March 28, 2016

Hot-Smoked Salmon & Fennel Kedgeree

A few weeks ago, we received a care package that contained two tins of hot-smoked wild fish from my home province of British Columbia: one BC sockeye salmon, and one BC albacore tuna. I don't have a huge repertoire of fish recipes - if you check out the seafood tag, you'll see mostly prawns, with only a few non-crustacean offerings. So, I've been thinking quite a bit about what to make with this unexpected bounty. The last time I had smoked tuna, I made Smoked Tuna Noodle Skillet Dinner, and the only salmon recipe I've posted is Salmon Corn Chowder.

I decided to use the salmon first. I did a little research online, asked friends on Facebook for suggestions, and even deliberated reworking previous recipes to use fish, but I wanted to make something new and interesting. Finally I remembered Kedgeree, a dish that had always caught my fancy for not only its interesting name but its entire multicultural history. I knew that most Kedgeree recipes call for smoked haddock or sometimes smoked mackerel, but I reasoned that the flavours should also be compatible with hot-smoked sockeye salmon.

Kedgeree is an Anglo-Indian dish, broadly considered to be descended from the South Asian class of rice-and-legume dishes called Khichri (also spelled Khichdi, kitchiri or khichuri, amongst other spellings), whose other culinary offspring might include Egyptian Kushari. Like its parent, Kedgeree has a lot of built in variability - wet or dry, whether you use ghee or oil, curry powder or separately blended spices, what kind of smoked, flaked fish, whether to include raisins. I went with a somewhat drier style, constructed more like a fried rice than a biryani, rice porridge or paella.

This qualifies as a skillet dinner if you have leftover rice to use.

Hot-Smoked Salmon & Fennel Kedgeree

Serves 3 - 4
Total Prep & Cooking Time: 20 minutes (if starting with cooked rice)

3 cups cooked basmati rice, fluffed and cooled, grains separated
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 small yellow onion, chopped finely
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and finely sliced (fronds reserved)
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 red chile, sliced
1 tablespoon Madras-type curry paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1 170 gram tin of hot-smoked wild sockeye salmon
2 boiled eggs
Fresh cilantro leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
Juice of half a lemon

If you need to cook rice from scratch for this recipe, it takes about 1 cup / 200 grams raw basmati, cooked however you like to cook rice. For optimal length and separation of grains, soak the rice in the cooking water for an hour or so before cooking. Be sure to separate the cooled grains of rice with your fingers (or a fork) before adding to the skillet.

Prepare your vegetables. Open and drain the scant liquid from the tin of salmon. Peel the boiled eggs, and slice them lengthwise into quarters. Tear up the fronds of fennel and put them with the cilantro for garnish.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large, non-stick skillet. Once it has foamed out, add the chopped onion and sliced fennel, and stir and sauté until translucent and the onion is starting to brown at the edges.

Add the curry paste and cumin and coriander seed, and stir through. Add the sliced garlic, and continue to sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and stir until it has melted. Add the rice and half the red chile slices, and stir fry until the rice grains are all well coated with the buttery spices.

Add the salmon, breaking it into large and small chunks with your fingers. Stir gently through the skillet, so it doesn't break down entirely (unless you like it that way). When the salmon has been integrated and warmed through, serve in shallow bowls, garnishing with the remaining chile slices, the quartered eggs, the fennel fronds, and the cilantro leaves.
Finally, squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over each bowl.

We served this with kalonji (nigella seed) studded roti, but this would also be excellent with a bowl of dal on the side (and would feed more people). If I had thought of it in time, I would have served a dollop of curried eggplant chutney, too.

Kedgeree can be eaten hot or cold, and it was reported that this one heated up very nicely in the microwave the next day.

March 13, 2016

Moroccan Shredded Carrot Salad with Lemon Dressing

As I mentioned in the post on Preserved Lemons, we went to Marrakech last December. It is all still in my head, especially the flavours and sounds and scents of the markets and street food, and I am continue to investigate recipes for dishes that we experienced, as well as those that I regret missing the opportunity to experience.

This carrot salad is modelled after the one that was served to us upon arrival in our riad. As we were scheduled to arrive quite late in the evening, our host offered us the option of booking a dinner so that we could relax and enjoy our first evening, without struggling out into a very unfamiliar sort of place late at night after a day of travel. We gratefully accepted, and were sent a menu to pre-order from. The dinner included a choice of three salads from a list of about seven choices, one two-person tagine from a half-dozen compelling possibilities, and a dessert from again, a handful of options. Bread was of course served automatically on the side (Morocco likes to have bread of some sort at every meal) and wine was also available, despite the riad's owners/operators being muslim themselves.

One of the salads we chose was a shredded carrot with lemon, which arrived neatly domed on a plate. I remarked on how finely grated the carrot was, and how wet the dish overall appeared, as we dug into it. We were delighted with the intensity of the lemon flavour, and it automatically went into my mental "make this!" file. While Morocco is famous for its use of preserved lemon, this recipe uses fresh lemon juice only.

Moroccan Shredded Carrot Salad with Lemon Dressing

Serves 4

3 large or 4 medium carrots
2 tablespoons cilantro or parsley leaves
1 large mint leaf
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar (honey would also be fine)
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon sweet paprika

Peel and finely shred the carrots, and put them in a non-reactive bowl (note that the carrot juice might stain plastic, so best use a glass or ceramic bowl). I used the fine side of a big box grater to do the shredding, which takes a while. If you have a mandoline or other fancy slicer, do whatever gets you the finest possible cut without turning utterly to mush.

Finely chop the cilantro (or parsley) and mint leaf, and stir through the carrot shreds until well distributed.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice with the olive oil, salt, sugar, garlic, cumin, and paprika. Taste the dressing and add more salt if needed. Pour the dressing over the grated carrots, stir well to combine, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours, to give the carrots time to soak up the flavours.

Spoon onto plates, or pack into a teacup or measuring cup (or small bowl) to make a tidy presentation. The juices from the salad may seep out from the edges quite a bit, so be prepared to blot the plate if you want to keep it clean. In the riad, this was served Moroccan style, meaning one each salad was served on a separate plate, from which we served ourselves, rather than the individual portion you see here.