Salmon and Ginger Fishcakes

My partner’s Christmas presents was a massive Magimix food processor, something I had my eyes on for quite a while. Despite already having a food processor, I hated it. To be perfectly fair, we’d bought it a while ago because I wanted one and, having just moved into a new flat, we went for the cheapest option, Russel Hobbs. I think it probably worked fairly average for the first couple of months and then things started to go a bit pear-shaped. Because of the way it was designed, the plastic tube holding the blades kept on being pushed upwards, thus coming off its base and jamming the whole thing. It took me ages to simply process, let’s say, vegetables and making shortcrust in there was a big no.

Now, I’m in food processor paradise. It may cost 6 times as much, but believe me when I say it’s worth it. I have now made pastry in there and it’s a total delight. User-friendly, very silent (I am still impressed) and extremely easy to clean. This also means I can now tackle the recipes I was a bit worried about before, including fishcakes. This recipe comes from the delicious. magazine online portal and it originally states to mince the fish and the vegetables by hand. I say, “why bother if the food processor can do it for you?” I whipped up these fishcakes in a second. Very easy to make, quite as easy to eat, especially if accompanied by the crunchy salad. A simple recipe for a mid-week supper which can be quickly converted into a packed lunch too.

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Ingredients

  • 400g skinned salmon fillet
  • 2 tbsp minced ginger
  • 4 spring onions
  • 1 red hot chilly, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 red and 1 yellow pepper, finely sliced
  • 250g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • olive oil

Method

  1. Dice the salmon and add to the food processor together with the spring onions and the minced ginger. Pulse and/or process until thoroughly combined. Season well and transfer to a bowl, then cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for about 10 minutes to firm up.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine the lime juice, sugar, fish sauce and rice vinegar with the chopped red chilli. Set aside until needed.
  3. Take the fishcakes mixture out of the fridge, oil your hands with a little bit of olive oil and divide it in about 8 portions, then shape each into a small patty. Heat some oil in a frying pan, then cook each fishcake for a couple of minutes a side.
  4. Arrange the vegetables onto a platter, then lay the cooked fishcakes on top. Drizzle with the reserved dressing and enjoy while warm.

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Salmon & Lentils with a Chorizo and Balsamic Dressing

This is such an easy and yet rewarding dish to make. If you like fish, then you need to at least try this. The dressing itself can easily be adapted and, as a matter of fact, I have amended the original recipe (by Lorraine Pascale), as I found her version to be a bit too unctuous for my taste.

Contrary to what you might think, I do not keep bags of lentils in my kitchen. I find them really hard to cook with. If added to a soup, they tend to stick to the bottom of the pan when left unsupervisioned and ruin the whole thing. This time, however, I used the tinned variety (puy would be best, but green is also fine) and I was very happy with the result. The addition of maple syrup to a dressing might seem odd, although it works wonders here with the balsamic vinegar.

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Ingredients

  • 2 x salmon fillets, skin on (preferably, but mine were perfectly cleaned)
  • 100g chorizo ring, sliced in one-pound coins
  • 100g green beans, ends trimmed off
  • 400g tin of puy/green lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves only, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • pinch of mustard powder
  • salt and black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 tbsp butter

Method

  1. Put a frying pan on a medium to high heat, drizzle some oil and lay the salmon fillets one next to the other. Preferably skin down (if they have their skin on). Cook for about 5 minutes on one side, then flip over and carry on cooking for another 4 minutes on the other side. Adjust your cooking time according to whether you prefer it slightly raw in the middle or well done. Cover the pan with a lid if you see the salmon is cooking only on one side as this will help spreading the heat more evenly.
  2. In the meantime, melt the butter in another frying pan (or in a saucepan), then toss the trimmed green beans over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes, until evenly coated and bright green. Add the chorizo, then reduce the heat to low and cook for about 3 minutes, tossing occasionally.
  3. Add the chopped rosemary and the lentils to the pan with the chorizo and beans and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring every now and then.
  4. Prepare the dressing in a jug by combining the extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, mustard powder and seasoning, then whisking together.
  5. Remove the lentils pan from the heat and spoon some over your plate. Lay the cooked salmon fillets on top, then drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and serve while warm.

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Salmon & Mushroom Parcels

I did find inspiration for this recipe in one of the many Italian cookbooks (cooking encyclopedia, more like it) which I stole from my mum’s house last time I went home. They are full of interesting ideas and I like having a look at them as they remind me of Italy, with its vibrant food scene and great variety of vegetables, fruit, meat and fish. I have to say it would be impossible for me to recreate most of the recipes in there, mostly because I can’t find the necessary ingredients here in the UK. I did manage, though, to settle down on a couple of substitutes. For instance, I usually use German or British smoked cheese instead of fontina, an Italian cow’s milk cheese with a pungent and intense flavour, and shallots (although not difficult to find in the UK) can be easily substituted with spring onions.

I settled down on this recipe because I happened to have some leftover puff pastry in the freezer (who doesn’t?), but the same parcels can also be made with more conventional shortcrust. If you don’t like salmon, then cheese can be a good substitute or, maybe, why not try chicken?

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Ingredients

  • 1 x quantity of puff pastry (about 500g)
  • 3-4 salmon fillets, deskinned and deboned
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • Marsala wine
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil
  • oregano
  • thyme
  • 1 egg, beaten (to glaze)

Method

  1. Start by preparing the mushrooms. First of all, drizzle some olive oil in a frying pan, then add the shallots and gently fry for a couple of minutes until softened. Tumble in the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes. 
  2. When you see that there is very little liquid left on the bottom of the pan, drizzle some Marsala wine in the pan, then scatter some oregano and thyme. Cook for another 3-4 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft and cooked all the way through, but not mushy. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely.
  3. In another pan, gently fry the salmon in some olive oil on both side until slightly coloured. Turn it frequently and don’t let it catch on the bottom. Remove to a plate and gently flake with a fork until shredded. Leave to cool completely.
  4. Roll out your puff pastry to a big sheet on a slightly floured working surface. Using a knife, cut about 8-10 squares, ensuring half of them are slightly bigger.
  5. Take one of the smaller squares and pile some mushrooms on top, then add some of the salmon. Try not to overfill these or the pastry will collapse. Lightly wet the edge with some water, then cover with one of the bigger squares and press the edges to seal. Brush with some egg wash, then place on a prepared baking tray. repeat until you have used all of the filling and the pastry.
  6. Bake the parcels at 200 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes, by which time they will have puffed up and will be nice and golden. Remove to a sheet of kitchen paper to drain of the excess oil, then eat wither warm or cold.

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Salmon & Pancetta Linguine

This recipe reminds me of the Kitchen Cabinet, a BBC Radio 4 podcasts in which food critics and well-known chefs debate culinary topics and give advice on making the best of the seasonal produce and cooking. In one of the episodes, the panel members jokingly suggested that the three main ingredients they would have always suggested to use were pork, cheese and cream. In this case, pancetta and salmon are a perfect match. I am using smoked salmon here, but the trimmings some supermarkets offer would do just as good. As for the pancetta, I usually buy mine cubed directly from the supermarket, but were you as lucky as to have the chance to get it directly from a butcher, then please do so. If you can’t get your hands on pancetta, then lardons is a good substitute. Should that also not be available, use bacon, but please opt for non smoked and rindless.

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Ingredients

  • 300g linguine
  • 70g pancetta cubes
  • 100g smoked salmon
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 3 tbsp sour cream
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • black pepper
  • sea salt (for the boiling water)
  • oil

Method

  1. Put some sea salt in a pan and add water. Bring to the boil, then throw in the linguine and cook according to packet instructions. Stir frequently and keep an eye on the pasta so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan or the linguine don’t melt into a big gluey lump.
  2. In a shallow pan, heat some oil and throw in the pancetta cubes. Stirring occasionally, fry for about 4 minutes. By this time, the pancetta should have crisped up a bit. At this stage I usually remove the pancetta cubes which are just made of fat and don’t contain any meat at all as I don’t like biting into them. I leave them in at the beginning so as to add extra flavour.
  3. Throw in the spring onions and cook for another 5 minutes, until softened, stirring frequently. By then the pancetta will be nice and crispy. Add the smoked salmon slices and cook, stirring, to break them up as soon as they firm up. That shouldn’t take more then 3 minutes. Once that is done, take off the heat.
  4. Put the sour cream in the pan with the sauce ingredients and stir to combine.
  5. Drain the pasta and tumble in with the sauce. Add the parley and a good grinding of black pepper, then give a final stir and serve.

Tips

  • This can also be transformed into a very nice and unusual carbonara. When you are making the sauce, add 50g of frozen peas together with the spring onions and cook for an additional 5 minutes in order to dry any water. When you are draining the pasta, reserve a cup of the boiling water. Tumble the pasta with the reserved pasta water and add 2 egg yolks, then put the pan back on the heat and keep on stirring for 2 minutes, until all the pasta is covered with the sauce. Stir in the parsley and double the amount of black pepper and serve.