It started with a hankering for salmon.
So while I was at the market, I picked up a couple of fillets along with some fresh dill and headed home. Then I got another craving. I felt like Indian spices—fennel, coriander seeds and especially cardamom.
Thinking that they are often used in rich sauces, I figured the spices might work nicely with the delicious fattiness of the salmon. Clearly it was time for some fusion.
Indian spices are actually a lot more versatile than most people think. Acclaimed chef Vikram Vij
is known for pulling off some incredible dishes combining the flavours of India with non-traditional ingredients (marinated lamb “popsicles” in fenugreek curry, anyone?).
Looking up a few complementary flavours in The Flavor Bible, I came up with the following equation: a quick-and-simple brine + toasted Indian spices + a few traditional salmon-friendly flavours. I hoped the result would be an unconventional-yet-tasty seafood dish.
It certainly looked good coming out of the oven. To serve, I paired the fish with basmati rice and a simple spinach-and-tomato salad. The reaction from my family was gratifying. While my wife and kids are not fans of Indian food, they enjoyed this supper. I was told I could make it again—pretty much the highest rating in our house.
Try it for yourself and tell us about your results in the comments section. I’d love to know what you think!
- 1 tbsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 c water
- 4 tsp coriander seeds
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 pods green cardamom
- 2-3 sprigs fresh dill
- 1 clove garlic, crushed (no need to peel)
- 2 salmon fillets (300-400 g/10-14 oz each), skin removed
- dijon mustard
- freshly ground pepper
- To make the brine, stir salt and sugar into water until dissolved. Pour into a baking dish.
- Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add coriander and fennel seeds and cardamom pods to the pan, stirring until they become fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.
- Remove toasted spices from heat and transfer to a mortar bowl. Lightly crush the spices with the pestle. (If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, crush the spices on a cutting board with the flat side of a knife or a cool frying pan.)
- Add spice mix, along with the garlic and dill, to the brining liquid in baking dish.
- Place the salmon fillets in the brining liquid which should cover the fillets. If it doesn’t, just add more water.
- Chill fillets in the fridge for at least 45 minutes (a little longer won't hurt).
- After chilling, remove the fillets from the brining solution and pat dry with paper towel. Discard the brining solution.
- Brush both sides of the fillets with Dijon mustard and sprinkle with pepper.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the fillets on the sheet and place in a 350 degree oven.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes. The salmon is done when it flakes easily and is opaque in the centre.
- Serve on a bed of basmati rice.