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Tomato Salmon Pasta and on difficult news

Imagine yourself taking a picture of your toddler and noticing that in the picture, one of her eye reflects red and the other reflects white. You might not think much of it, after all, she is running around like herself and nothing seems wrong. Or you might eventually decide to bring her to the doctors just to check it out. Imagine the doctor suddenly getting anxious and bringing in ultrasounds and other big black instruments to check out her eyes. Then the doctor sits down and takes a big solemn breath, and he tells you that your child, the same child who is squeaking in excitement over a new toy in the corner, has a tumor growing in her eye, and it could take her vision and her life if it’s not treated. Imagine the shock, the denial, the panic and the blankness that overtakes your mind.

Then, imagine that YOU are the doctor sitting in front of the mom, giving this bad news. Would you feel anxious, squeamish or apathetic? Would you be able to keep your cool?

It’s easy to sympathize with the seeming victim of the story, who is the helpless parent. But how about the doctor on the other end, who is keeping a calm and professional front, explaining through the disease, the treatment and prognosis in flawless logic. Did you know that just like you, the doctor is also fighting every impulse to burst into tears? Although a poised composure comes with time and experience, that instinctual human need to find emotional outlet for tragic events don’t go away. Some might say that doctors become jaded or hardened after giving bad news repeatedly, but I think it is more complicated than that. Even if the emotions don’t come through in front of the patients or with colleagues back in the office, they eventually show up in the subtle ways they interact with their loved ones at home, or in their tendency to overwork themselves, or for the unfortunate few, their dependence on alcoholism to deal with the difficult feelings.

So the next time you sympathize with the parents, don’t forget that there is someone in a white coat on the other end, who might appear eloquent and put-together, but is just as in need of your empathy.

Now onto menu of the day.

I have to confess that I got lazy with cooking this past week and haven’t whipped up the usual number of dishes enough for blog posts. So I’m featuring here a summer pasta dish I made a year ago. (If the photography styling looks off from my recent posts, this is why) This was inspired by a pasta dish I had in San Diego when I traveled with my fiance to southern California two winters ago. I love seafood, and tomato-ey flavors, so the dish stuck in my mind.

I find that many are intimidated by the idea of making your own pasta sauce. But the reality is, it’s incredibly simple and versatile after you learn the crucial steps, then you can swap out ingredients and make it yours. For example, I almost always start off with cooking crushed or diced tomatoes, then cook whatever ingredient you want to add in a separate pan, then add that ingredient in with the tomatoes. Put in a pinch of basil, oregano, chili flakes or whatever spice your heart desires. If it tastes good, it’s good right? Then add 1 beaten egg to the mix and stir vigorously while off heat- vioila, creamy pasta sauce without using butter!

Tomato Salmon Pasta

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1hr
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2 large chunks of salmon, defrosted
  • pepper and salt for salmon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1-2 diced roma tomatoes
  • 1 pinch of basil, oregano, chili flakes (feel free to substitute here, let your creativity run wild)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cups of penne pasta
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan or any other cheese for topping

Rub the salmon steaks with salt and pepper. Over high heat, add oil to the pan. When oil is simmering, add salmon chunks. Sear on each side for 2-3 minutes, until just cooked through. Break up salmon into pieces with your spatula. Set salmon aside.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil. Have pasta ready at the side. Cook pasta to al dente according to instruction on the box. Usually takes 9-10 minutes.

Over medium heat on a large pan, heat up olive oil. Add garlic and stir until fragrant. Add crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes. Stir and cook for 10 minutes. Add a pinch of basil, oregano, salt, chili flakes.

Add salmon pieces back to the pan and mix over low heat for 1 minute. Strain the cooked pasta from the pot and add it to the pan with the sauce.

Turn off the heat. Add 1 beaten egg to the mix and stir vigorously to avoid egg whites clumping. This will take 1 minute. Top it off with parmesan cheese.

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