I just love having a keen fisherman as a neighbour. Fresh water fish, caught in local streams and lakes are a favourite of mine. Trout are in abundance, along with the occasional Murray Cod, when in season. But this weekend I was given a real treat. Atlantic salmon, which I've never tasted before. It's very similar to a brown trout, but I think the flavour is unmatchable. Of course the fisherman told me to cook it simply, so as not to bugger it up, but of course I never listened. Salt, pepper and butter, wrapped in foil was all he asked me to do. Ho hum, that's a bit boring, but I'm sure quite tasty.
I stumbled across this recipe at one of my favourite food sites, Food Safari. This dish was created by Greg Malouf, a favourite Aussie chef, who specialises in Lebanese and Middle East cooking. As soon as I saw this, I knew the simple method was going to have to wait. Sorry Simon!
The use of corriander and mint, with a touch of sumac, served as a salad on top is very impressive....a real dinner party dish if ever I saw one. The tahini yoghurt acts as a base for the salad to "stick" to, and imparts a beautiful creamy flavour and texture.
1 whole Atlantic salmon
Sea salt and milled white pepper
50ml extra virgin olive oil
120ml extra virgin olive oil, extra
Juice of 1 or 2 lemons
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
3 long mild red chillies, seeded and finely diced
2 cups coriander leaves, chopped
½ cup mint leaves, shredded
400g natural yoghurt
1 clove garlic, crushed with 1 tsp sea salt
2 lemons, juiced
Preheat oven to 150°C. Whip yoghurt, tahini and garlic together until it becomes a thick paste. Thin slightly with lemon juice, season with salt and refrigerate (it should be the consistency of pure cream).
Season salmon with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil. Wrap in silicon or baking paper. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes. Gently turn salmon over and cook for a further 20 minutes. The salmon should be medium rare after 50 minutes.
Remove from oven, opening the paper to stop further cooking. With a sharp knife, pierce the skin along the back from head to tail and peel away the skin. Scrape away the grey blood line. Carefully transfer to a large serving plate.
Brush some of the yoghurt mixture (about ½ cup) onto the flesh of the salmon to coat the top side. Reserve the remaining sauce to serve with the finished dish.
Roast walnuts in a preheated oven (200°C) for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and rub briskly in a clean tea towel to remove as much of the skin as possible. Chop finely. Whisk the extra oil with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add onion and chilli and whisk lightly. Add coriander, mint, sumac and walnuts.
Spoon the salad onto the salmon and carefully cover the entire fish as neatly as possible. Serve at room temperature with reserved sauce. Salmon can be cooked up to 4 hours in advance and the salad can be composed just prior to spooning onto the salmon.
Note: To serve, 'cut' fish along the length with a spoon. Scoop flesh off onto serving plates.