Sesame and poppy seed crusted salmon with courgette spaghetti

April 20, 2012

A crisp coating of sesame and poppy seeds gives texture to
the soft salmon, alongside fresh courgette spaghetti

This fresh, Asian inspired dish is a lovely light but filling meal simple enough for a midweek dinner but pretty enough to impress guests.


Serves 2

2 large courgettes
1 lime
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
splash of sesame oil
splosh of chili oil
splish of soy sauce
2 salmon fillets, mine were about 150g per serving
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp poppy seeds
salt and pepper

Using a very sharp, thin knife slice your courgettes length ways into strips that are about half a cm thick. Then slice the 'planks' of courgette into very think spaghetti strands that are, again, about half a cm thick. You can go thinner to create a more delicate strand but they will be very delicate and may break when cooked, I find this thickness is just right to give to a nice slippery cooked courghetti strand.

Place all of your courghetti into a large bowl and squeeze over the juice of your lime. To get more juice out of the lime, before you cut it roll it on a hard surface with a firm pressure form the palm of your hand. This releases more juices by breaking up some of the internal flesh before you squeeze it out.

Drizzle over some sesame and chili oil and season with salt and pepper. You can then cover these and put them aside whilst you prepare your salmon. I wouldn't prepare these much long than an hour or two in advance, as they are such a soft vegetable and cut so thin, they may oxidise and go brown, though the lime should stop that, or over marinate and go mushy.

To make the seed crusted salmon first prepare your fillets. For this recipe you need to remove the skin, the seeds will provide a crisp 'skin' and its nice to have a lovely soft underbelly to the cooked fillet.

To remove the skin start at the narrow end of the fillet, if there is one, and grab hold of the skin, This might be trick if there is a lot of flesh on at the end. If you cannot grab the skin alone then hold the end of the fillet against the board flesh side up with your fingertips and scrape the knife away from you between the skin and the flesh until you have a good hold. The skin is pretty tough so you should have no trouble doing this without breaking the skin.
Continue to scrape the knife against the skin using a slight sawing action to peel the skin away from the fillet, make sure the knife is right up against the skin so you don't loose any of the lovely pinky orange flesh.

When you have your skinless fillets, trim the sides of any raggedy bits these trimmings can be kept and frozen to add to a fish pie (keep an eye out for an amazing fish pie recipe soon!). You now have your lovely fillets ready to seed. Sprinkle your poppy and sesame seeds on a plate and given them a mix so that they are evenly dispersed, shake over some fresh milled pepper as well. If you are cooking the fillets immediately then also add in some sea salt but if you;re intending to keep them in the fridge for up to an hour then hold off on the salt. Salting the fish now will draw out the moisture and leave you with dry fish later on, just remember to season them with salt before you cook them instead.

Press you fillet into the seed mixture with the 'skin' side down, your seed crust is replacing the skin to make sure you put it on the correct side.

Heat a large frying pan with a little cooking oil, sunflower is fine, on the hob to a medium-high heat. You want to get a good crisp on the skin to begin the cooking process. Lay the fish into the oil away from you and let it sizzle for 2-3 mins. Gentle lift the edge of the fish to check the colour on the seeds, you want the sesame to be golden but not brown, turn the fish over for about 30 seconds for to lightly colour the underside of the fillet then turn the fish back onto its seeded side, turn the heat off under the pan and move the pan to a cold stove ring. The fish will continue to cook in the residual heat of the pan, with the the seed crust protecting it for the any fierce heat, leaving you with a beautifully cooked, juicy fillet.

Heat a wok with a little sunflower oil in it until its good and hot, add your garlic and ginger and give the pan a shake. 30 seconds after adding the ginger and garlic add the courghetti. You don't want the garlic and ginger to burn in the hot oil, it will cook with the courghetti and give a fresh intense flavour. Sprinkle over the soy sauce which should bubble and reduce in the pan, stir fry the courghetti for 5-6 min until tender but still holding its shape.

Serve the courghetti as you would spaghetti, twirling it around the plate and lay the seeded salmon on top. Season with a little extra salt and pepper, sesame oil and chili oil if you like a little extra heat.

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