On April 19, the last week of Lent, I decided to try out one of the fish dishes in my crock pot cookbooks. I've avoided doing these before because fish cooks quickly in the crock pot, so it's not one of those easy ones where you can turn it on before you leave for the day and come back to a fully cooked meal. But, since it cooks so quickly, fish recipes are ones that you can make when you get home (as long as you don't get home too late). In order to make this recipe, I made an effort to leave school right at 5:00 p.m. so we could eat around 7:00-ish.
I had picked the Southwestern Salmon Po' Boys recipe from the Crock-Pot Incredibly Easy Recipes cookbook, but I decided to make a half recipe because it says that it serves four and I'm not a big fan of leftover fish. I did some of the prep work the night before: slicing the red and green bell pepper and onion. On the way home from school I stopped to get salmon so it would be as fresh as possible. Now, I'm in the Midwest and going to get the fish was the first time I really missed living on a coast. During Lent especially, my mom used to go to a nearby fish market to pick up fresh fish on the way home from work for our dinner. Although our grocery store gets shipments of fish every day, it's just not quite the same.
Anyway, you season the salmon with salt, pepper, and "zesty Southwest chipotle seasoning." That latter ingredient was difficult to find because there was no "chipotle" seasoning. What I ended up getting was a Southwest seasoning that said it had chipotle peppers in it. So after seasoning the salmon, you layer it in the crock pot on top of the sliced veggies, then add Italian dressing, another layer of veggies, and some water. It only cooks for one and a half hours on high. (The image to the left is actually what it looked like when it was finished cooking.)
While that was cooking, I prepped the toppings for the po' boys. I sliced and toasted French bread and made "chipotle mayonnaise." Now, the recipe calls for "chipotle mayonnaise" as one of the ingredients, but I found nothing even remotely close in the grocery store. The recipe suggests combining plain mayonnaise with adobo sauce if you can't find it in the grocery store and I was lucky that I had purchased peppers in adobo sauce for another recipe the week before so I could make my own chipotle mayonnaise without any extra cost.
After the fish is done cooking, you just have to take it out and assemble the sandwiches. You spread the chipotle mayonnaise on the bread and add some cilantro. I removed the skin of the fish before I added it to the sandwich (which is what I was doing in this picture to the left). You spoon some of the cooking liquid on the rolls, then add the fish and vegetables. The recipe finally says to "serve with lemon wedge."
Now, I just have to say that this was one of the best things I've done in the crock pot. I actually regret not trying some of these fish recipes before because the fish cooked perfectly in the crock pot! And, if you're like me, a little squeamish about your fish being cooked right, this is a great way to do it. But, as I've come to expect from this cookbook, I got more servings than expected out of this recipe. Since I halved the recipe, I expected to get two servings, one for me and one for my roommate, but we ended up with three. I reheated the third serving and had it the next night for dinner and it was still good, but I didn't bother making the sandwich over again.
The cool thing about this recipe, too, is that this is one of the first times where my dish actually resembles the picture in the book! You can compare the sandwich I made above to the more expertly assembled one to the left (apologies for the flash glare--that was the picture that showed the colors the best), but, most importantly, the food that I made was the same vibrant color used in the image (normally the color in my food looks more bland).
Now, calculating the calories for this will be a little difficult because the amount of Italian dressing that you put in the recipe is not the amount that you actually end up eating. So my initial calculation was really high, 980 calories per serving, including all the bread and sandwich toppings. But, in actuality, it's probably closer to 842 calories as a sandwich and 473 for just the fish and veggies by itself (how I ate the leftovers). So, as published, this recipe is a really high-calorie meal, but if you were to just cook the fish and veggies and eat them without the sandwich fixings, it's not a bad choice. And even with the sandwich toppings, you could cut calories by using less of the mayo and a lower-calorie roll. In terms of cost, it seems pretty expensive at first glance. I mean, I paid $27.40 for the ingredients (about $9.13 per serving!) and I didn't have to get the mayo or adobo sauce! The fish was the big ticket item at $11.27 for 10 oz, and that is unavoidable, but the Southwest seasoning was also $7.49! Taking that item off because it's not like I used the whole (big!) jar of seasoning, it ends up being only about $6.34 per serving which is not bad at all for a meal, but definitely not as cheap as some of the other dishes I've made in the crock pot.
Regardless, I've learned how yummy fish cooked in the crock pot can be and will definitely be trying more of these recipes in the future!