RECIPE: Wild Salmon with Red Pepper and Hazelnut Salsa

IMG_0361 - Version 2

I made this dish for our Christmas Eve Dinner gathering; I adapted the recipe from one of my recent cookbook purchases, Ottolenghi The Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.  I have modified the original recipe slightly according to my own taste and dietary needs (see notes).  I love this recipe, the flavours worked wonderfully together!

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 spring (wild/organic) salmon fillets (200 g each), 2 Tablespoon olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  For the red pepper and hazelnut salsa: 2 red bell peppers, 6 Tablespoon (90 ml) olive oil, 2 Tablespoon (15g) hazelnuts, 1/2 ounce (15g) chopped chives, 1 clove of garlic (crushed), grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, 2 Tablespoon cider vinegar, agave syrup*, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  (*syrup not part of original recipe).

Preparation:

– To make the salsa: Pre-heat the oven to 400 F (200 C).  Quarter the peppers and remove the seeds.  Toss with 2 Tablespoon of olive oil and a generous pinch of salt.  Put them on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven for about 20 minutes, until they are cooked through and slightly charred.  Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to cool.  Keep any of the roasting juices.

– Roast the hazelnuts on a separate baking sheet for 10 minutes, until lightly colored (you can do this while the peppers are in the oven).  Allow them to cool down, rub with your hands to remove the skins.  Chop the coarsely. (Note: Hazelnuts can be toasted on frying pan; if you can find roasted hazelnuts, skip roasting step).

– When the peppers are cool, peel them and cut into 1/4 inch (5 mm) dice.  Mix with the hazelnuts, combine with 4 Tablespoon olive oil, and the rest of the salsa ingredients.  Add kosher salt, ground pepper and agave syrup (just a little if you find the flavours to be too “tart”) to taste.

– Have a baking sheet lined with parchment paper ready.  Brush salmon fillets with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.

– Heat grill pan (one with ridges to get the grill marks; must be pretty hot), put salmon fillets (two at a time, no overcrowding and easier to handle) skin side up on the hot grill and cook for approximately 2 to 3 minutes, then carefully flip over and cook the skin side for approximately 2 minutes.   Using a fish slicer (tongs work also), carefully but briskly remove the fillets from the pan and place them, skin side down, on the lined baking sheet.  Be careful not to break the fish or scrape off the nice char marks!

– Finish cooking the salmon in the oven, slow bake at 250 F for 10 minutes, or until the fish are just done and very light pink inside.  Serve warm, with a generous spoonful of salsa on top.

Notes:

– Salmon fillets: stay with wild salmon!  I used wild spring salmon for this recipe. Ask your fish monger to portion them for even cooking (for the adventurous and skilled home chefs, you can prepare yourself!), check fillets and remove bones.

– I used Meyer lemon (a cross between lemon and either mandarin/orange); it has a very tangy flavour and worked just as well.  I found the roasted hazelnuts at the Vancouver Farmer’s Market (certified organic from Poplar Grove Arbour, Agassiz). Agave syrup is not one of the ingredients in the original recipe, I used very little to sweeten the salsa; as for the olive oil, I’ve used less oil to cook the peppers and fish.

– If you are serving this for a dinner party, the grilling of salmon fillets can be done an hour ahead (which I did); complete the final step when you are about to serve dinner.

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