for the world too. How you may ask? Well, this is a two-part story. The dish this week is my Norwegian Salmon with Watercress Nage. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of travelling to Norway for Season 14 Simply Ming with the Norwegian Seafood Council and had the privilege of being able to see how Norwegian Salmon is grown. While farmed fish used to have a negative connotation, I learned all about the safe farming practices, how it’s better for the environment, and got to taste the salmon right on the spot. It would be a shame to go without saying that this is some of the best salmon I’ve had. The salmon is fed a specific formulated feed that helps optimize the salmon’s nutrition. You can tell when you taste it how carefully the fish were raised and how each part of their life cycle was thoughtfully curated so that they are raised properly. I can’t say enough great things about Norwegian Salmon. A quick trick-when shopping for fish is it should never be smelly. Rather seafood should smell like the sea, not pungent fish. 

The other important ingredient in this dish is watercress. Did you know that the two largest consumers of watercress worldwide are Great Britain and China? Other than fun facts, watercress is an incredibly unique vegetable. It ranks among the highest on nutritional scales meaning that per serving, it has the most bioavailable vitamins and minerals. I’ll let Becca tell you more about watercress nutrition below, but when I learned about it, I was more than impressed. I also had the chance to visit a watercress farm in Florida owned by a watercress company, B&W Watercress. I was also blown away with the attention to detail and how environmentally friendly it is. This particular company has farming operations that covers eight states, which allows them to grow watercress at its peak. Additionally, each farm utilizes a special water regeneration and recirculation system so that runoff from the farm is limited and helps save water resources and replenish the water table. Not only is this watercress grown thoughtfully for the environment, but it’s also delicious. Haven’t tried it before? Think of it like the slightly spicier cousin to spinach. It’s perfect for salads, soups, stir-fry, smoothies, omelets, and so much more. 

While I recognize I had incredibly unique experiences in being able to visit the sites where these food items are grown, I also love that I can help tell other show great these products are and how they are good for you and good for the environment. The fact that both of these products are full of good for you ingredients and good for the world, inspired me to create this dish- Norwegian Salmon with Watercress Nage to showcase the freshness and quality of the ingredients. As noted below in the directions, please be careful when blending the soup. You’ll be adding the piping hot broth to the blender and combining it with the watercress and butter while hot. It’s imperative to keep the lid off so that you don’t have an explosion of hot soup all over your kitchen. If you are afraid of no lid or don’t have a low enough setting on your blender, try a kitchen towel on top to help prevent spatter. Here’s Becca, my PR/Marketing guru and Registered Dietitian to share why both salmon and watercress are some of the best foods!

Notes from Becca
Thanks Chef! And Happy New Year! I love this dish for so many reasons. First, it’s a beautiful dish that is also impressive to serve for dinner parties. And of course second, it really is loaded with so many good for you ingredients and is good for the world too. Both the salmon and watercress are grown in an environmentally friendly way so that we can feel good about eating them and not just in a “this is good for my health” kind of way. The thoughtfulness that was put into growing both the salmon and watercress is incredible and I love the attention to detail so that the environment is minimally affected by our food growth. Now onto the good stuff. Salmon isn’t just a great lean protein. It contains high amounts of Omega 3 PUFA’s (poly unsaturated fatty acids). These long named fatty acids are not just good for you but help produce anti-inflammatory effects once broken down in the body. Fun fact, they help decrease inflammation by decreasing signaling sent between cells. In addition to omega 3 PUFA’s, salmon has contains high amounts of vitamin B13, vitamin D, niacin, choline, Vitamin B6, phosphorus, and selenium. All of these are important for a wide variety of body functions including brain health, inflammation prevention, protein metabolism, bone health, metabolism of nutrients and cell membrane structure. Talk about a serious win-win for all. 

 Eat Well with Ming: For a smaller leafy green vegetable, watercress packs a serious punch when it comes to nutrition. Weight for weight watercress has more vitamin C than oranges, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, more B vitamins than black currants and is one of the riches sources of carotenoids. Did you know that Hippocrates used watercress to treat patients? He literally used food, as medicine- can’t get much cooler than that. Ok, moving on. Watercress is also low in calories and is very versatile in the culinary world. Use it in sandwiches, soups, salads, omelets, smoothies and so much more. But first, try it in the dish below!

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 Norwegian Salmon with Watercress Nage
Serves 4
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, please 2 teaspoons for salmon
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 quart chicken stock
4 4-ounce pieces of salmon, skin on 
4 cups packed watercress
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice and zest from 1 lemon 

1.    in a stock pot, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat on medium-low heat. Add the onions once the oil is hot and begin to caramelize. Once they are just caramelized, add the garlic and ginger. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until the garlic and ginger start to become fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. 
2.    Add the chicken stock and mix well. Bring heat up to medium and allow to come to a simmer. Reduce the liquid until the volume has decreased by half. Remove from heat. 
3.    While the liquid is reducing, season the salmon with salt and pepper on both sides. In a sauté pan, add the 2 teaspoons of oil and bring to medium heat. When the sauté pan is hot, add the salmon skin side down. 
4.     Let the salmon cook about 3-5 minutes, watching as the skin turns crispy and the flesh goes from translucent to opaque. As the color of the flesh changes and reaches the top corners, flip and continue cooking for another 3-5 minutes. Remove the sauté pan from heat. The salmon should be just about cooked, press the sides to check that it flakes.
5.    Add the hot broth to a blender, do not place top on, instead carefully start the blender on low as the broth is very hot. Slowly add watercress and butter into the blender. You’ll slowly see the liquid turn to a nice bright green. Blend until smooth and all the watercress and butter has been added and broken down into a smooth soup. 
6.    To plate, add the salmon skin side down to soup plates and carefully spoon in the nage around the salmon. Garnish with extra watercress, lemon juice and zest. Eat while hot and enjoy!

Peace and Good Eating,

Chef Ming Tsai  

*Chef Ming Tsai is partnered with B&W Watercress. All opinions are Chef Tsai’s*

Rebecca Noren