As promised, here’s Part #2 of my Spring Celebration 2020, the Main Dish – or simply “Dinner”~ Usually, I make this a little earlier in the year – only up until Easter, to be precise. See, years ago Hubby and I discovered a little stand on our Farmer’s Market selling all sorts of smoked freshwater fish, “fresh” out of their own ponds in the mountains not far away. Between November and March/April, their display also sports an inconspicuous, ice-filled box that, on closer inspection, contains the most beautiful and mouthwatering looking sides of salmon – also fresh out of their ponds and… well, even more delicious than their looks could possibly hint at.
Needless to say, we make this delicacy the star of the dinner table every once in a while during these few months, usually just giving it a light salad to the side. Anywhoo, just a couple of weeks back, right after the Easter holidays, they actually popped their signature salmon box onto their little table just as we were walking by. Of course we picked up a large piece and, what with the very berry spring displays all around us, I remembered a recipe I used to make before the salmon got too good to mess around with… and here it is~!
Just a word of advice in advance: you may want to start the dressing/parts of the salad a bit in advance, so have a look-see at those two sections before you fire up the pan~
The Matcha-Tea & Hazelnut Crusted Salmon
2x 200-250g Salmon Fillets
60g Hazelnuts or Almonds, crushed and lightly toasted
20g Sesame Seeds, lightly toasted
1 Tsp Matcha Tea Powder
½ Tsp Togarashi Pepper Blend
1 Lime, Zest – keep the juice for the dressing
1 Pinch of Cumin
1 Tsp Honey
1 Tsp Water
1 Tsp Sesame Oil
1 generous Pinch each of Salt and Pepper
2 Tbsp Ghee
2 Kaffir Lime Leaves
All right, you’ve got two options to go about the salmon: oven and pan.
Option #1: The Qven-Way
1) Preheat your oven to 180°C.
2) Crush the nuts, seeds, powders and spices up in a pestle & mortar set.
3) Tip the mixture into a bowl and add the honey, water and sesame oil along with a very generous pinch each of salt and pepper.
4) Combine the two until you’re looking at a wet-sand-like… substance.
5) Place your salmon in a lightly oiled ovenproof dish – slide one lime leaf beneath each piece.
6) Cover the pieces with the proto-crust in your bowl and gently but firmly push, prod, press and shape it around the fish.
7) Flake the ghee on top of both pieces.
8) Slide the dish onto the middle rack of your oven and bake the salmon fillets for 15-20 mins.
Option #2: The Pan-Way
1) Go about making the proto-crust as you would if you’d go the oven-way described above.
2) This time though, only cover the tops of the fillets with the soon-to-be-crust and leave the sides free.
3) Pop the two leaves into a cold, lightly oiled heavy-based pan and sprinkle a couple of salt flakes on top.
4) Place the covered fillets on top of the leaves anf flake the ghee around them.
5) Turn the heat to medium-high and leave the salmon to its own devices until the temperatures inside the pan reach “sizzling”.
6) Once the signature noises of the “sizzling” state reach your ears, give the skin about 7-10 mins to crisp up while the salmon cooks to very-lightly-rosy-on-the-inside perfection. Since the cooking time depends solely on the thickness of your fish fillets, look at the sides of the fillets for a visible thermometer: the orange’ish pink of the salmon turns pale as it cooks through. Since the only heatsource is at the bottom, you’ll know it’s done as soon as the white border reaches the top.
7) As the heat is doing it’s job, keep basting the tops of the salmon with the sizzling ghee in the pan to help the crust crisp up without a heatblast coming from above. Add a hint more ghee or a mild olive oil if necessary.
8) As a last-ditch resort, should your crust refuse to live up to its name, have at it with a crème brûlée torch as the cooked-marker is nearing the top.
The Raspberry-Lime & Wasabi Dressing
1 Lime, Juice – see above
2 Tbsp Raspberry Vinegar
4 Tbsp Orange Juice
1 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil
1 Tsp Wasabi Paste
Opt: Honey to taste
1) Whisk everything together in a bowl large enough to hold the raspberries and fennel listed in the Salad section below.
2) The tasting, for once, comes just before plating up, so once it’s all in the bowl and well combined, proceed to “The Salad” without further ado.
1 Ripe Avocado, diced into raspberry-sized bits
200g Mixed Lettuce Leaves
½ Fennel Bulb, very finely sliced or worked through a mandolin to a see-though state
1 Bunch of Chives, finely sliced
1) Add the fennel slices to the dressing for and allow them to soak for up to 2 hours.
2) You could have the raspberries join the party if they’re not all that ripe already – they’d fall apart in the rather harsh, vinegary environment in case they’re too ripe.
3) Scatter everything else onto two large plates, holding on to the fennel and berries swimming in the dressing until it’s time to plate up.
Assembling the Dish
1) Grab the leafy plates and distribute the solid contents of the dressing bowl evenly across both servings. Since there are berries involved, Hubby reminded me of stressing the “evenly”.
2) Have a taste of the liquids remaining in the dressing bowl and adjust the dressing if necessary.
3) Drizzle the final result on top of the salad piles.
4) Nestle the crusty salmon on top and…