Vanessa Chang
(A Glutton with Brains)


a glutton with brains

3 Out of 4 Things In This Photo Came Out of My Dishwasher


Plate. Fork. And...salmon?

I have an odd relationship with my dishwasher. I know it's good for my life. But, god help me, I hate filling it. The mere idea of doing dishes triggers a massive bout of procrastination that'll leave me with a mountain of pots, pans, silverware, and dishes. It isn't only until I have nothing left to cook my food in or put my food on that I actually roll up the proverbial sleeve and just do a load.

So when my friend Nick sent me a link to a recipe for Dishwasher Salmon, I was intrigued. No longer would I have to be burdened with the cooking and wretched cleaning. In one go, I could do both. What a brilliant concept. That is, in theory. Doing it is another matter.

Courtesy of the Surreal Gourmet, the concept is to "poach" filets in the top rack of dishwasher during a regular cycle. Now, I've seen things cooked from the hood of a car with the heat of an engine. But from a machine that's supposed to leave my water glasses streak-free and my dishes spotless? Really. Even with the threat of "soapy fish", I gave it a try.

You can find the original recipe here. Needless to say, I took a few liberties with the original. I didn't bother with the accompanying sauce. If this recipe is a matter of novelty, and more importantly, convenience, I thought it had too many ingredients. Instead, I focused on the technique.

Instead of going whole hog and cooking dinner for everyone, I decided to try it out on myself. So with one filet from my favorite fish market (yes, we have these in Salt Lake City), I gave it a go.


The recipe puts great importance on the aluminum packaging. Which makes sense. Because if something comes undone, it'll be, well, a fishy situation.


So with the filet nicely sealed the only thing left to do was to cook it. But I didn't have a full load of dishes. And I honestly wasn't going to do two cycles in a day in the name of solitary filet. That would be counterintuitive to the point of this "combined energy cooking" anyway. So, the package chilled out in the fridge until I had enough dishes to justify a cycle.

One day later with most of the work already done, I placed the foil package on the top rack, next to the glasses and bowls. Closed the dishwasher door and set it to the "Normal Cycle" setting. There were errands to be done. Like shopping for something to go with my novel salmon.

When I returned, the knob was almost to the "dry" setting. That's when I detected a fishy smell. Oh god. I'm cleaning my dishes with the usual Cascade Spring Fresh and a nice helping of Omega-3 fatty acids. I stopped the load mid cycle and pulled out the top rack to find my little "secure" aluminum pouch punctured from god knows what.


I opened the rest of the pouch to find a light pink filet. Completely cooked through (so much for coral center). And a little worse for wear. While the cycle finished off, I prepared a salad of fennel bulb and citrus, and then topped the filet with some yogurt sauce leftover from a grilled lamb the day before.

The verdict. Visually, I made it passable. The taste of the filet wasn't so horrid. But let's just say I REALLY enjoyed the side salad.

And the biggest bitch of it all—after all that trouble to cook while I cleaned, I still had a plate, a fork, a cutting board, a small board, and a knife to clean. Vicious cycle.


Here's the recipe for Fennel and Citrus Salad (i.e. the better part of my dinner)

1 fennel bulb ** 1 citrus fruit of choice ** 1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil ** salt and pepper to taste ** a handful of herbs, optional.

Thinly slice the fennel bulb. If knife work is too cumbersome, a potato slicer works really well. But I hope you enjoy long periods of repetitive motion.

Slice off two ends of the citrus fruit (yes, they have ends). And place one flat end on the cutting board. Using a sharp knife, saw your way from the top to the bottom of the fruit to remove the peel and the white pith. Go over it again if you need, depending on how much of a perfectionist you are. Then cut between the membranes to release wedges of fruit. You'll collect alot of juice on the cutting board.

Pour this juice into a small bowl. And take the remainder of the fruit (with all the section cut out) and squeeze it so that the juices come out and into the bowl. Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste and whisk complete until blended. Here's your vinaigrette.

Arrange the fennel slices, citrus segments, and herbs, if using, on a plate (still warm from the dishwasher!). Drizzle some of the vinaigrette over this mess. Serve immediately with dishwasher salmon if you dare...

This salad keeps well for the day. Just make some room for it in the fridge, as it only works when it's chilled.

UncategorizedVanessa Chang