This is a great mid-week meal – it’s healthy and relatively quick to prepare and really tasty!
Oily fish is one of the best proteins in the human diet and we don’t eat enough of it. It is full of health giving omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids fight inflammation in your body and brain so it’s key to keeping you fit and healthy.
In my experience, most people are scared to cook fish and when they do cook fish it tends be overcooked; the result is average to poor tasting fish with bad texture and so the circle begins again as the cook is put off cooking fish even more.
Fish should be cooked simply and gently; generally you are looking for something akin to a steak cooked to medium – the fish should be just “underdone”.
For a salmon fillet, I normally sear one side in a little EVO in a hot pan for 5-6 minutes until it is lightly browned (this gives both flavour and texture), then leaving the fish where it is in the pan, i.e. don’t move it!, put the pan into a 150C oven for about 4 minutes to finish cooking. This does two things for us:
- We get texture, colour and flavour on one side (this is the presentation side).
- The fish is cooked gently in the oven and so retains its flavour, nutrients and remains moist.
Skin on or skin off?
If the salmon is off the supermarket shelf I never serve the skin. This is because I don’t know how clean it is and they are almost never scaled properly. You could scale the skin yourself but, this is tricky with a such a small piece of fish. You can cook the fish with the skin on – it comes off easier after cooking the fish. The skin also helps us cook the fish as it protects the fish from the heat of the pan or oven. There is also a layer of fat attached to the skin which will render during the cooking process keeping the fish moist and full of flavour.
If I like the skin (it’s clean and scaled properly) I’ll serve the salmon with the skin on as it is crispy – not relevant to this recipe though.
Check for bones! I always check my salmon fillets for bones. In salmon portions from the supermarket these tend to be quite big so you don’t want to leave these in. Gently press the flesh with your fingers and you should be able to feel if any bones have been left in. You can remove them with kitchen tweezers or small pliers.
This brings us on to how to choose your fish. If you have a local fishmonger, go there. If looking in the supermarket, the pre-packed fillets are generally good. Look for a use by date at least 2 days away and avoid any special offers as the fish will not be fresh. Look for wide fillets of even thickness. The fillet will naturally taper from the back to the belly like a wedge. If you can find fillets with the thickest belly flesh on the shelf grab them – they will cook more evenly. If not a good trick is to fold the thin belly flesh over when you put it in the pan.
Ingredients (serves 4 people)
- 4 salmon fillets, approx 160g each
- 1 head of broccoli, cut into florets (120g per person)
- 2 red chillies, sliced on the diagonal
- 4-6 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal
- 1kg spinach
- 45g unsalted butter
- 4 TBSP creme fraiche
- 4 tsp grain mustard
- lemon juice
- salt and pepper
- Blanch the broccoli (follow my method here for best results).
- Wilt the spinach in a large pan or pot with a sprinkling of water, you will want to do this in batches. Allow to cool, squeeze out the moisture and roughly chop.
- To cook the salmon:
- Turn on the oven and let it heat to 150C.
- Season the flesh side (as opposed to the skin side) with a little salt.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan or skillet on a medium-high heat on the hob; add 1 TBSP of EVO once the pan is hot.
- Drizzle a little EVO over the salmon fillets, lay them gently onto the pan (you should hear a sizzle); then leave them to cook for 5-6 minutes. You will see the flesh nearest the pan will have cooked and if you gently lift the fillet it should be brown – if it’s not your pan was not hot enough.
- Finish the fish off in the oven, it will take about 4 minutes.
- Remove the fish from the oven and then place onto a warm plate. You can now remove the skin by carefully peeling it off the flesh. Allow it to rest – I generally sprinkle a little sea salt over the top and a few drops of lemon juice.
- Once rested for 5 minutes, flake the fish.
- To make the creamed spinach, put the butter into a pan on a medium-low heat; once melted add the chopped spinach and warm through; then add the creme fraiche and the mustard and mix in well. Once warm, taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Put the broccoli, chilli and spring onion into a large pan/skillet and toss with a drizzle of olive oil. Toss through the flaked salmon and pop the pan in the oven to heat up.
- In a bowl (warm up your bowls in the oven as well) place a layer of the creamed spinach, pile on the salmon and broccoli on top and serve!
This is just as good without the spinach so if you need a quick fish fix miss out the spinach.
If you don’t eat dairy, miss out the creme fraiche and use more butter.
If you don’t eat butter, just use EVO.
You’ll also find lightly smoked salmon fillets in the supermarkets (not hot smoked). These add a very nice twist of flavour to this dish.
This dish is great to use up left over broccoli and spinach if you have leftovers from a Sunday roast.
If your frying pan is not very non-stick you can lay the fish on a piece of baking paper rather than directly on the pan. You’ll also need an oven proof pan – if you don’t have one you’ll need to transfer the fish onto a baking tray to finish cooking in the oven.