seared salmon with herbed roast potatoes

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A few months ago, I promised a recipe for my husband Aaron‘s favourite dinner: crispy-skinned salmon with roast potatoes and asparagus. It never happened; mostly as whenever I cooked it, the lighting in our kitchen was bad or it was just too late in the evening for photography (ah, food blogger problems).

However, seeing as we’ve had beautifully light, hot summer days over the past few weeks, you’re finally getting the promised salmon recipe. I hope that it’s worth the wait.

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Seared Salmon

Now, to start I should probably clarify that this is more of a ‘method’ than a recipe. Cooking fish is rather intuitive, so the object of this post is to help you gain familiarity with the process of cooking a perfectly pink, crisp-skinned piece of salmon. It’s definitely not as hard as one might think.

Start by choosing one piece of fish per person. I always choose a 150-175g (5-6 oz) skin-on salmon fillet (cut from the sides of the fish; often boneless) per person; look for fish that is bright, firm and ‘fresh-smelling’ (there should be no overly strong ‘fishy’ odour). Salmon steaks (cross-sections of the fish which always have a central piece of backbone) are also delicious, however you’ll have a harder time achieving a good piece of crispy skin.

Place your salmon skin-side up onto a clean chopping board. Take a good look at it in the light; if you can see any glistening scales, remove them by running your knife at a 90 degree angle against the skin. When the scales have detached, brush them off with a piece of kitchen paper. Run your finger against the grain of the fish to check for ‘pin bones‘, the small floating bones that occasionally remain embedded in the soft flesh after the fish is filleted. If you can feel the tips of any bones, remove them with a pair of tweezers and discard them.

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Season the skin well with sea salt flakes, then leave the fillets for a few minutes or until moisture pools on the skin (the salt helps to pull the moisture out of the skin). Blot the skin with paper towels until it’s as dry as possible, then add a little more sea salt. You’re now ready to cook.

Heat some good quality oil (with a high smoke point; I usually use Brookfarm cold-pressed macadamia oil however the more neutral grapeseed oil will perform equally well) in a heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes or until hot (but not smoking).

Gently place the salmon fillets into the pan, skin-side down, leaving a 2cm gap between fillets (if you have more fish than this allows, you will need to cook your fillets in batches). Cook, skin-side down, for 4-5 minutes depending upon the thickness of your fish. You should see the colour rising on the side of the fillet; when it reaches about half of the way up, season the skinless side of the fillet with salt and pepper, then flip it over.

skinCook for another 3-4 minutes or until the fish easily flakes with a fork (if you’re testing the sides of the fillet with your fingers, it should still have a slight ‘spring’ to it… salmon is best served when it’s still slightly soft and pink in the centre).

Serve immediately, while the skin is still crispy*, with roasted potatoes and grilled asparagus or salad.

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* Note to food bloggers: do not leave the crispy-skinned salmon on a plate in a humid kitchen for ten minutes (whilst arranging, primping and photographing it) before serving it to your husband (sorry Aaron)

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Herbed Roasted Potatoes

  • 2 medium red or purple potatoes (200-250g) per person
  • olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, lightly bashed with the back of a knife
  • small bunch of rosemary, thyme and sage
  • smoked sea salt (I use Gewürzhaus Salish Alder smoked sea salt)
  • cracked black pepper

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C (390 degrees f). Wash your potatoes and roughly dice them into 3 cm chunks, then place them into a pot of lightly salted water. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat.

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Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until just cooked (should be just tender when pierced with a fork). Drain well and leave for a few minutes until any remaining water evaporates. Shake your strainer to slightly roughen the surface of your potatoes, then sprinkle them with smoked sea salt and black pepper.

Pour about 2 tbsp oil into a large roasting pan with the garlic cloves and herbs . If you have a gas hob, place the pan over the heat until the herbs start to crackle; alternately, place the roasting pan into the oven for 5 minutes or until hot. Carefully tip the potatoes into the hot oil, toss and return the pan to the hot oven.

tatiesdoneRoast the potatoes for 30 minutes; turn and roast for another 30 minutes or until crisp and golden. Drain on paper towels and add a little more salt if necessary. Serve with sour cream or aioli alongside the seared salmon with a green salad or some grilled asparagus.

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aaron. an appreciation post

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A couple of months ago, the beautiful Amanda from i am baker posted a recipe for a classic vanilla cheesecake with a double-thick graham cracker crust. But it wasn’t just any cheesecake recipe, it was her husband’s favourite… right down to the extra-thick, buttery crust.

The aim of this post wasn’t just to share her husband’s favourite cheesecake recipe. It was the first of a series of ‘Appreciation Posts’ written by bloggers across the globe, the aim of which was to say ‘thank you’ to our long-suffering partners for their support, love and (endless) patience as we’ve embarked upon our food blogging journeys. A worthy cause indeed.

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Now, if you read the list of existing ‘Appreciation Posts’ in Amanda’s original publication, you’ll realize that I’m a little behind in publishing my own. The main reason for this is the fact that I wanted my own appreciation post to tie in with our second wedding anniversary, the date of which is next Tuesday: 12th November 2013. Sentimental, yes. But hey, that’s me.

So without further ado, let me introduce you to my ridiculously handsome love, Aaron:

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He’s my husband, best friend, encourager and creative partner. He’s been there through the highest and lowest points of my life, gently encouraging, challenging and supporting me as required.

Aaron kindly agreed to answer the set of routine questions posed in the ‘Appreciation Post’ series. His responses are as follows (with a few of my italicized notes in brackets):

1. What are the best and worst things about being married to a food blogger?

The obvious answer is that you get to eat incredibly well. But I also like seeing Laura have a passion for something that motivates her to learn and improve. And it’s great that she enjoys cooking for others. I get to have my good friends come over, have an amazing feast, then play a game of Settlers. I think that Kings didn’t live so well. Maybe the worst thing is going to the shops with her and watching her take 5 minutes to choose between identical loaves of bread.

3. Out of the props that Laura uses, what’s your favourite?

I’m a big fan of natural materials. Anything made of wood… Or things that are old and worn. I like our chopping board (Aaron made this for me out of a piece of discarded Jarrah. He polished it with organic beeswax and it’s become one of my very favourite things).

4. What’s the weirdest thing that you’ve seen her do for a blog post?

Honestly, the weirdest thing for me is that she will intentionally get up an hour earlier every morning before work to write posts or respond to messages. I would choose sleep every time.

5. What’s your favourite recipe of Laura’s (not necessarily on the blog)?

Laura makes the most amazing salads. But my favourite is always crispy skinned salmon with some asparagus and roast potatoes*.

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6. If you had your own blog, what would it be called?

I have the beginnings of one on my website, MonsterBot.net. But if it was a food blog, it would probably be called ‘Steak is Good Enough’.

7. Do you have a favourite blog?

I constantly go back to boingboing.net. It’s a site with a number of contributors who write about a lot of different things. Some geeky, some arty, some political. It’s interesting.

8. How do you cope with the constant photo-taking/social media/blog world craziness?

Haaa, I love it because when Laura is working on her blog, I get to go play (PC) games.

9. Who does the dishes?

Laura used to insist on doing them because “…[she] made the mess”. I used to insist on doing them because Laura’s the one that cooks everything. Now it’s whoever gets to them first. Laura does more than me though.

10. What do you do for your day job and what are your favourite hobbies?

I used to be a bricklayer, which I am still sometimes involved in. Every now and then I go to a local film studio to work on an animation they’re doing. I spend most of my time working on a design and illustration business. As far as hobbies go, I love visiting cafes with friends, reading sci-fi/fantasy, playing games, watching movies and going to the gym or for a run. In summer, the beach and late-night volleyball are the go. Then there is art, travel and music… finding a good bar or chill out spot down some forgotten alleyway in the city. Car trips down south, nice wine. There is so much to do! I believe strongly that work-time is not time that’s written-off. In fact, it’s a privilege and something to be thankful for (even when work is sometimes horrible). But the best of life is in the in-between bits.

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So, that’s a very short introduction to the amazing man on the other side of the messy table (or more frequently, the couch). If you’d like to get to know him a little more, he’ll be sporadically blogging over at MonsterBot (where you can also see his evolving illustration and design work).

To Aaron: thanks my love, for two years of marriage. Thanks for being the strong but gentle, inspiring, loving and God-fearing man that you are. Thanks for putting up with my quirks, weaknesses, inadequacies and flaws… you’re constantly helping me to grow and to become a better version of myself. Thanks for believing in me, even when I succumb to doubt. I love you endlessly and I always will.

Laura & Aaronblog

Concluding photograph courtesy of Lance Chicote @ Lanceshotme creative photography. Other photographs by myself and Aaron during various walks around Perth city.

*I intended for this post to be accompanied by a recipe for crispy skinned salmon with asparagus and smoked roast potatoes (Aaron’s favourite) but an exceptionally busy week has defeated me. I hope to post the recipe some time in the next fortnight with a link back to this post.

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