Light, heart-healthy and leaps ahead in flavour, salmon is one of the most versatile ingredients around. Add more of the pink stuff to your weekly repertoire with these delicious recipes.
If you were given a choice between cooking meat or fish for dinner, many of us would gravitate towards the former. Why? Because roasting a chicken or a tray of sausages seems far less complicated than tackling a fillet of fish when you’re weary after work.
But actually, cooking fish doesn’t have to be difficult. Take salmon: a simple, flavourful, and endlessly versatile fish that makes a refreshing change from meat dishes. Whether you shred it into colourful salads, pan fry it Scandi-style in golden breadcrumbs or simply pop it under the grill, there’s a delicious way to cook it to your liking.
Not only does salmon taste pretty great, it’s well-known for its stellar health benefits, too. Packed with essential omega-3 fatty acids that can only be obtained from your diet, eating salmon regularly can help boost immunity, strengthen bones and improve brain function, which explains its snazzy reputation as a nutritional ‘superfood’.
Fancy working salmon into your meals on a more regular basis? Before you hit the supermarket, it’s a good idea to check out the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Fish Guide to familiarise yourself with the sustainable varieties of salmon available in the UK. Once you’ve done that, try out the recipes below, all of which are ideal for weeknight meals.
Akhtar Nawab’s salmon salad with beets and radishes in a roasted apple and chia seed dressing is perfect for a late summer dinner when you want to maximise time outdoors. For an Asian-inspired twist, Ben Lebus’ super quick miso grilled salmon with spring onions goes just as well as rice as it does with roasted vegetables.
Finally, Megan Davies’ baked salmon parcels infused with the flavours of bouillabaise will transport you to the south of France. All that’s left to do is pour the white wine…
Akhtar Nawab’s salmon salad with beets and radishes in a chia apple dressing
Akhtar says: “For this salad, I brine the salmon in a mixture of water, chipotle, and salt, which gives the salmon a warm, umami flavour. After the salmon is brined, I coat it with a rub of black pepper and coriander and then bake it. The result will really take you by surprise; it is so incredibly buttery – and yet there’s no butter or additional fat. I think (and hope) it will forever change the way you make salmon.
“I let it cool and flake it over greens with a roasted apple and chia seed dressing, made with shallots and apples caramelised with dijon and sherry wine vinegar. This is a great salad to serve if friends are coming over for brunch, or for a light weeknight dinner. Open a bottle of white wine and enjoy”.
For the salmon brine:
- 40g flaky sea salt
- 2 chipotles in adobo
- 1 tsp dried oregano, toasted
- 1 tsp ground allspice, toasted
- 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
- 1 medium garlic clove
- 455g skinless salmon, cut into four 115g pieces
For the chia apple dressing:
- 60ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 medium shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 apple, peeled and diced
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 2 tbsp sherry wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- flaky sea salt, for seasoning
For the salmon:
- 2 tbsp black peppercorns, toasted and ground
- 2 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
- flaky sea salt
For the salad mix:
- 445g mixed torn lettuces of your choice
- 5 medium radishes, shaved on a mandoline or sliced into super-thin discs
- 1 red beet, peeled and shaved on a mandoline or sliced into super-thin discs
- ½ English cucumber, sliced into coins (I like to partially peel it vertically, leaving some skin on like long stripes)
- flaky sea salt
First, brine the salmon. In a large glass bowl, combine the salt, chipotles, oregano, allspice, cumin, and garlic with 480ml of water and whisk to dissolve the salt. Add the salmon fillets and spoon the brine all over. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 150°C. While the salmon is brining, make the dressing. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the shallots, and cook, covered, for 4 to 6 minutes, until the shallots are soft but haven’t started to colour.
Stir in the apple, cover, and cook again until soft, about 6 minutes more. Add the chia seeds, vinegar, and mustard, and stir to combine.
Transfer to a blender (or use a handheld immersion blender) and purée for 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the blender several times to make sure all the ingredients get fully incorporated. Season with salt. Let cool. (You can pop it in the refrigerator for faster cooling.)
While the dressing is cooling, bake the salmon and assemble the salad ingredients. Remove the salmon from the brine and pat dry. Lay the fillets on a sheet tray or baking pan and sprinkle both sides with the black pepper and coriander. Season with salt. Bake the salmon for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the salmon is 60°C. Allow the fillets to cool before flaking the salmon.
Next, make the salad. Add the salad greens to a large bowl, toss in the radishes, beet, and cucumber, and season with salt. Add 1 tbsp of the vinaigrette per serving (so 60ml for the entire recipe). This dressing is thick, almost like a caesar dressing, so it’s helpful to use your hands here to really rub the dressing on all the lettuce leaves and other vegetables. Top with the flaked salmon and serve immediately.
From Good for You: Bold Flavours with Benefits by Akhtar Nawab, with Andrea Strong (£21.99, Chronicle Books), out now
Ben Lebus’ miso grilled salmon
Ben says: “Grilling the spring onions whole reduces waste and is a tasty new way of eating them. The miso sauce is also great with egg fried rice and over roasted aubergine”.
Takes 11 minutes 50 seconds
- 1 bunch spring onions
- 3 tbsp white miso paste
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 4 skin-on salmon fillets
- 2 tsp white sesame seeds
- 1 bunch fresh coriander
- 2 x 250g pouches of pre-cooked basmati rice
- neutral oil, such as groundnut
Preheat the grill to maximum.
Set one spring onion aside. Place the rest on a baking tray and toss with a little neutral oil. Place under the hot grill for 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, it’s sauce time. Whisk the miso, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and sugar together in a small mixing bowl.
Remove the tray of spring onions from the grill, place the salmon fillets (we use Alaskan salmon for its quality and sustainability), skin-side down, on top of the spring onions, then spoon over the miso sauce so that each piece of fish is evenly coated. Place under the grill for 6–8 minutes until the salmon is cooked through and the spring onions are nicely charred. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the salmon for the final 2 minutes of cooking time.
While the salmon is grilling, thinly slice the remaining spring onion and roughly chop the coriander.
Squeeze the rice pouches to slightly break up the grains, then heat in the microwave following the packet instructions. Divide the rice between four plates and stir some chopped coriander into each portion. Place a salmon fillet with some charred spring onions onto each plate. Scatter over the sliced raw spring onion to finish.
From Speedy MOB: 12-minute meals for 4 people by Ben Lebus (£14.99, Pavilion Books), out now
Megan Davies’ Provence salmon parcels
Megan says: “Here, I’ve taken the flavours of bouillabaise, simplified them and popped into parcels. One pan, one baking dish, one small bowl and you’re good to go. The flavours remind me of cooking school, enjoyed now without the stress and a glass of chilled white”.
Takes 30 minutes
For the salmon parcels:
- 1 leek trimmed and finely sliced
- 1 fennel bulb trimmed and finely sliced
- 1 clove garlic grated
- a pinch of saffron threads
- 1 beef tomato halved and thinly sliced
- 6 strips of orange peel
- 4 skin-on salmon fillets
- 10g fresh parsley
- 100ml white wine
For the cheat’s rouille:
- 65g mayonnaise
- a pinch of saffron
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 garlic clove grated
- 1 lemon
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil for frying
Preheat the oven to 180 ̊C fan/200 ̊C/400 ̊F/Gas 6.
Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large frying pan/skillet on a medium heat and, once hot, add the sliced leek and fennel. Sweat, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute, then remove from the heat. Add the pinch of saffron and mix to combine.
Put two large pieces of parchment paper, about 40.5-cm/16-inch square each, onto a clean work surface. Divide the sliced tomato between each piece, placing it in the centre, in a rough square shape (you are going to place the salmon on top, so make a bed for 2 fillets per piece of paper). Add the orange peel.
Next, divide the fennel and leek over the tomato. Add two raw salmon fillets to each open parcel, skin-side down, and tear the parsley over the top.
Season with salt and pepper and then bring the edges of the paper together, rolling the edges over and pinching tightly to seal. Before you finish the seal on each parcel, pour the wine into the openings, dividing it evenly. Seal the final section of the parcels, transfer to a baking sheet, then place on the top shelf of the oven.
Bake for 8–12 minutes, depending on how you like your salmon cooked. (For more well-done fillets, bake for 12 minutes).
Meanwhile, make the cheat’s rouille. Add the mayonnaise, saffron and olive oil to a bowl. Add the garlic followed by the lemon zest – grate half of the zest in. Mix well with a small pinch of seasoning and taste. Add a squeeze of lemon juice if it needs it.
Remove the parcels from the oven and carefully transfer the sealed parcels to a serving plate. Take to the table and enjoy opening the parcels together. Divide between plates and add a dollop of ‘rouille’ on the side. If you have some leftover lemon, cut it into wedges to serve.
For leftovers, serve up cold with salad.
From Home Bird: Simple, Low-Waste Recipes for Family and Friends by Megan Davies (£16.99, Ryland Peters & Small), out now
Photography: Antonis Achilleos; David Loftus; Clare Winfield/Ryland Peters & Small
Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.