I am currently writing a new book which will augment my little vegetable series. It will be more than twice the size, but still a similar format with the superb photographs taken by my wife,photographer Caroline Trotter, whose great skill is making my quotidian recipes look delicious! This time it will be on Fish. The reasons for this are varied and I will pick up on the theme as the year progresses, but the reason for now is that this is the year of Coasts and Waters from Visit Scotland and I thought that with the fact that more people are cooking than ever before, now is the time to support our fishermen and use fresh fish from British waters. It is a sad fact that the top five fish eaten in the UK are Cod, Haddock, Tuna, Salmon and Prawns, The last quite possibly from pacific waters, tuna is not a native fish and salmon is farmed. Now I have no problem with farmed fish so long as it farmed well, and I am using the rest of this blog to talk about farmed Salmon. A colleague of mine told me about Native Hebridean salmon and they kindly sent me some samples of both the fresh fish and their smoked salmon. Now I know another colleague, well known food commentator Joanna Blythman has something to say about farmed fish but I believe that in the right hands it is acceptable, as much as anything, because getting wild salmon nowadays is almost impossible. Up until now I have only bought Shetland salmon which I believe is farmed sustainably and is good. The Hebridean product also looks very good, it has very little fat and had a firm texture which some fish do not have. I cooked it in various ways, not least as a sort of tartar, which is raw, and this too was superb, if it had been flabby and oily then the mouth feel would not have been satisfactory. In a curry, the flavour still shone through and simply grilled it was not at all oily. I made a gravlax with beetroot and this too worked very well, with a clean fresh taste. The smoked salmon was also very good, firm texture and a delicate smoke flavour which was not overpowering the fish. (smoking after all is simply a method of preserving) The fresh flavour means that lemon juice is not necessary but I like a squeeze on mine. So this month’s recipe is for .. salmon!
Ps the book will only be published if I can find a distributor!
This month’s recipe
SALMON AND SCALLOPS WITH LEEK AND GINGER
It is often hard to get fresh fish at this time of year although we are still in the main season for Haddock and Whiting, of the oily fish, Mackerel should still be available, and Mackerel also goes well with the ingredients in this dish, but I have chosen a safe option of farmed salmon as it’s available year round, but do make sure that it has been sourced from accredited sources such as MSC . The combination of colourful leeks and warmth of fresh ginger helps keep away the winter chills! I use salmon fillets which are cut from a whole side, but do make sure they have been scaled as I like to cook the salmon from the skin side only, it takes a little longer to cook but the skin becomes lovely and crunchy and the flesh is moist, but if there are still scales its horrible!
Scallops are great just now and this dish is really brings out their sweetness.
4 small fillets of salmon
4 King scallops (muscle removed)
2 cm piece of ginger
Cold pressed rapeseed oil and butter
Salt and pepper
1 Heat a heavy based pan and add a touch of oil. Dry the salmon fillets and sprinkle the skin side with a little salt and place skin side down in the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes until the skin has really browned. Reduce the heat and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, until just firm to the touch.
2 Meanwhile cut the leeks into 5 cm lengths and then cut in half lengthwise and slice thinly into thin sticks
3 Peel the ginger and cut into thin slices then cut into thin sticks as above
4 When the salmon has cooked remove from the pan and keep warm.
5 Raise the heat and dry the scallops with kitchen paper and add a touch more oil to the pan and a little butter, sear the scallops on both sides to colour a lovely brown. Set aside and add the leeks and ginger stir to colour lightly and soften, season
Serve the salmon skin side up with the scallop and leek mixture