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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Experiments with Gousto #3: Honey-Soy Glazed Salmon & Summing Up

Regular readers of this blog will no doubt have come to the conclusion that I'm pretty fond of salmon (always assuming I haven't already outright stated that I am). I've also tried to do a glazed salmon on two previous occasions already, and it's never quite gone according to plan. For whatever reason - whether something I'm doing wrong, or perhaps some quirk of my fan-assisted oven - a glaze never actually glazes, it always remains a liquid of approximately the same viscosity as when it first went into the oven. I was hoping that, by following this recipe, I'd break my run of bad luck but, sadly, it was not to be. The Gousto honey-soy glaze, if anything, became less viscous while in the oven... though, on the upside, it worked very well as a marinade - the salmon soaked up more than I would have expected. It is clear from this recipe that something has always been lacking in my previous preparations of a glaze, but I'll have to keep trying and experimenting with other recipes, cooking methods and timings.

On that subject, it was also nice to have a timing for the oven which actually gave the correct result - salmon which was neither undercooked and still slightly raw inside, nor overcooked and dry. I'd have to say that this was the best bit of salmon I've ever cooked - utterly melt-in-the-mouth succulent, and with a subtle kick from the honey-soy sauce and its little chunks of ginger. I even broke my tradition of scraping off the skin and leaving it on the plate, largely due to having been pleasantly surprised, not too long ago, by crispy salmon skin nori at Yo! Sushi.

This is also the first time - in my life - that I've ever made mashed potatoes from scratch. It's actually a point of some amusement (not to say outright ridicule) among both my family and my girlfriend's that I generally rely on instant mash, despite the simplicity of making it fresh. I think I did reasonably well with all the vegetable peeling required by all of these recipes, but I was especially pleased by the way the mash turned out, despite not giving it my fullest attention all the way through.

I think the mash could probably have used some more of the wasabi paste - the half-pot I used certainly added some zing, but it wasn't consistent throughout the mash. To be honest, though, by that point I was a little rushed, and I found that some of the mash had started sticking to the saucepan. Further delays to mix in more of the wasabi would probably have ended up burning some of the mash and, seriously, what kind of muppet burns mashed potato?

Courgette seemed like quite a strange addition to this allegedly Japanese cuisine (that's what it claims on the front of the card), but it's certainly no stranger than a dollop of mashed potato, with or without added wasabi paste. The instructions for chopping it up seemed counterintuitive: quarter lengthways, then cut into 3cm pieces? The card suggests there's a tutorial on Gousto's YouTube account, but the only courgette video I found was how to make it into ribbons... Perhaps the chopping video will come along later.

I did forget to sprinkle on the toasted sesame seeds at the end but, let's face it, I've made at least one cock-up on both of the other recipes, so I'm just glad it was such a minor omission on this one! It also feels like a rather stupid mistake, considering the fun I had toasting them, and watching several sesame seeds make a bid for freedom from the frying pan. I'll probably be finding the damned things all over my kitchen for the next few weeks.

The last few steps of the recipe required some overlap, and splitting my attention between the frying courgette chunks, the boiling potato chunks (and, later, the mashing of said chunks), all while keeping an eye on the time for the salmon in the oven. While I've had to split my attention between several cooking tasks in the past, I'm neither comfortable nor confident in doing so... but, on this occasion, it didn't go too wrong.

In choosing this recipe, I'd made something that was wholly for me - my girlfriend had to fend for herself on Sunday evening, so this was also a test of how well we'd work together in the kitchen while engaged on entirely separate tasks... and I think we did rather well. It did take me rather longer than it should have - I think a little over an hour rather than the estimated 40 minutes - but I suspect my speed on certain tasks would improve with practice.
Third time lucky on photos? Although my presentation is perhaps a little lacking...

So, summing up, I'd say my experience with Gousto was very positive. The step-by-step guide to each recipe was clear and easy to follow, even if some of the steps seemed to me to be out of their proper sequence. The results of each recipe are unquestionably excellent, and I'm very keen to try my hand at another set of recipes... though that'll probably have to wait until I have some time off work, because I've not once managed to keep to the estimated timing for the recipes, meaning I was eating later than usual on each occasion. Their setup - and the whole delivery angle - doesn't quite suit my current schedule/lifestyle, but I can see it being exceptionally useful to some folks, not least because it makes it so easy to break out of the rut of ready meals or excessive weekly repetition.

There were only two real problems with the three recipes I picked out for this experiment: on the very first recipe, a redundant ingredient was listed and supplied, and on that same recipe, a hole was punched in the card right in the middle of a block of text. As long as those sorts of problem are isolated incidents, Gousto is a service which is easy to recommend. Every other problem I had with the recipes was of my own making - the frequency with which I forgot to add things was a little ridiculous, and I wasn't quite prepared for some of the work required, in terms of both kitchen equipment and culinary experience.

As as aside, I may not have had a 'Fishy Friday' last week, but I had a very fishy weekend - trout for lunch and sushi (not home made) for dinner on Saturday, then salmon for dinner on Sunday. I possibly could have organised things for a bit more variety but the fishy recipes were the highlight of last week's batch from my point of view.

If you think you might fancy giving Gousto a try (and are within the UK mainland), please feel free to use my referral code GORDO45552 for an introductory discount. Yes, that also gets me a discount on my next order, but further deliveries are currently on hold while I complete this first set of recipes and consider how this system fits in with my current... erm... 'lifestyle'.

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