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When I was invited to participate in a friendly Iron Chef competition, I was excited. The e-mail invited us to also submit a suggestionf for the secret ingredient; I had but one thought: tater tots. The secret ingredient should be tater tots.

Sadly, they chose salmon. It then became my goal to combine salmon and tater tots in the same dish, which actually worked out rather well. I brainstormed with a former co-worker of mine, and came up with the perfect plan.

We decided to be Team Alabama (the new soverign country of Alabama) and make tater tot and salmon skewers, also known as Salmon-Tot Kebabs.

I was a little daunted when we showed up (late) because everybody else really went all out and had two or three dishes and a wine or beer to serve with their courses. We had salmon and tater tot sish kebabs and PBR. We put little Alabama state flags on the end of the skewers, though, so at least they looked festive.

We lost the iron chef competition, although one of the organizers was nice and said our salmon tasted the best. Sadly, tater-tots are best fresh out of the oven, and not 30-45 minutes later. Team Polynesia won, with a fruity rice and salmon dish. Team Germany's curry dish (very German) was delicious, and Team Scotland's puff pastries were really excellent. I think they should have won for their cullinary creativity, but they also made a potato soup that apparently didn't go over well, so I think they lost overall points for that. I'm pretty sure the Salmon-Tot Kebabs had us in last place, but only because tots don't travel well.

Without further ado, here is how to prepare salmon-tot kebabs:

Recipe for Salmon-Tot Kebabs

You will need: Some salmon (thick fillet or steak), some tater tots (I recommend Ore-Ida), some virgin olive oil, a lemon, herbs if you want them, and skewers

Note: If you're using bamboo skewers, submerge them in water and leave them for awhile. They should soak at least 10 minutes.

  1. Prepare the salmon:
    1. Put some of the olive oil (about 1/4 c) in a bowl.
    2. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze out all the juice into the same bowl.
    3. Put in some herbs (I used about 1½" of a sprig of rosemary, maybe a teaspoon of minced thyme, and then I looked at the clock and realized I was running late, so I kind of pulled apart a little bit of oregano in a very clumsy fashion and dumped that in there -- clumsiness optional).
    4. Start pre-heating your oven for the tots (follow directons on bag).
    5. Cut up the salmon into little cubes -- however big you want 'em. Mine varied from really small to about 1" x 1" x 1". Probably the bigger the better, but I kept running into bones. Try to get salmon without skin or bones. It'll be a lot easier.
    6. Put the salmon cubes in the olive oil lemon stuff.
  2. Follow directions on bag for making your tater-tots in a conventional oven. Only cook them for most of the time recommended. Remove them from the oven when they are 5-10 minutes away from being done.
  3. Then put the salmon cubes and tots on the skewers in whatever creative fashion you deem appropriate. I used three salmon chunks and three tots to a skewer and alternated them.
  4. Put the loaded-up skewers on your broiler pan, if you have one. I never knew what it was for before, but it's that big two-piece pan that is usually in the drawer under your stove. If you don't have one, you can probably use a cookie sheet or something, but I'm not really sure about that. Call someone who's a good cook and ask them what to do.
  5. Put your oven rack up as high as it will go. Set your oven to broil. My range (which is smarter than I am) has options for low and high broil. Choose low if you have an option. High might dry out your fish.
    Note: You might think it's a good idea to use the George Foreman grill for this last part, but early tests show that it's no good for the Salmon-Tot Kebabs. I'm sure it has plenty of other strengths, but just trust me and stick with the broiler for this one.
  6. Put your pretty skewers under the broiler (on the broiler pan). I broiled mine for approximately 1½ to 2 minutes per side (there are four sides). So, somewhere around 8 minutes total. Look at them every now and again and decide if they look right to you.

Serve hot, with PBR.

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