Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Recipe #19: Crispy baked black pepper Tasmanian salmon


The inspiration for this recipe comes from a Japanese restaurant in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia where, as an appetizer, crispy fried salmon skin is served.

Asians have a long fascination for making crispy skin from almost all sorts of meat: in Bangkok, you can get crispy fried chicken skin on its own as an appetizer; Thai and Hong Kong suckling pigs have rich tasty crispy skins, and the Cantonese are famous for their crispy skinned ducks and chicken. Above all, my favourite is a Cantonese roast pork with crispy skin that really gives German pork knuckles a run for their money.

Most of these are fried, roasted or baked in high temperatures; some are coated with flour, then fried.

Although some consider fried skin unheatlhy; in fact, in moderation, and if prepared properly, they're no more unhealthy than most food you find these days. Some are actually lower in trans fat, and the skins of some meats can be rather nutritious. Of course, I am no expert in this, and will not state anything other than they can be extremely delicious when prepared properly and washed down with warm sake or red wine, which really makes an uplifting combination. I would advise against cold drinks when eating any sort of fatty food, as cold liquids coagulate fats in the body, which I am sure isn't a very healthy thing.

Anyway, back to salmon skin. It is not only richly nutritious; it is also very tasty. It doesn't have much fat underneath, and when baked properly, turns into a lovely golden crisp layer beneath which are rich, juicy and very tender layers of meat that almost melt in your mouth.

Ingredients
  • Tasmanian salmon steak/fillets, with skin on
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse ground black pepper
  • Sea-salt
  • Spring onions

Preparation
Dry salmon steak with a paper towel, then rub some olive oil and salt over the skin. Sprinkle a layer of coarse ground black pepper. Coat baking dish or aluminium foil with a thin layer of oil, then place fish on dish and bake in pre-heated oven. Turn heat to high until skin begins to crisp, and the black pepper begins to exude a lovely peppery fragrance. Be careful that skin doesn't get charred; if necessary, turn heat down a little and bake until fish is fully cooked. This could take up to an hour depending on thickness of fish; less if fan-forced.
When cooked, remove and garnish with fresh spring onions (these are excellent for balancing the oil from the salmon skin).

To Serve
I prefer very simple buttered pasta, peppered and lightly salted with finely chopped spring onions.

Complement with warm sake or pinot noir.

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