I had a birthday recently, so Maggie suggested that I select a special dish for dinner. I suspect she was hoping for something that approximated pepper steak. It turned out to be a case of “be careful what you wish for”! Or, so she feared; not big on fish, my wife!
Although our recipe collection’s title for this dish is a little bland, I think it is quite an interesting way to prepare Atlantic salmon, with dinner party qualities. We only make it every couple of years but, based on the variations I introduced this time, it might appear on our dinner table more often in future.
Perhaps I could indulge myself and give it a French name, say ‘Deux filets de saumon appariés, farcies aux herbes et cuite au four’.
2 x 600g fillets of salmon, skin on, bones removed (ideally, the fillets will be similar in size, taken towards the tail end and from opposite sides of a whole fish)
salt and pepper
¼ cup capers (optional)
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
8 anchovy fillets
rind of ¼ of a preserved lemon
2 handfuls of fresh herbs, eg parsley, chives, basil, tarragon, dill
30ml olive oil
olive oil, extra for glazing
- Grate the lemon rind of one of the lemons and set aside. Juice the lemons and pour juice into a dish wide enough to hold both salmon fillets.
- Score the salmon skin with a sharp knife at 2cm intervals and place the fillets in the lemon juice for 15 minutes, turning after 10 minutes. Remove fillets, pat dry with paper towel and season with a little salt and pepper.
- Preheat oven to 180C.
- On a chopping board, squash the capers, if using, with the flat of a knife. Place garlic, anchovies, preserved lemon and herbs on the same board and chop all ingredients finely, mixing as you go. Tip into a bowl and combine with lemon zest, several grinds of pepper and the olive oil to make a thick paste.
- Lay the salmon fillets side by side, flesh side up, spread paste over one fillet and place the second fillet over the other with the skin side up. Gently secure the fillets together with kitchen string.
- Place on a sheet of baking paper in a large shallow baking dish, brush with some olive oil and season well. Bake for about 25 minutes, turning after 15 minutes.
- Allow to cool slightly. Using a sharp, serrated knife, slice into 6 to 8 portions.
So, to the variations. We excluded the capers, on the basis that we don’t use them often enough any more to warrant having some in our fridge; this allowed the herbs to shine brightly. And I placed some well-cooked brown rice and cherry tomatoes around the base of the ban; starch and tomato, in some form, are both natural partners for this dish.
Any leftovers make a superb topping for an open sandwich on a light rye bread or similar, as I am enjoying this weekend.