Pan fried salmon and warm puy lentil salad with burnt aubergine

salmon-001

This is a flavour explosion. It does take  a bit of time – the aubergine is a bit of a faff, but well worth it. Just make sure you ventilate your kitchen by opening windows and doors and turning on your extractor if you have one (we don’t). Failure to do so will result in a house that smells like a bonfire. Again, this is an Ottolenghi inspired recipe, to be found in Plenty. The method of pan roasting the salmon was taught to me by a very experienced tepanyaki chef who used to cook it nightly in a restaurant called Shiki in Adelaide, and it never fails. Serve it with a chilled bottle of unoaked Chardonnay or a White Burgundy and eat it in the late evening sunshine!

This serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 medium aubergines
  • 2tbsp good quality red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • 200g puy lentils, rinsed
  • 3 small carrots, peeled
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp each of roughly chopped parsley, coriander and dill
  • 2 tbsp fat free natural yoghurt
  • salt and pepper

 

For the Fish

  • 4 organic salmon fillets, skin on
  • knob of butter
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt & pepper

 

Method

  1. First, to cook the aubergines. Line your grill pan with foil and place the aubergines under a hot grill. Pierce them first, otherwise they might explode! Turn the aubergines while they cook. Believe it or not, Ottolenghi suggests cooking them for an hour. Mine didn’t take that long, (more like 35 mins) but you’re looking for the skins to become completely charred, they should begin to split and the aubergines should pretty much completely deflate. Once this happens, remove from the heat. Slit the aubergines down the centre and scoop out the flesh, being careful to avoid the charred skins.
  2. Place the flesh into a sieve and allow it to drain for at least 15 minutes. You won’t yield much flesh, but don’t worry – the flavour is so intense that you won’t want more than that. Once it’s drained, season with plenty of salt and pepper and 1/2 tbsp of vinegar.
  3. Turn on the oven to 140C (fan)
  4. Meanwhile, during the cooking of the aubergines, get your lentils on. Put the lentils in a medium saucepan and cover with plenty of water (don’t salt the water – it makes the lentils go tough. Likewise, the water should be COLD – don’t try and short cut by adding boiling water – you’ll end up with lentils that are cooked on the outside and as hard as bullets inside) Cut one carrot and half a celery stick into large chunks and add to the water. Add the bay leaf, thyme and onion and bring to the boil.
  5. Simmer the lentils on a low heat for around 25 minutes until the lentils are tender. Drain then remove the carrot, onion, celery, bay and thyme from the lentils. Transfer the lentils to a large mixing bowl and add the rest of the vinegar, 2 tbsp of olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper; stir and set aside, covering them with foil to keep them warm.
  6. Cut the remaining carrot and celery into 1cm dice and mix with the tomatoes, the remaining oil and brown sugar. Spread out in and ovenproof dish and cook in the oven for about 25 minutes until the carrot is tender, but still firm.
  7. Add the cooked vegetables to the warm lentils, followed by the chopped herbs and stir carefully. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside.
  8. To cook the fish, season well on both sides with salt and pepper.
  9. Set a large frying pan on a high heat and add a generous knob of butter to the pan and a lug of olive oil. When the pan is hot and the butter begins to foam, add the fish skin side down. Turn the heat down by one notch and do not turn the fish until you can see that it has turned a lighter shade of pink at least half way up the fillet from the skin. This generally takes around 5 – 7 minutes, depending on the size of the fillets.
  10. Turn the fish and squeeze over the lemon juice. Be careful, the pan will spit. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes. The fish is done when it feels firm to the touch, but still yields a bit when prodded.
  11. Remove the fish from the pan and place onto serving plates. Spoon the lentil salad next to it, topped with a pile of aubergine and a dollop of yoghurt.

 

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