Ottolenghi’s Rice Salad with Nuts, Sour Cherries & Grilled Salmon

While staying with our son and daughter-in-law in London they served this unusual rice salad from Yotam Ottolenghi’s latest cookbook Plenty More.

It’s delicious on its own, but they served it on individual plates, topped with a portion of pan-fried salmon with crispy skin. For a recent buffet dinner I made one and a half times the rice salad, then baked a one kilo side of skinned and deboned salmon (from Costco), brushed with Thai sweet chilli sauce, at 200°C for 8-10 minutes and placed it on top of the salad. I prepared all the ingredients for the salad earlier in the day and mixed everything together 10 minutes before serving. The salmon can be hot or at room temperature.

I couldn’t find wild rice in Coles, Woolworths or Aldi. The health food store had a packet of 125g for $9.95 which works out at $80 a kilo. Ridiculous! Black rice, which costs around $10 a kilo can be found in all major supermarkets in Australia. It’s a very good substitute and a great colour contrast to the basmati, so I used that.

Ottolenghi cooks the basmati rice by the absorption method. I prefer to cook it in plenty of boiling water, the same as the wild/black rice and the quinoa, so you have more control over when to stop the cooking process. You want all the grains to have a bit of bite to them – al dente as the Italians say.

1 cup wild rice or black rice
1¼ cups basmati rice
4 Tbs olive oil
2/3 cup quinoa
60g almonds, skins on, coarsely chopped
60g pine nuts
3 Tbs sunflower oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2/3 cup chopped basil leaves
1/3 cup chopped tarragon leaves
2 cups rocket leaves
2/3 cup dried sour cherries (I bought them in Costco)
¼ cup lemon juice
Grated rind 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Grilled salmon portions to serve (optional)

Place wild rice in a pan, cover with plenty of water, bring to the boil then simmer for 35 minutes until cooked but firm. Drain, rinse under cold water, drain again. Cook basmati rice in plenty of boiling salted water until cooked but firm. Drain, rinse and drain.

Cook quinoa in boiling water for 9 mins then drain, rinse and leave to drain. Place the almonds and pine nuts in a small frying pan with one tablespoonful of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook stirring until just starting to colour then set aside. Heat sunflower oil in a large frying pan and add the onions, a pinch of salt and some ground black pepper. Cook over high heat for 5-8 minutes, stirring often, until onions are soft with a few crispy bits. Drain on paper towels.

In a large salad bowl place all the grains, chopped herbs, rocket, fried onion, nuts and sour cherries. Add the lemon juice and zest, the remaining 3 Tbs olive oil, the garlic, half a teaspoon of salt (or to taste) and some pepper. Mix well then stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve the salad as it is or topped with grilled, pan fried or baked salmon.

Serves 8

Substitutions: 

  • use dried cranberries instead of sour cherries
  • use black rice or brown rice instead of wild rice
  • use skinned almonds if that’s all you have
  • use more parsley and basil if you don’t have any tarragon
  • if you don’t have any quinoa just leave it out

Salmon en Croute with Dill Mayonnaise

This recipe takes a little longer than most of the recipes on this blog, but it’s really not that complicated and an elegant way to feed a crowd.

I bought the salmon at Costco because their salmon never has any bones in it. If there’s one job I really hate it’s removing salmon bones with tweezers. In Australia puff pastry comes in pre-rolled squares which measure about 25x25cm. If you live somewhere it’s sold in a block you will need enough to roll out to a rectangle which is a bit bigger than double the size of the salmon.

1 side of salmon (skinless and boneless)
Puff pastry (I used three 25x25cm squares)
2 leeks
1 bunch spinach
50g butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
To serve:
1 cup mayonnaise (preferably home made)
1 bunch dill, stalks discarded

Clean leeks to remove any grit then chop finely, using all the white part and some of the green. Heat half the butter in a frying pan and cook leeks gently, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until soft but not brown. Add cream and cook until evaporated. Season to taste. Wash spinach and remove stalks. Place in a large saucepan with just the water clinging to the leaves and cook, stirring, until wilted right down. Place in food processor with the remaining butter and process to a slightly chunky puree. Season to taste. Prepare the leeks and spinach the day before and keep refrigerated.

Roll out pastry. I used three ready-rolled squares. Two squares stuck together and one square cut in half and stuck together lengthwise then joined onto the two big squares along the long side. Roll over the joins with a rolling pin so they stick. If using a block of pastry you will need to roll it out thinly to a rectangle slightly larger than twice the size of the salmon. Place pastry on a lightly greased baking tray – I used the shallow oven tray which came with my oven. If liked, line the tray first with baking paper.

Spread the leek mixture down the centre of the pastry in the shape of the salmon, then lay the salmon on top and cover with the spinach. Make sure the salmon is covered entirely by the leeks on the bottom and the spinach on the top. Fold in the two ends of the pastry which should be 2-3 cm longer than the fish. Cut diagonal slashes into the pastry on the two sides as far as the salmon, then bring them in alternately to create a pseudo-plait, pinching the ends together. If it doesn’t look like a work of art, don’t worry it will look amazing when it’s cooked. If liked, arrange a row of diamond shapes, made from pastry off-cuts, down the join in the middle, to cover any imperfections. Refrigerate until serving time.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush pastry all over with beaten egg. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until well-browned. Place mayonnaise and dill in food processor and process until smooth.

Serve slices of the salmon pie with the dill mayonnaise. New potatoes and a steamed green vegetable such as broccolini, asparagus, green beans or snow peas go well with this.

Serves 8-10

Salmon Tartare with Orange and Passionfruit

This starter, adapted from a recipe I found for smoked salmon, is delicious and light. If you’re a fan of sushi you won’t be put off by the idea of eating uncooked salmon. It really doesn’t taste raw, but you could always use smoked salmon or Gravlax instead of the raw fish.

The flavour combination of salmon, orange and passionfruit is a winner.

About 750g fresh salmon or salmon trout
2 cups fresh or bottled orange juice
1 tsp honey
Pulp from 4-5 passionfruit
2-3 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh dill
Pink Peppercorns

Remove skin then cut salmon into small bite-sized pieces. Refrigerate while you make the sauce. Sieve the orange juice to remove any pulp. You will need 2 cups after sieving. Place in a saucepan and boil to reduce to about two thirds of a cup. Place in a jam jar with the honey, passionfruit pulp, oil and seasonings and shake well. Adjust the amount of passionfruit pulp and oil to taste.

Mix half the dressing with the salmon then divide among the plates in a pile in the middle. Spoon additional dressing over and around the salmon then garnish with the dill and pink peppercorns. You may not need all the dressing.

Serves 6

Variation: to make a more substantial dish add some diced avocado and serve on a bed of lettuce or rocket leaves.

Note: so-called pink peppercorns are not peppercorns at all. They have a very special, slightly perfumed flavour and can be found in specialty cook shops such as The Essential Ingredient. They go well with any salmon dish.

Salmon with Anchovy Garlic Butter and Broccolini

On their own, I’m not a big fan of anchovy fillets. But when they’re mixed into a sauce it’s a different matter. The creamy dressing which goes with Caesar Salad contains anchovies and it just wouldn’t be the same without them.

Salmon is on the menu about once a week in our house. It’s so quick and easy – dinner can be on the table in under 15 minutes. So when I saw this recipe for Salmon with Anchovy Garlic Butter I thought I would give it a try and we weren’t disappointed.

Salmon with Anchovy Garlic Butter and Broccolini2 salmon fillets, approx 180g each
1 Tbs capers
Juice from ½ lemon
Chopped parsley
1 small bunch broccolini, or substitute broccoli
Anchovy Garlic Butter
30g butter (at room temp)
2 anchovy fillets in oil (drained, rinsed and patted dry)
1 small clove garlic, crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a small bowl place all ingredients for the Anchovy Garlic Butter and mash together thoroughly with a fork. Place about half in a small non-stick frying pan and when hot add the salmon fillets, skin side down and cook for 2-3 mins or until the skin is crisp, then turn and cook for 1-2 minutes on each of the other three sides. This will result in salmon which is still a bit pink in the middle. If you like it more well done just increase the cooking time. Towards the end of the cooking add the capers to the pan, so they warm up.

Meanwhile steam broccolini until done then arrange with salmon on serving plates. Put a small amount of the remaining Anchovy Garlic Butter onto each salmon fillet, put the rest into the pan and mix with the pan juices, then spoon over the salmon and broccolini. Squeeze over the lemon juice and sprinkle the salmon with parsley.

Serves 2

Pan Fried Salmon with Spicy Cauliflower “Rice”

When you’ve been cooking as long as I have it’s not often you come across a technique you’ve never seen before. Cooking is a bit like fashion. Old recipes and ingredients are revived and tweaked, but there’s very little that’s totally new.

So as I was flicking through an old Delicious magazine recently and saw a recipe for making cauliflower into rice I thought, now that’s interesting, I wonder if it works? Well it does.

Here the rice is flavoured with coconut milk and cashew nuts and served with pan-fried salmon. But once you have the basic idea of blitzing raw cauliflower in the food processor to make rice you can use different liquids and flavourings and serve it with any meat, fish or even eggs. I know I’ll be trying all sorts of variations. Great for anyone trying to cut down on carbs.

Pan Fried Salmon with Spicy Cauliflower "Rice"2 Tbs coconut oil or vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cinnamon stick
1 cauliflower roughly chopped
1 tsp each ground cumin, turmeric and chilli flakes
400ml can coconut milk
½ cup water
¾ cup roasted cashews
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 x 180g salmon fillets with skin on
1½ Tbs brown mustard seeds (sold in Asian supermarkets)
1 Tbs whole coriander seeds
Juice 1 orange
To garnish:
1 long green chilli, seeded and thinly sliced (can substitute a red chilli)
Coriander leaves

Melt 2 tsp coconut oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add onion and cinnamon and cook, stirring for 3 mins or until golden. Whiz cauliflower in food processor until finely chopped like rice – watch carefully as you don’t want to over-process it. Add to pan with the cumin, turmeric and dried chilli. Cook, stirring for 3 mins then add coconut milk, cashews and water.  Season to taste, then  partially cover and simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 mins or until thick. If not thickened when cooked remove lid and cook a bit more to reduce the liquid.

Melt 2 tsp coconut oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Season salmon then cook, skin-side down, for 4 mins or until skin is crisp. Turn and cook for a further 3 mins or until just cooked. Remove to a plate and keep warm.

To the pan where you cooked the salmon add the remaining 1 Tbs coconut oil and when hot add mustard and coriander seeds and cook for a minute or until they start popping. Remove from heat and stir in the orange juice.

Divide the cauliflower rice among 4 plates. Top with the salmon, spoon over the coriander seed oil. Garnish with the green chilli and coriander leaves.

Serves 4

Potato Cakes with Smoked Salmon & Sour Cream

Over the years I’ve tried lots of recipes for potato cakes, latkes and rostis. Some used whole eggs and plain flour, while others used none of the above. None of them have ever quite hit the mark.

This recipe, based on one from Yotam Ottolenghi, uses egg whites and cornflour and from now on I won’t use any other. He uses a combination of grated potatoes and parsnip, but I used all potatoes and they were delicious. Ottolenghi says to use Desiree potatoes. I used Kipflers from the garden, because that’s what I had, and they worked well.

Serve one potato cake as a starter, or two as a light lunch or supper, perhaps accompanied by a cucumber salad. The potato cakes are best served immediately, but you can make them ahead and reheat them briefly in a hot oven.

Potato Cakes with Smoked Salmon & Sour Cream500-600g peeled potatoes, coarsely grated
2 egg whites
1 rounded Tbs cornflour
1 tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs snipped chives
40g butter
4 Tbs vegetable oil
To serve:
Smoked Salmon
Sour Cream
Chives

Tip grated potatoes onto a clean tea towel, draw in the sides and squeeze to remove as much moisture as possible. Place potatoes in a bowl with the egg whites, cornflour, salt, pepper and chives and mix well.

Heat half the butter and half the oil in a medium non-stick frying pan. Make three or four potato cakes using about 3 Tbs of mixture for each and about half the mixture. Cook for 2-4 mins each side over medium heat, or until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a low oven. Add remaining butter and oil to the pan and make three or four more potato cakes.

Serve potato cakes (one or two per person) topped with smoked salmon, sour cream and a couple of chives.

Makes 6-8 potato cakes

Smoked Salmon with Mango & Avocado

My Swiss friend Esther served this simple but delicious starter for a ladies lunch she hosted. You can use smoked salmon or smoked trout and the recipe is easy to halve for two people. Served with a rocket salad and some crusty bread it’s enough for a light lunch.

Smoked Salmon with Mango & Avocado2 ripe but firm avocados in 1cm dice
1 spring onion (white part and a bit of the green), finely chopped
2 tsp fresh coriander, chopped
Juice of 1 lime or half a lemon
2 ripe but firm mangoes in 1cm dice
1 small red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 slices smoked salmon or trout
To serve:
Lemon or lime wedges
Fresh chives
Extra Virgin olive oil

Arrange four stacking rings on serving plates. Mix avocado with spring onion, coriander and lime or lemon juice. Season to taste then divide among the stacking rings and press down firmly with a spoon. Mix mango with chilli, place on top of the avocado and press down. Top each serving with a slice of smoked salmon or trout. Remove stacking ring then garnish plates with a lemon or lime wedge, a couple of pieces of fresh chive and a drizzle of olive oil.

Serves 4

Maija’s Hot-Smoked Salmon with Mushroom Sauce

On our way back from Europe recently we spent 2 days with our friends Maija and Nestor who live in Turku, on the south western coast of Finland.

Turku was settled in the 13th century, making it the oldest city in Finland. During our brief stay we visited the town, including the museum and the cathedral and spent an afternoon in a motor launch, meandering through the Turku archipelago which consists over over 20,000 islands. Amazing.

On our last evening Maija served a Finnish speciality: Hot Smoked Salmon with Mushroom Sauce, accompanied by potatoes, green beans and dark bread and butter. Maija used wild mushrooms she had bought at the farmer’s market that morning. I’m not sure what they’re called in English, but any combination of unusual mushrooms would work for this sauce. Any leftover fish and mushroom sauce are nice next day on their own or served with scrambled eggs on toast.

Maija's Hot-Smoked Salmon with Mushroom Sauce1 fillet of salmon, skin on, pin bones removed (about 1.2kg)
Olive oil
Curing mix:
2 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs coarse salt
Smoking material:
1 cup Jasmine rice
½ cup Jasmine tea
½ cup brown sugar
Mushroom Sauce:
500g mixed mushrooms (shitake, oyster, enokitake) or just ordinary mushrooms will do
50g butter
1 cup cream or sour cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Mix sugar and salt. Place salmon in a shallow dish and spread the mixture over both sides, then leave to cure for 2-3 hours. Rinse off the salt and sugar mixture, pat fish dry with paper towels, then leave to air dry for an hour or two.

For this recipe you need a kettle BBQ which uses either burners, coals or heat beads. Remove grill plate, give it a good clean then brush it with oil to prevent fish from sticking. Get the BBQ going and while you’re waiting mix the rice, tea and sugar and put it in one of those shallow foil containers you can buy in supermarkets. Place foil container directly on top of the burners and cover the BBQ with the lid. Brush salmon fillet on both sides with olive oil and place it on the clean grill plate. When BBQ has heated to medium heat and you can smell the aroma of the smoking material, place grill plate onto BBQ, shut the lid and let the salmon cook in the smoke for 15 minutes.

Transfer fish to a large plate and set aside to rest. Serve warm or at room temperature with the Mushroom Sauce, boiled new potatoes, green beans and if liked some dark Scandinavian bread and unsalted butter.

Mushroom Sauce: wipe mushrooms, trim and slice or cut into pieces. Don’t cut them too small as the sauce should have some texture. Heat butter in a large frying pan. Add mushrooms and cook gently, stirring often, for 15-20 minutes, or until softened. Add cream and season. Cook, stirring until cream has reduced and thickened a bit. Serve warm.

Salmon in Pastry with Currants and Ginger

Once it’s been passed on a few times, the origins of a recipe are often lost. I haven’t made this recipe for quite some time, but I remember it was given to me by my dear friend Maggie about 15 years ago. We started primary school together, so we go back a long way!

My friend Karen recently gave me two cook books by British cook book writer and critic Simon Hopkinson, called Roast Chicken and Other Stories and Second Helpings of Roast Chicken. As I was reading the first volume, voilà, there was Maggie’s salmon. Hopkinson says it’s his version of “a most famous creation by George Perry-Smith, one of the great pioneers who changed the eating habits of an apathetic British public.” Perry-Smith was greatly influenced by Elizabeth David and made his name at The Hole in the Wall in Bath, which opened in the late 1950s.

You can either make this in individual parcels or one large one and cut it into slices, which is what I decided to do this time. Hopkinson likes to serve it with a hollandaise sauce, lightened with whipped cream, but concedes that the dish is very rich and just as nice served with a wedge of lemon. The combination of crisp pastry, salmon, ginger and currants is unusual, but delicious. A simple watercress salad and some buttered new potatoes are all that you need to complete the meal. The potatoes took longer to cook than I thought they would, which meant that the salmon got a bit over-cooked as you can see in the photo. Next time I will put the potatoes on earlier!

I served the reheated leftovers with my Cucumber Salad which went extremely well.

Salmon in Pastry with Currants and Ginger2 Tbs currants
2 Tbs stem ginger in syrup, drained, or glace ginger
110g butter, at room temperature
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
A pinch of ground mace or nutmeg
375g puff pastry, bought or home-made
8-900g salmon fillet, skinned and boned
1 egg yolk, beaten

Pour boiling water over the currants and leave to swell for 5-10 minutes, then drain and pat dry on paper towels. Mix currants and finely chopped ginger into butter, then add mace or nutmeg and season to taste. Roll out pastry to a size which is slightly longer and wider than the salmon fillet. Lay the pastry on a lightly oiled baking tray. Spread the butter over the salmon fillet, then fold it over on itself lengthwise. Place on pastry, to one side. Fold over the pastry and seal all the way around. Press with the tines of a fork then trim off any excess to give a neat edge. Salmon can be prepared ahead to this stage and kept, loosely covered, in the fridge for up to several hours.

Pre-heat oven to 200°C. Brush salmon with egg yolk then bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown – you don’t want to overcook the salmon. Slice and serve with a wedge of lemon, lightly dressed watercress salad and boiled new potatoes, dressed with a knob of butter and some finely chopped parsley.

Serves 6

Salmon with Bois Boudrain Sauce

We eat salmon fillets about once a week. It’s quick and easy and we love it. Sometimes I spread the fish with a mixture of grated fresh ginger and Thai sweet chilli sauce and bake it in a very hot oven on lightly oiled aluminium foil for about 8 minutes. Other times I pan fry or bake the seasoned salmon and serve it with this sauce, adapted from a recipe by French chef Michel Roux. It’s really just a thick herby, tomatoey vinaigrette.

In 1967 Roux opened Le Gavroche in London with his brother Albert. The restaurant became the first in England to win three Michelin stars. In 1972 they opened The Waterside Inn, which went on to become the first restaurant outside France to hold three Michelin stars for over 25 years and is now run by Michel’s son Alain.

This sauce is great to have in the fridge because it goes with all sorts of things and keeps for at least a week. In fact I think it improves after a day or so. It goes well with roast chicken or steak and is absolutely delicious served in half an avocado. The original version uses tarragon which definitely gives the sauce a distinctive flavour. But fresh tarragon is not always available, so vary the recipe with different herbs and see what you like best.

Salmon with Bois Boudrain Sauce1 cup mixed fresh herbs, loosely packed (see note)
3-4 French shallots, peeled (or substitute one small onion)
¾ cup vegetable oil e.g. canola
2 Tbs white wine vinegar or lemon juice
½ cup tomato ketchup
A few drops of Tabasco
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place chopped onion or shallots in a pan with water, bring to the boil, then drain thoroughly. Place herbs and onion in food processor and chop finely. Scrape into a jar with a lid, add remaining ingredients and shake well to combine. Serve at room temperature on grilled or pan-fried salmon, roast chicken or steak. Keeps in the fridge for up to a week.

Makes about 1.5 cups

Note: the original recipe used chervil, chives and tarragon. In the photo I used dill, parsley and coriander. Use whatever you have available.