This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, our theme is Tropical Delights. I love food that transports me to the tropics any time, and enjoying the tail end of summer here in New Zealand right now, this was the perfect theme to get excited about.
I've holidayed several times in Bali, and also in Queensland (Australia), and on such occasions nearly the first thing I do as soon as I get off the plane is find a good fruit stall and stock up on papaya, mango and pineapple. These are pretty much my all time favourite fruits, but as none of them are really grown here in New Zealand, indulging in them is at best a rare treat. Set me down in a tropical destination, however, and you will find me literally gorging on them every day for the duration of my stay.
As most of you will know, our current guest chef, Donna Hay, is based in Australia where tropical fruit is abundant at this time of year. Little surprise then that the latest summer issue of Donna Hay magazine is positively groaning with tropically-inspired fare - seriously, I was just about drooling over every single page. But the dish that really leapt out at me was Donna's Salmon with Papaya Salad & Pink Grapefruit Dressing. Of course Donna's styling is always stunning, but I found the picture of her crispy skinned salmon, alongside a gorgeous wedge of orange-fleshed papaya, garnished with lotus root chips and Thai basil leaves particularly captivating - the kind of dish I could easily imagine myself eating on a steamy evening, sitting on the terrace of one of my favourite Balinese restaurants.
Of course, I live in Nelson, New Zealand, not some tropical island paradise, so I couldn't find a ripe papaya last week for love nor money. Ditto Thai basil leaves. Also lucked out on the mango root, which they do often stock in the freezer of my local Asian supermarket, but the one day I want some ... nada!
So, what's a girl to do when obsessed with a certain dish and ingredients aren't available? Improvise of course. Mango seemed like a good alternative to papaya. I could use some peppery rocket leaves and mizuna instead of Thai basil and Chinese spinach. I also decided that since the salad had a pink grapefruit dressing, some grapefruit segments in the salad would be a nice addition, and I also added some edamame to make the salad a little more substantial. In fact, even without the salmon, the resulting salad would make a delicious, light meal in its own right.
Salmon with Mango, Edamame &
Pink Grapefruit Salad Recipe
Adapted from recipe by Donna Hay
From Feb/Mar 2014 issue of Donna Hay magazine
2x skin-on, bone out salmon fillets
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1x firm mango, ever so slightly under-ripe, peeled and cut into wedges
1x pink grapefruit, peeled & cut into segments (membrane removed)
3/4 cup shelled edamame
2x generous handfuls of peppery leaves such as rocket, cress, mizuna
juice of 1x pink grapefruit
2 tablespoons grated palm sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 cm (3/4 in) piece of ginger, finely grated
Begin by making the dressing. Place all the dressing ingredients in a small jar and shake vigorously to combine. Set aside.
Put vegetable oil in a non-stick frypan set over medium heat. Season salmon with salt and pepper, and once pan is heated, place salmon in the pan skin side down. Cook for 2-3 minutes, before turning over and cooking for approximately one more minute or until done to your liking.
While salmon is cooking, place all the salad ingredients in a medium bowl and toss gently to combine.
To serve, arrange salad on serving plates, drizzle with the dressing, and top with the salmon.
This was a wonderful dish, full of great flavours and textures, and washed down with an excellent gewurtztraminer loaded with tropical flavours of lychee and papaya, it wasn't hard to close my eyes and imagine myself in some island paradise.
If you would like to get to know Donna Hay a little better, and to see all the fabulous tropical delights my friends have come up with, then do go visit I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links.
I'll also be sharing this post this week at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the lovely Michelle at Ms. enPlace, Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth at Beth Fish Reads, and at Foodie Fridays hosted by Designs by Gollam.