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There’s something about Marcus Samuelsson that just makes us feel like we could sit down with him, have a few beers, and it would be like we’ve been friends for years.

Samuelsson’s approach to life and food is extremely refreshing. He’s positive, optimistic and talks about food like it’s a romantic language. Born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden and currently working in the United States, he is influenced by the cultures around him and considers himself a “citizen of the world.” With so many different influences, Samuelsson has one of the most interesting, well-rounded culinary point-of-views in the world. He prides himself on having familiar flavors that are just a little off-center.

His new cookbook, Marcus Off Duty: The Recipes I Cook at Home, gives us an even bigger glimpse into the life of the chef who has also been seen on TV shows such as Top Chef Masters, The Taste and Chopped. The cookbook focuses on his life outside of the kitchen and what he and his family cook together. The book has 150 recipes that mix simplicity with the multicultural elements Samuelss
on is known for.

Samuelsson began cooking in Sweden with his grandmother. As a child, he didn’t eat the traditional kid food. According to Samuelsson, his grandmother “never cooked down” to him and his two sisters. He ate what the adults were eating, and his meals consisted of seasonal produce, fish and flavors that favored the tart, salty and sour.

Samuelsson didn’t settle for the traditional French cooking techniques and flavors that so many chefs rely on. In his mind, it was too easy to lose your identity by focusing on what was expected. He began to travel and explore other cultures outside of his own. While he loves French food and techniques, he also loves food from Peru and street food from Singapore.

Samuelsson’s travels and background are evident in his new cookbook, Marcus Off Duty. Some of our favorite recipes are fish and chips with pickles (pg. 152); shrimp and pork dumplings (pg. 116); and Hannah’s shrimp tacos (pg. 232).

And, thanks to him, we’re allowed to share one of his recipes with you for Dill-Spiced Salmon. The recipe was easy and absolutely delicious – it was perfect for a quick, healthy weeknight dinner. We served it with some green beans and roasted potatoes, but we hope to try it with the Raw Kale Salad as he suggests in the description below.

The cookbook is a great guide for at-home cooks at every experience level. He outlines the equipment every kitchen should have in addition to instructions for basic (yet, delicious) cooking techniques like grilling vegetables. It would make a perfect gift for at-home cooks that are just starting or a seasoned cook that wants to try new flavors in the kitchen.

Salmon with dill is the Swedish equivalent to American meat loaf. When I was growing up in Sweden, it was the weeknight dish that every family had almost every week. I still love the simplicity of this dish, although I now kick up the heat a few notches with a few dashes of chile powder. I love to pair this salmon with Raw Kale Salad (page 276); the mix of kale and root vegetables makes a salad that’s not only healthy, but restaurant-level impressive. This cooking technique will give you salmon that’s creamy, almost custardy. If you prefer it more well done, leave it in the skillet for a few more minutes.

Dill-Spiced Salmon

4 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4½ tsp chile powder
1 tbsp coriander seeds, finely ground
1 tsp cumin seeds, finely ground
Freshly ground black pepper
4 (6-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets
Kosher salt
1 tbsp unsalted butter

In a mini food processor, blend 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the lemon juice, mustard, dill, garlic, chile powder, coriander, cumin, and ¼ teaspoon pepper into a paste. Transfer the paste to a bowl. Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the salmon fillets, skin side down, and brush half of the paste on the fillets. Cook for 4 minutes, then add the butter. Continue to cook, spooning the oil and butter over the salmon, for 2 minutes. You’ll see the color changing as the salmon cooks from the bottom. Flip the salmon and brush the remaining paste onto the other side. You just want the heat to kiss the salmon on this side, so take it out after a few seconds. Let the salmon rest for a few minutes before serving. Serves 4.

Excerpted from MARCUS OFF DUTY: THE RECIPES I COOK AT HOME © 2014 by Marcus Samuelsson. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. Photo credit: Paul Brissman