Tuesday, August 09, 2022 | Muharram 10, 1444 H
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The Simplest Salmon and Other Easy Recipes

Earlier this year, one of our NYT Cooking editors, Nikita Richardson, suggested that we do a package of recipes for true beginner cooks, a step-by-step program for people who can barely boil water. The recipes needed to be great, because not only do we want you to learn to cook, we also want you to love it.

Now, at the end of graduation season, as all sorts of fledgling cooks are entering the wider world, we’re here with 10 beginner recipes for you or the people in your life who could use them most.

Five of those beginner recipes are below, and I think you should look at them even if you’re very comfortable in the kitchen. Who doesn’t like having simple dishes and brilliant techniques at their fingertips?

Broiled Salmon With

Mustard and Lemon

In this simple salmon recipe, a quick stint under the broiler transforms smooth Dijon mustard into a savory, caramelized crust, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice adds just the right brightness and tang to the rich, sweet fish. Covering the baking pan with a protective layer of aluminum foil helps with the cleanup, meaning you can cook dinner and wash up in under 30 minutes.

By Melissa Clark

Yield: 2 servings

Total time: 15 minutes


2 (6- to 8-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets, each about 1-inch thick

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal), plus more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Lemon wedges, for serving


1. Position one oven rack 6 inches from the broiler heat source then heat the broiler. Season the salmon fillets all over with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a couple of grinds of pepper and place them on an aluminum foil-lined sheet pan, skin side down.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the oil and mustard until well mixed. Brush the tops and sides of the salmon with this mustard mixture.

3. Broil until the salmon is opaque with a deep brown crust, about 6 to 8 minutes for medium-rare. (The center of the fillets will be dark pink, if you pierce one with a paring knife and take a look.) If your fillets are thinner, reduce cooking time by 1 to 2 minutes. If you prefer more well-done fish, add 1 or 2 minutes to the cooking time.

4. Squeeze a lemon wedge all over the cooked salmon fillets, then serve salmon with more lemon wedges on the side.

Vegetable Tofu Curry

This one-pot vegetarian meal comes together quickly and leftovers keep for days. Creamy coconut milk is made up of fat and liquid from pressed coconut meat and this recipe delivers its full range of flavors. When you melt the solids from a can of coconut milk and keep cooking until the liquid evaporates, the oil eventually separates out and delivers toasty nuttiness. Here, onion — any kind — tenderizes in that tasty fat, and curry powder becomes more fragrant in it. Tofu soaks up the curry sauce while vegetables steam over the mixture, then everything gets stirred together. Experiment with whatever vegetables you have on hand, cooking them until tender.

By Genevieve Ko

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

Total time: 20 minutes


2 broccoli heads, 8 ounces green beans or 2 cups frozen peas, or a combination

1 (14- to 16-ounce) container firm tofu

1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk

1 medium onion, chopped

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon curry powder, plus more to taste

Cooked rice or other grains or noodles, for serving

Hot sauce, for serving (optional)


1. If using broccoli, trim the ends of the stems and discard, then cut the stems off near the base of the florets. Cut off the thick peel around the stems, then cut the stems into 1/2-inch slices. Cut the broccoli crowns into small florets. Drain the tofu and cut into 1-inch cubes.

2. Open the can of coconut milk and spoon off an inch or so of the hard white solid part into a large saucepan with a lid. (If the milk is all liquid, add a few spoonfuls.) Turn the heat to medium-high. When the solids melt, add the onion and broccoli stems, if using, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. The coconut milk liquid should have evaporated, so the onions should be sizzling in coconut oil and the milk solids should be brown and smell toasty. Scrape up any bits sticking to the bottom.

3. Turn the heat down to medium-low, add the curry powder and stir until evenly mixed, about 10 seconds. Add the remaining coconut milk, stir and bring to a simmer. Add the tofu and spread the cubes in an even layer, then top with the broccoli florets or other vegetables, sprinkle with salt and cover with the lid. Cook until the vegetables are just tender but still bright green, 5 to 7 minutes.

4. Gently stir so the vegetables are also coated in sauce. Taste and stir in more curry powder, salt and pepper if you’d like. Serve hot over rice or other grains or noodles, with hot sauce if you want.

Tuna Mayo Rice Bowl

This homey dish takes comforting canned tuna to richer, silkier heights. Mayonnaise helps to hold the tuna together and toasted sesame oil lends incomparable nuttiness. You can adjust the seasonings to your taste: Use as much or as little soy sauce as you’d like for a savory accent. You can lean into the nuttiness of this rice bowl by sowing the top with toasted sesame seeds, or amp up the savoriness with furikake or scallions. A staple of home cooking in Hawaii and South Korea (where it is sometimes called deopbap), this simple meal is a workday workhorse.

By Eric Kim

Yield: 1 serving

Total time: 5 minutes


1 (5-ounce) can tuna (preferably any variety stored in oil), well drained

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

1 cup cooked white rice (preferably short- or medium-grain)

Toasted white or black sesame seeds, furikake or chopped scallions, for topping (optional)


1. In a small bowl, stir the tuna, mayonnaise, sesame oil and soy sauce to combine.

2. Add the white rice to a bowl and spoon the tuna mixture on top. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds, furikake or scallions, if using.

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