Sunday, October 12, 2008

Atlantic Salmon atop with a herb salad

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.

Susan, from The Well Seasoned Cook is hosting Kalyn's Weekend Herb Blogging this time around, the third time she has had the pleasure to host this great event. Susan has a beautiful blog, fantastic recipes and stunning photos. Stop by and visit if you can.

Baked salmon


1 whole Atlantic salmon
Sea salt and milled white pepper
50ml extra virgin olive oil
150g walnuts
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
20g sumac

400g natural yoghurt
100ml tahini
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.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Turkish Bread Delight

Further to my previous post on Hummus Bi Tahini, this was the Turkish bread that I made to accompany it. I used the recipe from Glutten Cat, who generously had translated it into English. This bread not only looks fabulous, but tastes wonderful. It is the perfect scoop for hummus or any meal that has a sauce or gravy, or just eat it as is. I was a bit heavy handed with the nigella seeds, which I used in preference to caraway seeds. Next time I'll combine both.

The finished product and (below) the proved dough, ready to be put in the oven.

This recipe makes a lot of dough, so depending upon the size of the bread you require, halve or even quarter it, which is what I'll be doing next time.

I really loved the effect of spreading yoghurt over the top, which not only held the seeds in place, but gave it a beautiful shine, texture and flavour, once out of the oven.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Humble hummus

Traditionally hummus is served for a breakfast or lunch, and whilst I love a lunch of Turkish bread adorned with this creamy chickpea puree, it has become a favourite dip to take to parties, dressed to impress.

There are many differing versions of hummus; made with fresh chick peas, picked at a certain time of day (for the diehard hummusologists), dried chickpeas soaked overnight and then cooked, or for those in a rush, the canned variety which are already cooked.

I've never seen fresh chickpeas here, so that's not an option. And clearly my life is not so organised that I would remember to pick chickpeas at a certain time of day, if I was lucky enough to have a chickpea crop at my readiness. My preference is a good quality dried chickpea, soaked overnight. The next day drain the chickpeas and rub off any of the loosened shells before cooking. This soaking, rinsing and draining process is the most lengthy part of the preparation, but all you need to do is be prepared a day in advance. After that, very little effort is required to finalise this creamy, luxuriant, high protein pulse.

I use a pressure cooker to cook the chickpeas, which expedites the cooking process immensely, and retains all of the goodness. The most popular and best known version of hummus, is made with tahini paste, a paste of toasted and ground sesame seeds, and I have chosen this version to submit to Valentina from Trem Bom-English Version, who is hosting Kalyn's Weekend Herb Blogging. Valentina is a regular contributor to Weekend Herb Blogging, so be sure to visit her blog for the roundup. And I believe that Kalyn herself is about to embark in the world of pressure cooking, so this recipe might be the perfect introduction to her new appliance, plus I think it's South Beach friendly as well.

Hummus bi tahini

150g dried chickpeas soaked overnight or 400g can chickpeas
140ml tahini
Sea salt
Pinch ground cumin
Juice of 3 lemons
3 large cloves garlic
Pinch cayenne pepper


- If using dried chickpeas, rinse and add plenty of fresh water. Simmer for 1 hour or until quite soft. In a pressure cooker this can be reduced to about 20 minutes once pressure has been reached. Reduce pressure using the quick method.

- Drain and reserve a little of the cooking water. Canned chickpeas should be drained and cooked in fresh water for 20 minutes or so.

- Puree everything together, adding a touch of cooking water until it is creamy and smooth. Adjust the seasoning.

- Spoon onto a plate, smooth the surface and then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika, parsley and sundried olives.

Serve with homemade Turkish bread. Middle Eastern food, so simple, so tasty.