It’s dark outside, and it will be dark for a long time. It’s dark in here, too: writing is hard. My hands won’t work right. My mind won’t work right. I am tired of this: it’s been a long winter.
I have written things, and pitched things, and studied things. I read this, and I did a startled little YES: these people know. These people understand what it’s like to go on, and on, every day, fighting these little things that live with us always. “It is terrifying to reside within my own body,” says one person, there.
That person is not me, but might have been. I am trying- and this blog is part of it, a very big part of it- to reconcile myself with my own body. To reconcile myself with hands that shake, and skin that can’t bear touch (not even the light light pressure of my silver ring), and a mind that spasms, spoils. To reconcile myself with my weight, with my hips, with my thighs, my breasts, my belly. To reconcile myself with myself. To reconcile myself with myself, I cook.
I am making a truce between me and myself: I am learning to live within myself. It is slow. It is new. It has been a long winter. It’s dark outside. Here is how to make something easy, something good, and bright, and clean; something new, for a new year.
Just-seared Salmon and Strike Me Pink Salad
Serves 2, generously. Pescetarian; healthy; everything-free.
Two big, beautiful salmon steaks; skin on, bones out, if possible. Sainsbury’s fish counter will cut them to size for you, if you ask.
A little splash of oil
|Two biggish red onions
Beetroot- I used some baby beetroot, pre-soaked and dressed with sweet chilli, because I had them, but any beetroot would do, I think.
Six spring onions
A good knot of ginger
A fistful of walnuts
|Big bowl; sharp knife; chopping board; frying pan|
Take the salmon steaks, and lay them out on a board: rub them with a teaspoon of five-spice between them, and a good pinch of crushed chillies. The crushed chillies in the big bags from Natco, by the way, are the best value- if you’re a chilli person, which I am, very much. On the skin side, rub them with a little oil, a little salt. Leave them to sit. (It must be said that Tall Man did this part: I was having a minute. I am very lucky.) You can leave them for a good long while: they will only improve.
Dice the onions finely, keeping elbows braced on the edge of the table, if you’re a wobbly sort. Chop the spring onions; chop the beetroot. Everything should be small, and jewel-like: all bright and neat and about half the size of a penny. Peel and grate a good nut of ginger, straight into the vegetables. Keep going. That’s it. There you go. Splendid. Scatter over with sea-salt, and a fistful of crushed-ish walnuts. Not to a powder, just to a pleasant grainy sort of texture. Just like that. There you go.
Tip the whole lot into a large bowl, with the salad leaves (one medium bag from the Co-op did us), and mix, with your hands, turning it over and over. Watch your fingertips go pink. Turn the salad over and over, fingers pink, palms pink. See how useful your hands can be, sometimes. Taste. Shake in a good glug of light soy; mix more; taste more. Shake in a medium glug of rosé vinegar; mix more; taste more. I added more walnuts, here.
Now go back to your salmon.
Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat; add a little oil, and swirl to cover the base of the pan. When the oil is warm, turn the heat down a little, and add the salmon. Salmon is most lovely rare; silky thick flakes tiled over each other, pink pink pink. For this, two-three minutes skin-side down, one-two minutes top-side down. It’s marvellous: it is all gold and pink, like a Wedgwood teacup.
When my cousin Isabel was very little her favourite colour was “pink-purple-silver-an’-gold”: this is all those colours.
Here’s supper. Here’s a truce.