Who doesn't love a pot luck dinner? The thing I love about a pot luck is not so much the food - although that is invariably great, the food on such occasions seems almost irrelevant to me. What really floats my boat is the generosity of spirit that prevails and sense of abundance; the willingness of folks to share whatever they have, no matter how little or how simple that might be. With such ingredients, a pot luck dinner can never fail to be a celebration.
And celebrate we will. At I Heart Cooking Clubs we continue to cook with Mark Bittman, and our theme this week is Pot Luck. I always love checking out everyone's contributions to our virtual pot luck dinners, and this Tandoori Salmon is great celebration food and exactly the kind of thing that I would like to share with others.
The salmon itself is unbelievably simple - salmon fillets (need I say, the freshest you can lay your hands on - I used beautiful ocean-farmed fillets from Holy Smoke) are simply marinated in a mixture of tandoori paste (as simple as opening a jar of Pataks) and yoghurt, then pan-fried until done - how easy is that?! You could keep it as simple as serving this with just some steamed Basmati rice, a bit of mango chutney and some crispy pappadums.
However, since this was a celebration I chose to take it up a notch with my accompaniments.
I made a cucumber-mint raita for those that like something cooling and refreshing. Simply finely chop some cucumber, salt liberally, and set in a strainer over a bowl for about an hour. Then rinse throughly to wash off the salt, and squeeze firmly to get rid of any excess water. Mix through some natural yoghurt and add a generous handful of freshly chopped mint. Taste and season with salt if necessary.
Personally I like something with a bit more zing and heat, so I also made a fresh mango salsa. Now there is not much better in life than a beautiful fresh, soft, sweet, juicy perfectly ripe mango - but here I wanted firmer texture to contrast with the soft flesh of the salmon, and I wanted a little tartness, so I used a mango which was slightly on the under-ripe side. After cutting the flesh of the mango into dice, I added a sprinkling of dried chilli flakes (actually a fresh red chilli would have been better, but they're out of season here right now, so dried made a good substitute), juice of 1/2 an orange (if I'd had a lime that would have been better, but use what you have), handful of chopped pistachio nuts, freshly chopped coriander, and a drizzle of olive oil.
With these two side dishes, I also served some crispy pappadums and a bowl of steamed green vegetables. I nestled the salmon on a fluffy bed of steamed Basmati rice, and topped it off with an orange and date mayonnaise - and, let me tell you, this mayonnaise was the real star of the show. I was inspired by an Allyson Gofton recipe I clipped from a magazine some years ago, but long since lost the recipe. Although my recollection of the recipe is a little hazy (I think tandoori salmon was baked and then served on top of roasted red peppers and grilled mango), memories of an orange date mayonnaise that topped the salmon have stayed with me. I loved it back then, and it is exactly what I wanted to recreate here - I hope my version does Allyson justice.
I hope you'll give this a try, and drop by and see what everyone else is bringing to our Pot Luck Dinner at I Heart Cooking Clubs.
Tandoori Salmon Recipe
Adapted from Mark Bittman's
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
180g salmon fillet for each person
1/4 cup natural, unsweetened yoghurt
2 tablespoons Patak's Tandoori Paste
(this amount of marinade would be enough for 4 salmon fillets)
Mix yoghurt and tandoori paste together in a shallow bowl (or you could use a plastic bag), and completely smother the salmon fillets with the mixture. Leave in the fridge to marinate, overnight if possible, but at least 8 hours.
Heat a saute pan over a high heat until pan is very hot. If you have a non-stick pan you will be able to get away with a dry fry, as there will be quite a bit of oil that will come out of the salmon. If not drizzle just about a tablespoon of oil into the hot pan.
Wipe most, but not all, excess marinade off the salmon, and add to the hot pan, skin side down. Cook until the skin is browned and crispy (about 2 minutes), then turn over and cook until salmon is just medium-rare (about another minute or 2). Take care not to overcook.
Serve on steamed Basmati rice, with a spoon of Orange & Date Mayonnaise on top.
Orange & Date Mayonnaise Recipe
Inspired by a recipe by Allyson Gofton
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
1x egg yolk, free range
grated zest of 1/2 orange
2 teaspoons orange juice
1 teaspoon water
neutral flavoured oil (about 1/2 cup)
3x fresh dates
salt to taste
Remove stones from the dates, and then mash up in a mortar and pestle (or food processor if you prefer) until you have a paste. Add the grated zest of the orange and set aside.
In a bowl mix the egg yolk with the orange juice and water, and then start to add oil to the egg yolk mixture a few drops at a time, stirring constantly until each addition of oil is fully amalgamated. Once the yolk starts to thicken a little, you can begin to add the oil in a slow steady stream, until you end up with a thick emulsion.
If it gets too thick thin with a little more orange juice. If your mayonnaise splits add a tablespoonful or two (just add them one at a time) of warm water and stir vigorously until it comes back together again.
Lastly, stir the date paste and orange zest into the mayonnaise until well incorporated, and add salt to taste.
In my opinion, there are few things more magical in the kitchen than the alchemy of transforming egg yolks into mayonnaise. It excites the heck out of me every time and why anyone would want to deny themselves the pleasure of doing this is beyond me. It takes just moments; demands nothing more of you than a bit of vigorous stirring; you know exactly what's in your mayo; and the taste is infinitely superior to any store-bought mayonnaise. That said, if you're really nervous about making your own mayonnaise, or squeamish about raw egg yolks, or just can't be bothered, then go right ahead and use a store-bought mayonnaise and just tart it up with the mashed up dates, orange zest and juice. I, for one, will not hold it against you.
This mayonnaise would be equally good with grilled chicken or barbequed lamb chops, or I can even imagine it going pretty nicely with roasted beetroot. I really enjoyed it the next day slathered on toasted ciabatta bread with avocado.
This post is also submitted to the January 2011 Culinary Smackdown, where the monthly ingredient is salmon, and the which is this month hosted by the lovely Brenda at Brenda's Canadian Kitchen.