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This 20-Minute Dinner Is So Fast, It Makes Me Feel Like Superman

Food52 logo Food52 11/29/2019 Eric Kim
a plate of food on a table © Provided by Food52

Table for One is a column by Senior Editor Eric Kim, who loves cooking for himself—and only himself—and seeks to celebrate the beauty of solitude in its many forms. Today: a weeknight option for when you're done with Thanksgiving leftovers and need something new to eat.

Everyone needs a hero. I have a few heroes: Nigella Lawson, Timothée Chalamet’s The King haircut, and blue cheese.

A salty, fragrant Gorgonzola is my saving grace after a long day at the office. If ever you need to find me on a weeknight, look no further than my kitchen counter: I’ll be leaning against it, shoes kicked off, hat, tie, and jacket strewn across the floor, glass of wine in one hand, bottle in the other (usually a white from Santa Barbara or a red from Mendoza if it’s cold out).

You’ll watch in horror as I greedily hunk off morsels of cheese with my hands, eyes glazed over, as a no-cook, no-pan, no-wok, no-bowl, zero-second (!) starter while making myself something more substantial to eat, like tacos, risotto, or spaghetti alla carbonara. But more often than I care to admit, I’ll find that I’ve finished the entire bottle (and the cheese) while my main meal still cooks, falling into a deep, salty stupor while reading the paper in my favorite chair, one patterned with adorable rainbow-colored chickens...

a plate of food on a table © Provided by Food52

In American Cookery, James Beard laments that “cheese has never figured as a separate course in our meals as it does in France.” I’d go one step further and say that it’s a shame Americans have never quite picked up the habit of making cheese a meal on its own entirely, untouched and eaten as is.

For nights when I’m feeling less ascetic and a little more energetic, I have a couple of speedy recipes up my sleeve, including Buffalo-glazed salmon.

I’ve been making this salmon dinner for as long as I can remember. It's my favorite kind of meal—Buffalo-style anything with blue cheese whatever—pared down to a single-serving supper for one. Salmon fillet and gorgeous hunk of Gorgonzola aside, it's likely you’ll already have all these ingredients on hand, and dinner will be ready in 20 minutes tops.

The marinade sounds strange at first: It starts with hot sauce, sugar, and a little mayonnaise. Trust me on the sugar—it caramelizes into a glaze. And bear with me on the mayonnaise. You won’t even taste it in the end; it serves more as a cooking medium, as it melts into its oily base and helps the salmon fry. As long as you use a nonstick skillet, no additional oil is required.

And though I’m not the world’s biggest kale fanatic, I’ve found Tuscan kale—the ribbed, dark green variety that’s often labeled “lacinato kale” or “dinosaur kale”—tastes much less like cardboard than the regular stuff. Even less so when you’ve massaged a creamy blue cheese dressing into it. The inspiration for this salad started, actually, as a Caesar salad—I found that I didn’t need the raw egg yolk to emulsify the dressing so long as I started with a tiny bit of mayonnaise (again, trust me!) and softened blue cheese, which emulsifies beautifully and adds that umamied depth without the need for anchovies. Yet another illustration of how blue cheese seems always to save the day.

Maybe the difference here is that with this dish, as I sit down to a plate of it, knife and fork in hand, I can feel like the hero of my own night for a change.

Buffalo-Glazed Salmon With Blue Cheese Kale Salad

By Eric Kim

Buffalo-glazed salmon

  • 1 center-cut salmon fillet (about 5 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon your favorite hot sauce, such as Tabasco
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, lots of it

Blue cheese kale salad

  • 1 ounce blue cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon malt vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pinch celery seed, optional
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale (also known as lacinato or dinosaur), cut into bite-size pieces

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- P.S. Is there anything you'd like to see Eric write about in this column? Send your Table for One tips to, or tell him yourself on Twitter.

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