Saturday, February 16, 2013

Glazed salmon with avocado-strawberry salsa

Allegedly, Eskimos have a lot of words for snow.  (I don't know if it's true, but it seems like a nice anecdote, so why not believe it and use at parties as a conversation starter.)  I imagine they distinguish between still falling and already fallen snow -- between virgin white & crisp and dirty slush -- between big majestic snowflakes dancing gracefully in the air and the small waterred-down ones dropping in a big rush. 

Similarly, North-Western Europeans should come up with a pretty impressive vocabulary on the types of rain.  After all, they have plenty of empirical evidence to go on.  Whole year long.

Instead of trying to list the fifty shades of grey the sky has had this week, I opted for a different way of coping with the gloomy weather.  Color on my plate!  And nothing adds color better than fresh fruit.

Before & after (FYI: these are avocados, not dragon eggs)

I decided to go for some strawberries, which always remind me of early summer.  I think of warm afternoons I spent at my grandparents' summer house as a kid.  Hiking in the forest or sunbathing near the lake, the gentle breeze of warm air in your hair, idyllic bird singing in the background, and delicious strawberries freshly picked in the orchard. The strawberries didn't look like much -- irregular in shape and not too big -- but the taste was a million times better than that of the store-bought perfectly shaped specimens.

With such memories at hand, it's easy to block out the rainy reality and create summer on your plate.

Fresh strawberries go very well with avocado.  The salsa is a combination of zingy, sweet & tart with creamy and rich.  Walnuts add the crunch and compliment the nuttiness of the avocado, chili flakes add heat, and the lime juice & walnut oil vinaigrette binds the flavors together.

This fresh salsa goes very well with glazed grilled salmon.  Any sweet glaze will work here (e.g. Teriyaki sauce).  The idea is to get some caramelization on the outer side of the salmon, so it does have to to be sweet.  The marinade I used is salty-sweet and smokey and brings out the best natural flavor of the salmon itself.

So go ahead and bring some color to your plate!

Serves 4

  • 4 skinless salmon filets (around 700-800 g)
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 5 large strawberries
  • handful of walnuts (around 60-70 g), roughly chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp of chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp of walnut oil (can be replaced with olive oil)
  • 5 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp od muscovado syrup or molasses
  • 2 tbsp of fig vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • Whisk together the soy sauce, syrup and vinegars.  Pour over salmon filets and rub into the fish.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, ideally for 1.5h.
  • Once soaked in the marinade, grill the salmon on a grill pan with a little bit of olive oil (a few minutes on each side).
  • Peel the avocados and chop in big chunks.  Immediately drizzle with lime juice (half of what you have) -- this will prevent the avocado from turning brown.  Chop the strawberries finely (leaving a few slices for decoration like I did - if you want).  Add to avocado, together with the chopped walnuts and cilantro.
  • Whisk walnut oil with remaining lime juice, chili flakes, salt and pepper.  Drizzle over the salsa.  Combine all salsa ingredients very gently, e.g., by using 2 forks -- be careful not to mash the avocado.  Serve with grilled salmon.

Bon appetit!

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