|salmon with fat couscous salad|
Salmon always seem to be a celebratory sort of fish and so I picked up some fillets on the way home. But I also wanted to spend as much time in the garden as I could and didn't want to faff around with too much preparation. The fat couscous salad was already prepared from the night before, so it was just a case of cooking up the salmon and assembling the yoghurt sauce. Weekday suppers don't get much easier than this!
Mograbiah or moghrabbiyeh is also known as Lebanese, pearl or Israeli couscous. And until I had a word to describe it, I just called it fat couscous, for the lack of a better word to describe it. Mograbiah is very different from North African couscous, Each grain, which is made from flour and salted water, is the size of a small bead, about half a centimeter across.
You can use pearl barley or ordinary couscous if you prefer or find those easier to track down. I did find it difficult to get hold of the mograbiah (although worth it in the end as the texture is great - not too gritty as finer couscous can sometimes be). I finally managed to find some at the Ev Bakery and Delicatessen in Southwark. (By the way, their cacik yoghurt sauce is the best I have ever tasted. I don't know what they did to make it so good but definite proof that simple things can be totally sublime!)
If you are in London, then another good sauce of middle eastern products is the Phoenicia middle eastern supermarket in Kentish Town, north London. Merchant Gourmet also sell what they call Giant Couscous, which you can buy online.
I served the fish with a fragrant yoghurt sauce (known as tsatziki in Greece, cacik in Turkey). This yoghurt sauce also goes beautifully with lamb, chicken or roasted vegetables.
Skill level: Easy
4 x salmon fillets
fat couscous salad
200g mograbiah (fat couscous - aka Israeli, Lebanese or pearl)
1 x small lemon, zest and juice
1 tsp tomato paste
½ tsp smoked paprika
5-6 x spring onions, chopped
1 x red or yellow pepper, chopped
a handful of fresh herbs, chopped (I used a mixture of coriander, flat-leaf parsley and mint)
tzatziki/cacik yoghurt sauce (not pictured)
200g thick, natural yoghurt (preferably Greek or set yoghurt)
½ x cucumber, core then dice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 x small garlic clove, crushed
10 x mint leaves, finely shredded
- Make the yoghurt sauce by combining all the ingredients. Set aside in the fridge to chill until plating up.
- Boil the mograbiah in salted water for about 15 to 20 minutes (according to the packet instructions). Drain and then coat with the dressing (see below).
- Make a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, tomato paste and smoked paprika, Stir well to combine. Use to dress the mograbiah couscous.
- Finely chop the spring onions (use the white and green parts) and stir into the warm mograbiah.
- Add the chopped pepper, fresh herbs and lemon zest. Stir well to combine, season to taste and set aside..
- Pre-heat a large frying pan (with a lid) on a medium heat.
- Brush the salmon fillets on both sides with a little olive oil. Season with a little salt.
- Place skin-side down in the pan and fry for about 4 to 5 minutes until the skin has become to crisp. Don't be tempted to shake or turn the fish before then.
- Turn over and continue to fry for another 4 to 5 minutes with the pan's lid on. The fish is ready when it is cooked right through.
- Meanwhile steam the spinach. Wash the spinach thoroughly to remove any dirt. Steam in a lidded pan for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain.
- Place a little of the spinach and a mound of couscous on each plate and top with the salmon.
- Serve the yoghurt sauce on the side.