Delicious Lent

Escabeche de SalmonPublished on Latino American Today, April 2014, -article and recipe by Amalia Moreno-Damgaard. Cuaresma or Lent is a time of renewal and opportunity to evaluate ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually, and to make a conscious effort to refresh one’s approach to love and life.

There are many ways to express love in life and one of my favorites is through delicious healthy food. I relish the time I spend in the kitchen creating scrumptious cuisine for my clients, friends and family because cooking for me is a religious experience. It is also a fun and easy way to bond with people.

Lenten foods abide by the rules of the church for all Christians. Fish and seafood provide such a great opportunity to discover new foods, learn to cook new dishes, learn new techniques, and explore new flavors. As a bonus, fish and seafood are some of the healthiest foods you can eat.

In countries where seafood and fish consumption is high, there are fewer incidents of depression, dementia, cancer, and arthritis because of their diet. Omega 3 fatty acids, the good fat, mainly present in salmon and other fish, spinach, walnuts, flax seed and others, are vital for health because they can help lower the risk of heart disease. The US lags behind in fish consumption in comparison to other parts of the world, making us more prone to these diseases.

Lent is a great time to refresh and renew our health and cooking repertoire. Cooking fish and seafood is easy and faster than other foods. It can be as simple as brushing the fish with a little oil, seasoning it with salt and pepper, and cooking it on a skillet, broiler, steamer, or grill, and making a quick pan sauce for it. The key is to know that one fish filet cooks very fast. How fast? It could be 3 to 5 minutes depending on size and thickness.

Here is a quick and easy recipe to help you lift your spirits this Lent season.

Happy Easter!


Pan-Seared Salmon with Peppers, Olives, and Capers Herb Vinaigrette

Serves 4 to 6 people

4 to 6 fillets of fresh salmon, sole, corvina, cod, or tilapia (4 to 6 ounces each), rinsed and patted dry
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil

Escabeche (Chunky Sauce)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup julienned onions
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 fresh bay leaves
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
1/4 teaspoon crumbled oregano
1/3 cup julienned poblano pepper
1/3 cup julienned red bell pepper
1/2 cup sliced Spanish olives stuffed with pimentos
2 tablespoons Spanish capers
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Toque Final (Finishing Touch)
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

1. Season the fish generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Dust lightly with flour. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and fry the fish 3 to 4 minutes on one side to develop a medium-brown crust. Turn the fillets and panfry the other side until fish appears opaque, flakes easily, and is tender and juicy (2 to 3 minutes). Transfer the fish to a dish, keep it warm, and set it aside.

2. In the same skillet, make the escabeche. Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions, garlic, and herbs for about 2 minutes. Add the peppers, olives, capers, salt, and pepper and sauté 1 1/2 minutes. To finish, turn off the heat, add the vinegar and parsley, and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed.

3. Serve the fish topped with the escabeche.

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