Saturday, 5 May 2012

Poached Masala Salmon with Sweet Red Pepper and Asparagus

Poached Masala Salmon with Sweet Red Pepper and Asparagus

Well, wouldn’t you know it.  The snow has been swirling around out there, covering up my pretty pansies, tulips and hyacinths.  Luckily those flowers are all toughnuts, and when it melts by this afternoon (optimistically) or in a couple of days, they’ll be fine.

Meanwhile, last night I needed something to warm me up, and thought this recipe for masala salmon would do the trick.

The Masala
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
½ teaspoon fennel seed
2 cloves
¼ teaspoon black cumin seed
5 green cardamom pods, smashed with seeds loosened
1 black cardamom pod, husked
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
3 flakes mace
1 teaspoon black salt (available in Indian groceries)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika powder

Put the above spices, excepting the last two powdered spices into a large non-stick pan, and gently roast.  When they become fragrant, and give off the slightest wisp of smoke, put into a spice grinder.  You can leave the cinnamon in the pan.  Add the powders to the spice grinder and blend all into a powder. 

The Rest
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
½ teaspoon dark mustard seed
½ teaspoon cumin seed
1 inch ginger, chopped
1 large red onion, chopped
3 large fresh garlic cloves, chopped
½ habanero pepper (with seeds)
1 heaping teaspoon ghee (clarified butter)
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 huge sweet red pepper, chopped
1 cup water
½ cup plain yogurt
½ cup cream (I used 17%, if using heavy cream, reduce the amount)
4 salmon fillets
1 bunch asparagus, tough ends removed, stalks chopped into 2 inch lengths

Add the oil to the pan with the cinnamon stick, and put the heat on high.  When it’s hot, add a few mustard seeds.  When they turn white and sizzle, quickly add the cumin seed.  Add the onion and ginger, stirring, and immediately reduce the heat to medium.
Cook till the onion has caramelised and softened a bit.  Add the ginger and habanero and cook for a few more minutes.  Add the ghee, then the masala, cooking for another minute or two.  Add the tomato and pepper, and let cook about five minutes.  Add the water, and put a lid on the pan.  Cook at least ten minutes, till the peppers have softened.
Use an immersion blender to puré the vegetables.  Add the yogurt, salmon, and asparagus stalks, and gently poach on lower heat.  Turn the salmon fillets when their bottoms are starting to look cooked, and continue cooking.  When they are almost done, (no longer translucent, to my Prairie girl taste), add the asparagus tips and cream.  Gently stir to combine the cream into the sauce.  Serve over basmati rice, or with rotis.  
This dish is sweet, pungent and rich.  I understand that there’s a new gingerbeer out there, and it’s my hope to buy some today, as I imagine it will go beautifully with this type of food.  Tonight I’ll be using pretty much the same masala to make butter chicken for my non-heat loving friends.  I’ll skip the hot pepper entirely, reduce the peppercorns and get my heat from that glass of gingerbeer I’m so looking forward to!

In the meantime, here's a brief glimpse of our morning!  The snow flakes have doubled in size since...   For some reason, blogger won't let me link to a recently uploaded video, so I'm having to give you a mere link instead.  Anyway, it's pretty, so watch it and let me know what you think.


  1. Lovely dish and I loved the snowfall.. May be it might have caused inconvenience to you and others living there, but it has made me admire it so much...

  2. I truly surprised and mighty impressed by your Blog's by liner. So honest and your space so many wonderful goodies. I'm off to check them Mary. Do land in my space and check me out when you find the time.
    Tickling Palates

    1. Hi Radhika, thanks for visiting. I checked out your blog and found lots of delicious items! Will visit often!

  3. Thanks Divya. It's all melted now, and the sun is back to shining. No harm done to the flowers.