Stories of Salmon

Last week alone I ate salmon four times. One new recipe for dinner (coming soon), wild tinned red salmon for lunch and plenty of Salmon at Sushi Samba London! It did get me pondering ways to reinvent and re-inspire recipes for this favourite fish.

I have been quite into the Great British Chef’s Website lately. They promote some of the UK’s top culinary talent and their chef’s have parted with some incredible recipes which are listed on the site. They also list recipes by collection, and here I point you to their Collection on Salmon.

It provides a wide range of salmon recipes with everything from utterly gourmet and fine-dining fancy to entirely mid-week manageable. The photography on their site is beautiful in itself, and we all know how much I love a good dose of Food Porn.

From the collection my picks would be the Salmon en Papillote from Josh Eggleton, it looks so quick and light but the flavours would be perfect together. The Boullibasse from Tom Aikens, which would require more attention but particularly in these colder months would make a wonderful weekend meal for entertaining. And for all my readers in warmer climates, the Lemon & Herb Marinated Salmon Skewers from Marcello Tully would be perfect on the BBQ. Oh to be in a BBQ climate!!

While many of the recipes in this collection look michellin-star worthy (and if that is what you are after this is a pretty amazing resource for elegant recipes) but as always for my palate, I prefer the clean and simpler flavours like the recipes mentioned above. The other dish that caught my attention was for poached salmon, because it made me realise I had never poached fish…WOAH! Immediate rectification necessary.

If you haven’t read it previously, you may like to see the article I wrote on Wild versus Farmed salmon. The difference in flavour, texture and nutritional value is enormous…and yes while we are at it, so is the cost. It is better to be armed with the facts so we can make an informed decision though no?

Tuna Chickpea Salad with Tangy Dressing

A friend of mine emailed me yesterday to ask for a suggestion of what is good dish to take when you have been asked to “bring a plate”. Something that doesn’t need much work once you arrive at the venue, and can be transported easily having been made in advance. Excellent request, as who isn’t faced with this situation at some point? She wanted something healthy…and she came to the right place!

This tuna chickpea salad is one I have unashamedly stolen from my mother and it is always a hit no matter where it is served. It makes for ideal lunch food on weekends and a wonderful dish to take to a friends place to contribute as part of a dinner/BBQ etc. If you are taking it out to be eaten elsewhere, it can all be made in advance but don’t dress it until you are just about to serve.

The chickpeas I have found work best are those that come in jars, not cans. They tend to be softer, and less ‘woody’. My all-time favorite is ‘Navarrico’ garbanzo (chickpeas), a Spanish brand stored in water and salt which are unbelievably tasty. The tuna I use is canned, and for this the best option is tuna in olive oil, that you drain. The olive oil keeps the tuna moist and tender. The best tuna I have ever used for this dish is Sirena Chili Tuna. Sadly, it can only be found in Australia (I have searched and googled them to death, even called the company when I moved when I moved to London to see if they had a distributor here!) For the Aussies out there, Coles or Woolworths, and any italian deli will have it. Sirena is so good, that any time my mum goes to Sydney she stocks up and literally takes over 20 jars back to New Zealand with her, solely for use in this dish, and much to the amusement of the boys in customs en route home. I find the slight chili heat in the tuna lends itself perfectly to the tangy and sweet dressing. If not in Australia, like me, just find a good quality tuna that hasn’t been broken up (eg in slices) or it tends to get too bitsy in the salad.

For the salad:

  • 1 large jar of chickpeas (approx 650gm), drained
  • 1/2 spanish/red onion, very finely sliced
  • 1 red capsicum, sliced
  • 1 orange/yellow capsicum, sliced
  • large bundle of beans, blanched, microwaved or sauteed until just cooked
  • 1 avocado, diced into large chunks
  • large handful baby spinach or rocket, or both
  • 20 cherry tomatos, halved
  • 400gm tuna in olive oil, drained
For the Tangy Dressing:
  • Juice of 1.5 lemons
  • 12-15 large mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2.5 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
  • salt and pepper

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Drain the chickpeas in a colander and rise them well. After this is done, use the colander to drain the tuna of the olive oil. In  large salad bowl combine all the salad ingredients.
Using the jar the chickpeas came in, combine the sweet chilli, mint, salt and pepper and lemon juice. Shake well. Add the olive oil and shake again. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
Just before serving, gently toss the salad with the dressing. Crack a little fresh pepper on the top of the salad, and garnish with a fresh mint leaf or two if you wish. If you are making this for a dinner party/BBQ I would use double the chickpeas to fill it out..or while you are at it…you may as well double the whole thing, as it will go!

Asian Sea Bass Steamers

Here it is, as promised, my Asian Sea Bass Steamers. This dish is such fun to serve to visitors, and it is light and healthy, full of flavor and easy to prepare! To make it easier to see just how it is done, I got my husband to shoot a video of me getting this ready for our dinner guests last night.

  • 4 fresh seabass (snapper and bream would work well too)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4cm Ginger, sliced julienne (skinny little sticks)
  • 2 teaspoons tamarind paste
  • 4 spring onions (salad onions)
  • handful of chopped coriander
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 4 tablespoons tamari
  • 8 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 red chili finely chopped
  • 300gm shiitake mushrooms, sliced
Preheat the oven to 200 celicus.
Wash and pat dry 4 sea bass (that have been scaled and gutted). Lay each fish on a large piece of tinfoil ( you can use huge BBQ foil or with regular foil just ensure you have a long piece!) and fold the foil in half over the fish. Fold the sides in so that you have an open foil bag with the fish at the bottom. Salt the outside of each fish and the cavity.
Combine the tamarind paste with the lemon juice in a small glass. Ensure your coconut oil is liquid, which is easily done by microwaving it for about 10-20 seconds. Evenly distribute all the ingredients in and over the fish. Seal over the top of the foil bag.
Place the 4 foil ‘steamers’ onto an oven tray and cook at 200 degrees celcius for 23 minutes. Remove the foil bags from the oven and serve the whole thing onto a large dinner plate. Open the bags at the table by opening at the top  folding down the sides to expose the steamed fish in all its juice.
I serve this with a large salad which we eat on a different plate after everyone has finished the fish, almost like another course. Pairs beautifully with a crisp white wine.

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Tandoori Chicken

I had two girlfriends over for lunch today and decided to make them this quick and easy tandoori chicken salad. The chicken can be prepared the night before (so I had it for dinner with my husband yesterday) and you can serve it hot or cold. You can buy tandoori paste in most supermarkets or in an asian food store that stocks indian/middle-eastern foods. My favorite brand for this paste is Sharwoods, but I cant find it very readily so I used Pataks this time.

  • 5 chicken breasts (or however many you need, this amount should work for 3-8)
  • 2.5 tablespoons Tandoori Paste
  • 4 tablespoons natural yoghurt
  • A few wedges of fresh lime
In a bowl combine the yoghurt and tandoori paste. Slice your chicken breasts (approximately into quarters lengthways) and combine with the paste, covering well. Marinade for 1+ hours.
Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and add your chicken. Cook until tender (slice open your fattest piece to make sure it is done). You can either serve in pieces or slice it up, revealing the lovely colored rim around the white of the chicken. Serve with a large salad. If serving in pieces add a wedge of fresh lime to each plate for squeezing over the chicken. I have added photos of both methods of serving.

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I used to make this and serve it with Fragrant Rice, but I try and avoid grains these days as I have almost eliminated migraines from my life after a 17 year battle with them (More on that later, it also meant cutting out almost all dairy).
If you do eat rice, cook some up and once it is drained but still hot, toss through some chopped coriander (cilantro), chopped fresh red chilli and some roughly chopped salted cashews. This is a very beautiful looking rice dish and very fragrant and it goes perfectly with this chicken and wedge of lime.