Salmon with Shaved Beetroot & Avocado

This colourful salmon dish will appeal to beetroot fans. Serve it as a light but satisfying main course for two or a starter for four. 

2 portions salmon (350-400g)
1 rounded Tbs each salt and sugar
1 medium beetroot
2 small avocados (or one large one)
Olive oil, Lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs snipped chives
Balsamic glaze

Place salmon in a plastic container with a lid. Add the salt and sugar and turn to coat. Cover with the lid and refrigerate for a day or two, turning 2 or 3 times. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Salmon can be wrapped in plastic wrap at this stage and frozen for up to a month. Thaw to use in this recipe. Remove and discard skin and cut salmon into 1cm dice. Add olive oil and lemon juice to taste.

Peel beetroot then shave thinly using a mandoline slicer, or the thin slicing attachment on a food processor. Season with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, separating the slices so each one is well-coated. Arrange beetroot on 4 individual serving plates in an overlapping circle, leaving a space in the middle for the avocado.

Peel avocado and mash with a fork, adding salt, olive oil, lemon juice and pepper to taste. Divide between the four plates, piling into the middle. Top with the salmon, then garnish with the chives, balsamic glaze and freshly ground pepper.

Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a light main dish

Asian Salmon Salad

This light main course was served by my son and daughter-in-law when I spent three nights with them in Sydney last month. Light, delicious and healthy.

4 salmon portions, about 180g each
2 tsp vegetable oil
8 cups lettuce, or mixed salad greens, in bite-size pieces
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, halved, de-seeded and sliced
1 avocado, sliced
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs hoisin or oyster sauce
1 Tbs rice wine vinegar
1 Tbs honey or brown sugar
2 Tbs water
1 clove garlic, crushed
Sesame Dressing:
1 Tbs soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1½ Tbs white vinegar
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp honey or sugar
To garnish:
1-2 tsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1 spring onion, thinly sliced or red onion

Remove skin from salmon and discard, then cut salmon into bite-sized pieces. Mix the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl, add salmon and mix.

Shake sesame dressing ingredients in a jar then mix with the lettuce. Divide between 4 individual salad bowls and top with the tomatoes, cucumber and avocado.

Heat vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan. Remove salmon from the sauce and add to the pan in one layer. Keep the sauce. Cook salmon for a minute on each side, then arrange on top of the salads. Add sauce to the pan and cook for 30 seconds, or until syrupy. Spoon over the salmon. Garnish with sesame seeds and onion and serve immediately.

Serves 4

Salmon with Ginger and Sweet Chilli Sauce

This recipe is so easy, I have never bothered to include it in this blog.

I’m going to do so today, for two reasons. Firstly it’s a favourite in our house, so I make it at least once a fortnight and sometimes once a week. Secondly, if I serve it to guests they invariably ask for the recipe.

2 portions salmon, skin on or off
1 Tbs grated fresh ginger (see note below)
1 Tbs Thai sweet chilli sauce
Lemon to garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a shallow baking tray with baking paper.

Pat the salmon fillets dry and arrange on the tray. Mix ginger and chilli sauce and spread evenly over the tops of the salmon. Bake for 8-10 minutes. We like our salmon pink in the middle. If liked, cook longer.

Serve garnished with lemon, with an Asian Coleslaw or steamed green vegetable.

Serves 2

Note: Peel half a kilo or more of fresh ginger, then chop very finely in food processor. Freeze in ice cube trays, pressing down to fill. When frozen, tip into a ziplock bag or container and freeze. Just take out one cube at a time. Perfect for stir-fries and marinades.

Salmon Carpaccio with Fennel Salad & Sweet Onions

We met Sharon and François while we were all living in Kuala Lumpur in the mid-1980s. They have retired to Menton, in the south-east of France and in September we spent a couple of days with them. It’s a beautiful spot on the French Riviera, just a 20-minute drive from Monaco.

They often stroll across the border from Menton to Ventimiglia, the first town on the Italian side of the border, to have coffee, it’s that close. Every Friday there’s an open-air market in Ventimiglia and, as our last day happened to be a Friday, guess where we went. After strolling around the market and buying a few bargains we were ready for lunch. Francois and Sharon had booked a table at their favourite bistro, Geppy’s.

I ordered the Salmon Carpaccio, served with a fennel salad and sweet onions. This is my interpretation. The photo shows a fairly large serving as I made it for lunch rather than as a starter.

About 250-300g gravlax, thinly sliced (bought or home-made)
1 bulb fennel, thinly shaved
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp honey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Sweet onions:
2 large onions, halved then thinly sliced
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs white balsamic or white wine vinegar
A pinch of salt
2 tsp sugar
To garnish:
Snipped chives and some fennel fronds
Black salt or black sesame seeds
2-3 Tbs mayonnaise mixed with a little wasabi paste, to taste

Make the sweet onions. Heat olive oil in a frying pan, add the onions and cook slowly for 20-30 minutes or until soft but pale in colour, stirring often. Add the vinegar, salt and sugar and continue to cook for a further 15 minutes, or until the onions are very tender. Cool.

Arrange salmon decoratively in the centre of two serving plates (four if you are doing starters). Mix the fennel with the oil, lemon juice, honey and seasoning. If preferred, use your favourite salad dressing instead. Arrange the fennel around the salmon and arrange some of the onions in the middle of the salmon. Garnish with black salt or black sesame seeds, a few blobs of mayonnaise mixed with wasabi and some snipped chives and fennel fronds.

Serves 2 for lunch or 4 as a starter

Substitutes: use smoked salmon instead of gravlax

Salmon with Green Mango Salad

You can’t buy green mangoes in the two local supermarkets I frequent. When I go to a Middle Eastern shop a bit further afield which sells them I always buy a few when they are in season. Green mangoes are a particular variety, smaller and thinner than the sweet ones. If you can’t find green mangoes, buy some very underripe ordinary ones. You don’t want soft mushy flesh, it needs to have a bite to it.

This salad is perfect without the salmon as part of a buffet. If you don’t like things too hot, leave out the chilli or use less.

Tamari is gluten-free, so it’s a good option for celiacs.

3 Tbs fish sauce
¼ cup lime or lemon juice
1 or 2 Tbs brown sugar, honey or maple syrup, to taste
2 tsp Thai sweet chilli sauce
¼ cup dry unsweetened coconut flakes
2-3 firm green mangoes
2-3 cups beansprouts
½ cup coarsely chopped coriander
1/3 cup coarsely chopped basil
3-4 spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 small red chilli, thinly sliced (optional)
¼ cup peanuts or coarsely chopped cashews
4 salmon pieces
2 Tbs finely chopped or grated fresh ginger
2 Tbs tamari or sweet chilli sauce

Place all ingredients for dressing in a jar with a lid and shake vigorously.

Place coconut in a dry frying pan and stir fry for 2-3 minutes or until light golden. Cool. In the same pan stir fry the nuts until starting to colour ,then cool.

Peel the mangoes, cut the flesh into thin slices, then cut these into long thin julienne strips. I used a vegetable peeler to make the strips you can see in the photo. Place in a large bowl with the beansprouts, fresh herbs (saving a few of each to garnish), spring onions and half the coconut. Add enough dressing to moisten, then tip onto a serving plate. Garnish with the reserved herbs and coconut and sprinkle with the nuts.

Meanwhile, arrange salmon pieces on a shallow baking tray lined with baking paper. Preheat oven to 200°C. Mix ginger with tamari or sweet chilli sauce and spread over the top of each piece of salmon. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cooked to your liking. I like it pink in the middle, but if you like it well done cook for 15 minutes.

Serve the salmon with the salad on the side.

Serves 4

Salmon, Preserved Lemon & Cucumber on Cauliflower Cream

This dish was inspired by a starter we were served at a black tie dinner at the Commonwealth Club in Canberra. It was created by Executive Chef, Mr Karl Krautler.

Karl used salmon confit while I used home-made salmon gravlax. I added some pickled radish slices and a few pink peppercorns and made larger servings to serve as a light main course. This quantity is enough for two light mains or four starters.

There’s a recipe on this blog for Gravlax which you can use in this dish – slice thickly then cut into small cubes. Or use what I call my quick Gravlax. Just buy between two and four salmon portions (preferably without skin) and put them in a plastic container with a tablespoonful each of sugar and salt and maybe a small slug of gin or vodka (optional). Refrigerate for 2-3 days, turning once or twice, then pat dry, wrap with clingfilm and use within a day or so or freeze. Very useful for all sorts of dishes, including canapés.

1 small cauliflower or ½ large
2-3 Tbs cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
250-300g cubed salmon Gravlax (see above for link)
1 Lebanese cucumber, half the peel removed (if preferred remove it all)
¼ preserved lemon
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2-4 tsp lemon or lime juice, to taste
Sliced pickled radishes (see note below)
2-3 tsp pink peppercorns
A few micro-herbs or tiny rocket leaves
Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle

Break cauliflower into florets, place in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Cook for 15 minutes or until tender then drain and blend in food processor with the cream and seasoning.

When cool spread some cauliflower cream on two serving plates (or four if doing starters). Discard pulp from the preserved lemon, then finely dice the skin. Mix with the salmon, oil and lemon juice. Arrange the salmon evenly over the cauliflower cream, then decorate with the cucumber (seeds removed, cut into chunks), radish slices (whole or halved), pink peppercorns and micro-herbs. Drizzle a little oil around each serving.

Serves 2-4

Pickled radishes: thinly slice 1 or 2 bunches of radishes (discarding the ends) and place in an empty jar. Heat ½ cup each sugar, water and vinegar in a saucepan with a tsp mustard seeds. Pour over the radish slices. Keep in the fridge. Give them a few days to mature before use.

Smoked Salmon with Ricotta and Asparagus

I’m always on the lookout for tasty, low carb lunches which can be made quickly. During the asparagus season we often have this easy combo. Aldi sells a fresh creamy ricotta in a 500g plastic container like a sieve, which we really like. It’s enough to make this recipe two or three times. Often the simplest of recipes are the best.

The smoked salmon rolls are quite filling, so if preferred use only two slices and less ricotta filling, to make them smaller.

6 slices smoked salmon
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese (or substitution see below)
2 Tbs chopped chives
Balsamic Glaze
10-12 spears of fresh asparagus
Kewpie mayonnaise or butter (optional)

Place 3 slices of smoked salmon on a chopping board, slightly overlapping, to make a rough circle or square. Mix the ricotta with the chives and season if you like – I don’t find it’s necessary. Place half the mixture on the smoked salmon in a sausage shape in the middle, then roll up into a neat package. Repeat and place one on each of 2 serving plates. Meanwhile cook the asparagus for about 6 minutes in boiling water, drain and pat dry. Arrange asparagus on the plates. Drizzle a little balsamic glaze over the smoked salmon packages. Serve with kewpie mayonnaise or butter on the asparagus.

Serves 2

Substitutions: soft goat’s cheese, queso fresco in South America, cottage cheese.

Easy Peasy Salmon Sushi

Salmon sushi make a quick and tasty, not to mention healthy meal, especially if you make them using an ice cube tray. I made the rice cakes a bit too tall, so the ratio of rice to salmon wasn’t quite right. Next time I won’t fill the ice cube holes so full.

1 cup sushi rice
1¼ cups water
1-2 Tbs Mirin
1-2 Tbs Rice Wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 salmon fillets, skin removed
To serve:
Black sesame seeds
Wasabi paste
Soy sauce
Pickled Ginger
Sliced avocado

Place rice and water in a saucepan with a good pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Cover and turn down the heat as low as possible. If you have a heat diffuser use it under the pan. Cook rice for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat and let it sit for 15 minutes to continue cooking in the steam.

Oil an ice cube tray – I used a spray can. You may need more than one ice cube tray depending on how many holes it has. Fill with the rice, pushing down firmly, then refrigerate for a couple of hours or more.

To serve, tip out the rice cakes and arrange them on a serving tray. Thinly slice the salmon and drape a piece over each rice cake. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds.

Serve with wasabi paste, soy sauce, pickled ginger and sliced avocado.

Makes 16-20 sushi to serve 2-3 as a light meal or more as an aperitif.

Two days and three nights in Orange

The town of Orange is three and a half hour’s drive north of where we live in Canberra. It has a pleasant climate, lots of good restaurants and is somewhere we’ve been meaning to visit for some time.

We recently booked a pet-friendly B & B, so we could take our golden retriever, Serek, and headed off for a long-overdue catch-up with friends who joined us from Sydney. The drive from Sydney to Orange, driving west, also takes about three and a half hours.

The first night we dined at the Peacock Room at the Oriana Motel. As we walked through the garden to the entrance we were greeted by the owner, a tall friendly Norwegian called Espen Harbitz, who has made his home in Orange. He invited us to make the most of the balmy summer weather and join some guests who were enjoying an aperitif at tables set out under the trees.

The meal was excellent, especially Espen’s Gravlax, so I emailed after we arrived home and asked if he was willing to share his recipe. He did so with alacrity. It’s the same as mine, but with one addition: a cup of Aquavit. So I ordered a side of salmon online from Huon Salmon (which has great colour and flavour) and a bottle of Aquavit from Nick’s Wine Merchants and the result was delicious.

To make Espen’s Gravlax follow my recipe but add a cup of Aquavit (or vodka) to the mixture of salt, sugar, pepper and dill used to cure the fish. In the photo below I served it with sweet mustard sauce (recipe is with the Gravlax recipe) and toasted sourdough, as an aperitif.

Next day we enjoyed an excellent lunch accompanied by superb wines at Sister’s Rock restaurant at the Borrodell Vineyard.

There are plenty of interesting things to do in the region, including a wander around the picturesque heritage town of Millthorpe and a visit to the Orange Botanic Gardens.

Dinner on our last evening was at The Schoolhouse restaurant in the old Union Bank building. Inspired by my light beetroot starter, I created the dish you can see in the photo below, using macadamia hummus as a base (use macadamias instead of cashews and soak them longer), topped with wedges of cooked and pickled beetroot, thin slivers of radish, a few toasted macadamia halves and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. A thin lengthwise slice of a home-grown zucchini (use a vegetable peeler), some parsley, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a grind of pepper completed the plate.

Potato Cakes with Smoked Salmon

Our potato crop has just started so I put these delicious potato cakes on the menu for a light lunch last weekend. They originate in Scandinavia and when we were living in Copenhagen we ordered them quite often in restaurants.

They don’t contain any flour making them gluten free, which is good news for readers who avoid eating wheat and other grains.

500g potatoes
1 small onion, grated (optional)
1 egg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive or vegetable oil to fry
To serve:
Smoked Salmon or Trout
Sour Cream
Snipped chives

Peel potatoes and coarsely grate by hand or using a 0.5cm attachment on your food processor, transferring to a large bowl of cold water as grated. Soak potatoes for a couple of minutes then drain well in a colander. Spread potatoes on a tea towel and roll up. Twist towel tightly over the sink, to remove as much liquid as possible.

Transfer grated potato to a bowl and mix in the grated onion (if using), egg, salt and pepper. Heat ¼ cup oil in a large nonstick frying pan over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches of four, spoon 2 tablespoons potato mixture per potato cake into frying pan, spreading into 3-inch rounds with a fork. Reduce heat to moderate and cook for 4-5 minutes, until undersides are browned. Turn over and cook for 4-5 minutes more. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season lightly with salt. Add more oil to pan as needed. Keep potato cakes warm on a wire rack over a shallow baking pan in a low oven. Leftovers can be reheated in a low oven.

Serve potato cakes with smoked salmon or trout, sour cream and chives and cracked pepper.

Makes 6-8 cakes serving 3-4