CRISP AND SPICY SALMON WITH A VEGETABLE JULIENNE
For this colorful recipe, salmon fillets are coated generously with powdered spices, then fried skin-side down so the skin emerges crisp as well as brown and very edible. As background the vegetables are cut into julienne strips (resembling matches) and cooked in their own juices with a bit of butter.
1 or 2 salmon fillets, with their skin (about 1½ lb/750 g total)
1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
1 tablespoon whole fennel seed
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
For the vegetable julienne
3 medium carrots (about ½ lb/250 g)
2 medium courgettes (about ¾ lb/375 g)
2 medium leeks (about ¾ lb/375 g)
2 tablespoons/30 g butter
Salt and pepper
1. For the vegetable julienne: peel the carrots and cut them into the thinnest possible slices. Pile the slices a few at a time and slice them lengthwise as thinly as possible to make julienne strips. Trim the courgettes and cut them also into julienne strips, including the skin for added colour. Trim the leeks, leaving some of the more tender green tops, and halve them lengthwise. Cut them into julienne strips, wash them well, and drain on paper towels.
2. Melt the butter in a heavy frying pan, add all the vegetables with salt and pepper, and stir well. Press a piece of foil on top and sweat the vegetables over low heat until tender, stirring them occasionally, 8-10 minutes. Do not let them brown. Halve the lemon and cut 4 slices for decoration, reserving the rest for juice.
3. Heat the oven to 220˚C/425˚F. To prepare the salmon, run your fingers over the flesh and if you feel any bones (especially the tiny “pin” bones), pull them out with tweezers. Turn the fillets skin side up and scrape the skin with a sharp knife to remove any scales, Cut the salmon into 4 portions, sprinkle both sides lightly with salt, and leave them skin-side up. Mix the five-spice powder, fennel seed, and cayenne in a small bowl and sprinkle the spices over the salmon skin.
4. Heat the oil in a large frying pan with an ovenproof handle and add the salmon, skin-side down. Fry over quite high heat without moving the pieces for 2-3 minutes, until the skin is crisp – when done it will shrink and loosen from the surface of the pan. Turn the salmon pieces skin-side up, transfer the pan to the oven, and bake until done to your taste: 2-4 minutes for rare salmon, 5-8 minutes for well done. The cooking time depends on the thickness of the fillets.
5. Squeeze the reserved lemon over the vegetables, taste, and adjust the seasoning. Spread the vegetables on warmed dinner plates, set a piece of fish on top, skin-side up, and serve at once so the skin is crisp.