Fillets of salmon poached in an earthy beetroot stock with zesty lime infused samphire.
We’re already well into the new year and over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to eat healthily. Not that easy when you work in a kitchen surrounded by food 24/7. I try not to pick at food while I work and to sit down and eat a proper meal at least once a day.
Fish is already a big part of my diet and if you’re trying to lose weight, get fit, or just eat a little healthier then getting a bit more fish into your diet is a good idea. Not only is fish the ultimate fast food but it’s also one of the most nutritious.
Packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, and omega 3. The list of its health benefits for fish eaters goes on and on. It’s also low in fat and cholesterol with one big caveat, it all comes down to how you cook it.
Obviously, frying or deep-frying are out the window. The best ways to cook fish if you want to be healthy are steaming, baking in the oven, and poaching like this recipe here.
Not only is the fish poached in this recipe. First, it’s marinated and then cooked in an earthy, nutrient-rich, beetroot stock that’s been infused with balsamic, garlic, and thyme. The nutritional value of beetroot is well documented. Lots of vitamin c, low-fat, plus plenty of dietary fibre are among its many benefits.
It’s the deep, earthy flavour I like most about this colourful vegetables though. Marinating the fish for just a couple of hours and then cooking it in the beetroot juice is enough to transfer a little of its colour and a subtle hint of beetroot flavour to the salmon.
While I was down the fishmongers getting my salmon I was surprised to see he had some samphire for sale. Here we are in the middle of January and yet one of the summers most unusual vegetables with the shortest of seasons is for sale. Normally you can only get it fresh for a few short weeks in July and August. The rest of the time it comes pickled in jars much like the other ingredient in this recipe used to….beetroot.
Turns out it was farmed samphire. All the way from Saudi Arabia of all places where they use hydroponics to grow it. I just had to buy some even though it didn’t do much for my carbon footprint. It’s been years since I’d last eaten any and it tasted just like I remember. Salty, but in a nice way.
Samphire is also known as sea asparagus or sea pickle and there are in fact two types of this crisp green vegetable. There’s the march variety which I’m using here, and then there’s rock samphire which is the type I’ve yet to taste but from what I’ve heard I’m not missing much.
As if this whole dish wasn’t healthy enough adding samphire to the mix boosts the vitamin A, B, and C content. It’s also rich in folic acid. Pregnant women take note.
If you’ve never cooked samphire before it needs only the lightest steam or a quick dunk in some boiling water for 20 seconds. It overcooks and turns to mush in the blink of an eye, If you don’t like too much salt then it’s a good idea to rinse it off in some cold water first. It goes well with sushi or you could use it raw in a salad too
Samphire grows wild in marshy wetlands and estuaries so if you fancy a bit of foraging in the summer you might pick some up for free. Just make sure the waters clean before you pick it. I also remember reading somewhere that samphire is being investigated as a possible biofuel because of its ability to grow where other crops can’t.
The potential of the humble sea pickle knows no bounds it seems.
Ever eaten samphire or got some interesting recipes for it?Print
- 3/4 beetroot weighing about 350g / 12oz
- 120ml / half cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
- 2 garlic cloves (crushed)
- 1 large sprig of thyme.
- 4 salmon fillets weighing about 150g / 5oz each
- 500ml / 1 pint fish stock
- 250g / 9oz samphire
- 2 limes (segmented with the juice reserved)
- 60 ml / quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small bunch of chopped parsley
- Put the raw beetroot through a juicer. Then add the balsamic vinegar, bay leaves, peppercorns, garlic, and thyme to the beetroot juice.
- Place the salmon in a dish and pour the marinade over the fillets. Allow the fish to marinade for a couple of hours. Overnight would be better if you’ve got the time.
- After a couple of hours remove the salmon and pour the marinade into a pot large enough to hold the salmon fillets in one layer without them overlapping.
- Add the fish stock to the beetroot marinade and bring the cooking liquor up to the boil. Slide in the salmon fillets and cook for 2 minutes at a very gentle simmer.
- After 2 minutes turn off the heat and cover the pot with a lid. The fish will finish off cooking in the residual heat.
- Next its time to cook your samphire. Mix together the lime juice, segments, olive oil, and 60 ml or a quarter cup of liquor you poached the salmon in.
- Bring this mix up to the boil then add the samphire and steam it for about 30 seconds before adding the chopped parsley.
- To serve divide your samphire between 4 bowls, place the salmon on top, and season it with a good pinch of flakey sea salt
Alternative fish – trout, cod, or haddock