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Fishing for compliments

Norwegian Salmon. Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hulagway/6335431579

Confession time.

I've been writing this ESRA column for close on six years, and have used this opportunity to share a myriad of winning recipes for silky soups, show-stopping salads, versatile chicken and meaty mains, decadent desserts plus mouthwatering cookies and cakes. If you'd been paying attention, however, you'd have noticed a glaring omission from this list.

I've never before shared a fish recipe on these pages…and there's a good reason for that. Try as I might, I just can't get my head around the Israeli fish counter, and after numerous disappointing experiences, I sidestep it altogether.

Buying frozen fish is even more likely to end in failure. No matter how promising the initial appearance, the one thing frozen fish all have in common is their distinct likeness to sodden toilet tissue when defrosted. Certainly no appetite appeal there.

There is, however, hope for diners wanting healthy Omega 3s without compromising on taste. The answer, in a word, is salmon. Fresh Norwegian salmon, in my experience, is the only fish to deliver consistently superb results, and it's the only fish I'll consider making.

Fortunately, virtually any fish recipe can be adapted to use salmon, for guaranteed moist texture and a delicate, far-from-fishy taste.

This inspired dish is a personal favorite of mine and is sure to become yours too.

OVEN BAKED SALMON WITH PESTO COUSCOUS CRUST

Ingredients

800 grams fresh salmon fillets, seasoned with salt and pepper

2 cups prepared white couscous

½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

Basil pesto

4 tablespoons melted butter (or extra olive oil for parve)

Olive oil

Method

1: Pour 1 1/2 cups salted boiling water/stock over 1 cup of couscous, cover and allow to stand 5 minutes then mix with a fork and season with salt & pepper.

2: Mix couscous with sun-dried tomatoes; 4 tablespoons of pesto and melted butter.

3: Place fish in a pan and drizzle over olive oil, generously top with the couscous mixture and cook at 180 C for approximately 20 minutes.

4: Fish is wonderful served on top of steamed green beans with a sauce of 125 ml cream heated with 2 tablespoons of pesto.

HOMEMADE PESTO: Store-bought pesto can be used, but homemade is far better. Making your own pesto takes literally minutes, is far more economical and infinitely tastier. To make your own pesto, place 1 cup of basil leaves into a food processor, add a garlic clove, 3 tablespoons of nuts or seeds, 1/4 cup grated cheese and a large pinch of salt, and process till well chopped. With the processor running, add olive oil to make a smooth paste, and then store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or freeze till needed. Authentic pesto calls for Parmesan cheese and pine nuts but I find that walnuts, pecan nuts, almonds, Brazil nuts and even pumpkin or sunflower seeds work perfectly well. I try to make pesto with Parmesan if possible as the taste is that much stronger but I have also used Emek as a perfectly good substitute. Dairy-free pesto may be used here for chicken fillets. This recipe will work with other fish apart from salmon but I'll leave it up to you to decide which fish is worthy enough to act as a replacement.

About Lisa Brink: Cookery school teacher and avid foodie Lisa Brink is now based at specialty grocery store – Meatland - in Raanana where she is taking on the role of marketing, recipe consultant and new product development. To receive weekly newsletters with FREE recipes, write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Lisa is also based in the store daily to answer any recipe/product related questions you may have. 

 

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