I think for me Easter has always been different to the somewhat traditional religious Easter festivities, you know the Friday fasting, the curried fish, chocolate eggs and Easter Sunday feast….
You see, my father was the station master at Wepener in the Free State for many years and once a year the South African Railways would give its employees and their families a free rail ticket. So every year, my mom, dad, three brothers and me would take the train down to Durbs for our Easter school holidays. It was such an adventure for us because Durban was fun … there was sun + beaches + sand. It was singing on the stages trying our best to win prizes, fighting with my brothers, building sandcastles in the sand with dad, swimming in the ocean with mom and losing ourselves in the summers of our youth.
For the short few days we spent there we lived on ice cream and sandwiches during the day, but at night when we were all sunburnt and after a long soak in a soothing bath, my mom used to make us fresh fish and salad for supper. The fresh salmon salad I made today is a dedication to the happy memories of those Easters past and to my folks for affording us this once a year seaside adventure.
Apart from the salmon and the avocado, I got all the ingredients for the salad out of my garden. Instead of placing the salmon on top of the salad as it is usually served I decided it would be more fun to put the salad on top of the salmon – and I must say I think it looks amazing! It would be unfair for me to dictate the quantities of salad ingredients you should use as this is best left to your own discretion and mood.
I also like my salmon somewhat rare, so I prepared it that way. But the thing that really adds to the overall pop-up-flavour is the rather delicious lime and soya Asian dressing. So here’s to family, Easter, lasting memories and fresh food. Blessed Easter everyone!
sand + sunburn + salmon salad = happy family easter memories
- 2 x 200g Fresh salmon steaks
- For salad
- Avocado – sliced into small blocks
- Baby tomatoes – halved and then in three
- Cucumber ribbons – I take my potato peeler and run it over the cucumber
- Spring onions – finely sliced
- Radishes – sliced into thin slices
- Fresh coriander
- Salad dressing
- 50 ml Soya sauce
- Juice of one to two small limes
- 1t Sesame oil (optional)
- 2t Grated ginger
- 1t Fish sauce
- 1T Fresh coriander – chopped
- ½t Chillie flakes
- Fry your salmon for three minutes with the skin side down in a non-stick pan till skin crispy - say about 5 minutes - don’t turn it around and don’t season at this stage and let it stand to rest. The intention is to serve it luke warm not piping hot.
- Chop up all your salad ingredients and make your dressing by mixing everything together.
- Now just place this beautiful cut of fish on a plate. Place the salad on top and put the dressing on the side.
- I don’t add any salt at this stage and leave it to the guests to decide how much salt they need because the dressing is quite salty.
Sometimes life just stumps you. Such was the case when these absolutely, incredibly, beautiful and delicate garlic scapes found their way into my kitchen and onto my plate. A friend of mine, Daleen gave me a bunch of these green little wonders and said that I needed to cook something with it. But there I was, utterly stumped. What was I going to do with these culinary flowers? They belonged in a pretty flower vase on the window sill surely? At first I thought the little buds on these slender green shoots were “onion flowers” and then with a wicked smile, Daleen informed me that they were actually garlic scapes or garlic flowers. I had never seen these little miracles before …Clearly, I need to get out more… Anyway, these flowers were just so fragile and perfect – long leafless stems with the little closed flowers on the top – and inside the flowers were the seeds of the garlic plant. It was another wonder of creation.
But how and what could I do with these edible creations? As always my weekly food journey starts with the world’s greatest encyclopedia, the internet. I read that the flower of the garlic plant is sometimes eaten and that it has a much milder flavour than the actual garlic bulbs. I read further that these seeds were mostly consumed while immature and still tender. This seemed to make some sense as the bottom part of the stem was rock hard. These stalks will be great in soups and stews.
I don’t know why but my mind took me to Asia when I saw them … a dish of greens and pork. That is what I eventually decided to do…. My secret for this recipe was to keep everything simple. The idea was to let the subtle garlic scapes infuse with lemon and then just let this flavour the greens and the pork. The delicate simplicity of the flavours makes this a genuinely blissful, if not whimsical combination. Garlic scapes are available in stores at the moments – so please try it – it’s both fun and delicious.
lemony pork fillets + garlic scapes
- For the pork
- 300g Pork fillet
- Juice of one lemon
- 1T Soya sauce
- Black pepper for seasoning
- Salt – if you need extra seasoning
- Oil for frying in pan
- For the garlic scapes
- 4-6 Garlic scapes (keep some whole and have some cut in halves) - use only a small piece of the stem and the flower
- 2T Butter
- Fresh juice from ½ lemon
- A bit of white wine - +- 50ml
- Salt and pepper for seasoning
- For the Asian greens
- Asian greens for two people - I went to the Chinese market and got a variety of greens i.e. bok choy
- 1-2T Soya sauce
- Oil for frying
- Fresh juice from one lemon
- Lemon infused olive oil to drizzle over your dish when cooked
- For the pork: Add the oil to the pan and sear the fillets.
- Then add your seasoning - pepper + lemon juice + soja sauce - fry the pork fillets on medium high heat till done.
- Make sure your fillets are properly cooked through - but do not over cook. Add a bit of salt if you like.
- For the scapes: Add butter to a medium hot pan.
- Braise the garlic scapes till soft in butter and wine. This will take about 10 minutes.
- Add the lemon juice and some salt and pepper for seasoning.
- For the other greens: Heat a wok until it is very hot – add the oil and then the greens.
- Flash fry the greens for a few minutees and add the soya sauce + lemon juice + pepper.
- Taste for seasoning.
- To serve: Add the greens to the plate.
- Cut your pork and put that on top of the green.
- Drizzle the juices of the pan over the pork + drizzle some lemon infused olive oil over the whole dish.
- And then place some garlic scapes on top.
I am by nature a foodie and as foodies go, we all have our foodie idols … One of my foodie idols is Chef Peter Tempelhoff – not only is he a great chef but also not too shabby on the eye – oh, who am I kidding everyone … he is hot! And if you come to my office you will see an A3 poster of him hanging next to my desk … but to my utter dismay two of my wonderful colleagues Johann and Pieter gave Chef Tempelhoff a mustache and a tattoo 🙂 … Anyway, two weeks ago I attended the Table of Peace and Unity lunch on the slopes of our wonderful Table Mountain and Peter Tempelhoff was one of the chefs responsible for the starter [miso sesame cured salmon and ginger prawn spring roll with soja jalapeno dressing]. I don’t know if it was the dish or perhaps him walking past that inspired me to do something hot with salmon. So later in the week I visited my Chinese supermarket for some ingredients and over the weekend made this really delicious, salmon in a hot and sour Asian broth. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did! It’s so easy … so tasty and so fresh … and cheers to the hot chef who inspired me to make this dish!
20 minutes + salmon + asian broth = healthy hot winter warmer
- 150g x 4 Skinless salmon steaks
- Salt and black pepper
- For broth
- 1L Chicken stock (I use stock cubes for this – that’s what they do in Asia :-))
- 2-3 Green chillies (...if you like things a little hotter, spice it up with one more ... but not too many as it will overpower your dish )
- +-20cm piece of lemongrass – crushed with the back of your knife and cut into pieces (if you cannot find it but you do stay in Cape Town – contact me, I have a huge bush in my garden!)
- 1 Garlic clove – finely sliced
- 1 Thumb size piece of fresh ginger – finely sliced
- ¼ Cup of soya sauce
- 4ml Sesame oil - just under a teaspoon (be very careful that you don’t overdo the sesame oil)
- Juice of 2 limes (small) or 1 lemon
- 2 Spring onions – chopped diagonally into thin slices
- Handful of fresh coriander – roughly shredded by hand
- Bean sprouts to garnish and to add some crunch
- In a saucepan or pot add all the ingredients for the broth – except the spring onions, coriander and bean sprouts. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 5-10 minutes allowing all the flavours to infuse.
- In a non stick pan fry the salmon until brown on both sides - +-2-3 minutes on each side should do. The salmon must still be rare inside – but you must be able to flake it with a fork. Season with salt and pepper.
- To serve: Pour some of the broth through a sieve into a 4 bowls, add some spring onion and coriander. Put the salmon in the middle of the bowls and add some bean sprouts to garnish. I love fresh ginger so I always add the ginger I used for the broth in my bowl.
- Tuck in and enjoy!