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Tilapia with Andrea Aukrust’s Spiced Cucumber Mayonnaise

April 12, 2011
By Wendy Monro - Food Writer , The Journal

This year has taught me and countless other people how to be more frugal.

There are always blessings, which come from these lessons.

Sometimes when I am thinking about what recipe to make for my article, I am limited to what is actually in my fridge at the time. I don't always have the money to choose something new and run out to the store to get everything I need. This has made me more creative in the kitchen and I am grateful for that.

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The finished tilapia with Andrea’s spiced cucumber mayonnaise.

Recently, my friend Andrea commented on a post I placed on my Facebook page: www.facebookcom/simplyfoodify. I wrote about how I am always looking for new salmon ideas and recipes. She commented that she has an incredible cucumber sauce recipe for me to try. I was so excited. I wrote back, "yes, please!"

Andrea sent me the recipe to prepare for my family.

The recipe reminded me of when Claud and I first moved to California together from England.

Fact Box

Andrea's Recipe

Mix 1 Tbsp. Dijon-style mustard and 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice, spread on 4 salmon fillets, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes

Spiced Cucumber Mayonnaise:

Served cold on top of broiled or grilled Salmon:

1 Tbsp. Dijon-style mustard

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

3/4 cup real mayo (hellman's light mayo works well too)

1/3 cup peeled, seeded and diced cucumber

1/4 cup diced red onion

1 tsp. dried dill weed

1 small clove garlic, finely minced

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Mix ingredients and store in fridge in a covered container to allow flavors to blend.

* I usually double this recipe and add some crushed red pepper. This sauce is great on top of baked potatoes also! Enjoy!

We didn't have much money. However, when we did have a few extra dollars to splurge, we would order dinner delivered from a local restaurant.

Archie and Ella were tiny and I was pregnant, so we didn't eat out much. I always ordered the salmon with a creamy cucumber sauce. It came with dauphinoise potatoes and spinach. After reading Andrea's recipe, all I could think of was decadence and luxury.

I smiled at the thought of how it would taste and the memory of those times. I was so excited to make it.

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Unfortunately, I didn't have any salmon at the time, or dill. I also didn't have any potatoes or spinach.

So, I looked in my refrigerator and decided I could make due with the tilapia and cilantro. For the side, I had some leeks and quinoa.

I have had this bag of quinoa for almost a year.

My friend, Rachel Sear, gave it to me to try just before we left Minnesota for Nevada.

It has been sitting there patiently in my pantry for many months. I don't know what I was waiting for because it is now my new favorite "grain".

I absolutely love it. I have been eating it every day since. I am crazy like that.

Although it is most commonly considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard.

It is a recently rediscovered ancient "grain" once considered "the gold of the Incas" who recognized its value in increasing the stamina of their warriors.

Not only is quinoa high in protein, but the protein it supplies is a complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids.

Also, it a good choice for vegetarians concerned about adequate protein intake (or mothers of vegetarians concerned about their daughter's protein intake).

Anyway, you must try quinoa and substitute it for rice. It is so healthy and extremely tasty. It's kind of like cous cous.

The night I made Andrea's great salmon sauce, I was cooking dinner for my dad and Claud who are not really huge fans of fish.

They will eat it if they have to; but, it's not their first choice. Claud came home from work famished. He had not eaten any lunch that day. I was really nervous that he wouldn't be pleased with what I was making. In fact, he walked into the kitchen and I shooed him away. At the time, I had no idea what quinoa tasted like either and worried we would all hate it. Once everyone sat down, I brought out the plates. I had placed a layer of quinoa with a bed of sauted leeks on top. Then, I placed a piece of tilapia with the creamy cucumber sauce on top. It looked very pretty, especially with the sprig of cilantro I added to make it look lovely.

Well, my dad and Claud sunk their forks in and took a few big bites. "Honey, this is fantastic," came from Claud, followed up by, "it really is, Wendy. It is delicious," from my dad. Those words were like music to my ears. I don't think they would have enjoyed it so much without Andrea's sauce. I know the sauce made it extra special. I made a lot of it and placed the bowl on the table in case anyone wanted more. We did!

We all kept adding more to the fish. It was creamy and cold on top of warm and tasty fish. The cucumber added just the right texture. I think dill would have really made it even better. Thank you, Andrea. We all loved it. Next time I get some salmon, I am going to try it again.



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