November 1997

Topsham, Devon 20 November 1997 Salmon, it seems, once an occasional luxury, is now so prevalent due to farming methods that it has become almost an everyday staple. In the summer, admittedly, there is nothing that can beat our own Exe salmon, netted by a handful of intrepid fishermen who still go out in row boats to fish the estuary with seine nets, shooting them across the narrow channel as the tide ebbs then standing thigh deep in the mud to gather the nets in. Such wild Exe salmon, its flesh pale in colour, lean in texture and with an intriguing and distinctive flavour that is almost earthy, is certainly one of the finest foods on earth. There is nothing that can beat a whole fish, freshly caught and delivered to the door by the fishermen, simply poached and served cold with homemade mayonnaise.
Farmed Scotch salmon, admittedly, is another kettle of fish altogether and clearly not in the same league. Yet it can be very good nonetheless, always fattier than Exe, the flesh a more lurid shade of pinky-red. We regularly purchase and enjoy either steaks or fillets from Derek, our mobile fishmonger or from Richard, who sells good fish alongside fruit and vegetables. Quickly seared and cooked over our char-grill, the bars making an attractive black criss-cross pattern on the red flesh, the fish is delicious served with a simple and fresh salsa such as this one made from prawn, avocado and cilantro.

Char-grilled Salmon with Prawn, Avocado and Cilantro Salsa

2 Scotch salmon steaks

2 tbsp virgin olive oil

Spring of fresh rosemary, finely chopped

For the Salsa

2 oz cooked and peeled prawns, roughly chopped

1 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped

Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lime

2 tbsp pickled jalapeño chilies, chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped

2 tbsp sundried tomato paste

1 tbsp sherry vinegar

Handful of fresh cilantro (coriander), finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lay the salmon steaks in a flat dish, baste with the olive oil, and sprinkle over the chopped rosemary. To make the salsa, combine all the ingredients and allow the flavours to infuse for at least a couple of hours.
Pre-heat a char-grill (or use a ribbed cast iron pan). Cook the salmon steaks for about 3-4 minutes a side (depending on thickness -- they should still be a little underdone inside, to our taste), turning once to create the criss-cross patterns.
Place the cooked salmon steaks on warmed plates and serve with the salsa half over and beside the fish. Garnish with sprigs of cilantro.

Wine Suggestion: A soft, juicy red wine goes well with this dish so what better way to celebrate the release, yes just today, of the new year's wine than with a good bottle of grapy Beaujolais Nouveau 1997!


Copyright © Marc Millon 2000


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Copyright © Marc and Kim Millon 2000