I am a recent convert to crispy fish skin. If cooked correctly, it can be delicious – great flavour, great texture, what isn’t to like? The one downside is that cooking fish in a pan to achieve crispy skin is a bit of an act of faith. Once the salmon is in the pan, you have to avoid moving it until you are ready to flip it for the best results. It took me a couple of tries to find the best temperature to cook the fish at to ensure both that the fish was cooked to perfection and the skin was no longer slimy. There are few things more disappointing than looking forward to getting a mouthful of delicate fish with crispy skin and discovering that it is still slippery and oily.
The beautiful thing about pan searing salmon is that the skin acts as an insulator for the fish. This means that the fish doesn’t end up being overcooked and rubbery. The layer of fat between the skin and the fish melts down and helps fry the skin while the flesh of the salmon is gently heated until it is cooked just how you like it. One thing to remember is that if you prefer your salmon on the rare side, you will want to use a higher temperature pan so you do not have to cook it for so long and the skin will still be nice and crispy while the inside is still translucent.
Couscous is an underrated food. It is made by rolling semolina into tiny pellets and sprinkling them with flour to keep them separate. It can be eaten both hot and cold and, owing to its absorbent nature, you can put all kinds of flavourings with it. The lemon and coriander in this recipe helps keep it nice and fresh and the almonds give a good crunch but you can add vegetables to it if you like. Finely chopped pepper, onion and spices can give your couscous a more Mediterranean taste and it isn’t uncommon for people to add small cubes of cooked meat to it. Leftovers can be made into salads or just eaten as a snack!
This recipe uses traditional instant couscous. It is very quick and simple to prepare and is ready in around the same amount of time as the salmon so everything can be served together. I have also used rice to replace the couscous. Personally I prefer the couscous version as rice takes longer to cook and also absorbs flavours differently. Using couscous results in a much lighter meal which is nice as it leaves you able to do things after eating instead of curling up into a ball and going to sleep. That being said, the recipe still works very well with rice which is great if you are gluten free.
Crispy skin brings another texture to the plate and is so wonderful to eat. I hope you enjoy the recipe!
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Cost per portion: £2.75
2 salmon fillets
30g fresh coriander
190ml weak vegetable stock
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp vegetable oil
30g flaked almonds (optional)
Place the almonds in a dry frying pan and heat, stirring regularly.
Once the almonds look golden, pour them into a bowl and set aside. Keep the pan for future steps, it doesn’t need to be washed up yet.
Finely chop the coriander, place in a bowl and stir in one tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
Finely chop the garlic, zest the lemon and place it all into the frying pan with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
Turn the heat on and the moment the garlic starts to brown, add in the vegetable stock and squeeze half the lemon into it.
Once the stock is boiling, pour it over the couscous. Stir to make sure none of the couscous is still dry, cover with a plate and set aside.
Remove the salmon from its packaging and pat down the skin side to remove excess liquid. Sprinkle with a little salt – if you have sea salt, this is even better than the regular stuff!
Put the vegetable oil into the frying pan. Once the oil is very hot and starts to look slightly shimmery place the salmon fillets in, skin side down. Lay them away from you so if the oil splashes at all, it will splash away from you, so you won’t get burned.
You now have to leave the salmon until it’s cooked about 80% of the way through, you can keep an eye on it by watching the line where the salmon goes from translucent to opaque move up the fish. Do not touch and move it as this will prevent the skin from crisping up.
Once the salmon is in the pan, boil the kettle and start to cook the spinach. If it is fresh, you only need to dunk it in boiling water for around 30 seconds, but if you are using frozen spinach you should place the spinach along with a tablespoon of water into a pan with a lid and cook until the spinach has all thawed, is hot and ready to eat.
Once the salmon is cooked around 80% through, flip it flesh side down in the pan.
Check on the couscous. It should have absorbed all of the liquid by now. If it is a little cool, place it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir through the almonds reserving a few for garnishing the meal.
Place the couscous onto a plate and add the spinach on top.
Remove the salmon from the pan and lay it skin side up on top of the couscous. Drizzle with the coriander oil and scatter with the remaining flaked almonds.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe. If you fancy a light dessert, why not try making some meringues? They are super crisp, full of air and pair beautifully with cream and fruits. Why not make it a three-course meal and add a starter? My tomato and red pepper soup is wonderfully fresh and will set you up nicely for the rest of the food that’s coming – it can also be a great lunch if you don’t have time to do more than heat something up as it keeps very well in the freezer!
Have a good one and I will be back next week with another cake recipe.