I have found the weather in London over the last week or so to be uncomfortably muggy. There’s no pleasing Londoners sometimes. Winter never seems to end and then when summer does come the heat is too hot.
Summer calls for light meals and, for me, a seemingly unconscious move towards healthier and simpler forms of food. Tonight’s Monday night meal was a Vietnamese salad and lime marinated salmon with crispy skin. I have never made this dish before and I found it a frenzy of freshness, texture and bright, joyful colour. The pleasing crunch of the vegetables is complemented in each mouthful with the softness and mild citrus flavour of the salmon. Also, given that this dish is basically guilt-free, eating it in large quantities is allowed.
I think that the salad is really made by the inclusion of mint. I overlook mint in much of my cooking apart from in the old favourites; blitzing into sauce for lamb or adding handfuls to Pimms. It’s great to use it in a dish where it is really at the forefront rather than an accompaniment. Secondly, I continually tasted the dressing for flavour, and leaving it for 30 – 40 minutes to mellow seemed to take the edge off the strong flavours of fish sauce and raw garlic.
This recipe makes more than enough for 2.
25ml (approximately 1 and a half tablespoons) of fish sauce
4 limes, juice only
25ml vegetable or sunflower oil
25ml white wine vinegar
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped finely
1 clove of garlic, chopped finely or crushed and chopped finely
Salt and pepper
1 red onion, sliced finely
2 carrots, sliced finely or grated
Half a small red cabbage and half a small white cabbage, sliced finely
Bunch of coriander, chopped roughly
Bunch of mint, chopped roughly
Generous handful of raw beansprouts
2 salmon fillets, undressed and unflavoured
3 limes, juiced and rinds kept to marinade along with the salmon
1) Marinade your salmon in the lime juice and nest the rinds among the two fillets. Keep in the fridge until needed.
2) Make the dressing to give it time to sit and mellow. Add all the dressing ingredients to a deep bowl, stir and keep cool. I recommend tasting the dressing as you go to add more of what pleases your palate. I added more lime juice and a little extra red chilli.
3) Slice all your vegetables finely and layer in a deep salad bowl. Mix thoroughly to distribute the vegetables evenly.
4) After about 30 or 40 minutes, pour the dressing over the salad and toss thoroughly to cover all the vegetables with the dressing.
5) Serve with a fillet of salmon that has been marinated for at least 2 hours in lime juice. I oven bake the salmon fillet for about 17 minutes at 170 degrees fan, and grill it (skin side up) for a minute or so after cooking to crisp up the skin. For the carb lovers among us, some coconut rice would go nicely with this dish.
Lucky me, I’ve got enough left for my lunch tomorrow. I’m going to team it with some shredded chicken breast.