Having opened a new jar of preserved lemons for the recent bulgur recipe and a new pack of saffron for the risotto the other day, I needed to use them; not allow them the moulder and grow old so I end up throwing them away, as has happened before. They’re not ‘everyday’ things – unless you’re Ottolenghi – but actually there’s something about warm summer days that calls for that middle eastern touch, so today seemed a good day to use more of them.
I’d bought the meal’s ingredients and had actually planned something completely different, but as suppertime grew close and the air temperature still hovered in the late twenties after a hot and sunny day, something close to barbecue – if not quite – seemed more appropriate. I never barbecue. I often prepare things to barbecue but I always leave the actual cooking to my son. This is not macho ‘man must barbecue’. I’ve always thought that crazy. You need a good cook to barbecue properly and well, not an inexperienced male cook playing with fire. And happily for me my son is an excellent cook; one of the best home cooks I know. But frankly I’m just too lazy to barbecue myself – too much hassle to prepare and too much mess to clear up afterwards!
Son is in Cornwall, thus tonight a griddle would have to do. I’m a dab hand with a griddle and think you can still achieve a nice caramelised effect that’s maybe not quite the same as a charcoal barbecue, but pretty damn good.
There’s a preserved lemon yoghurt dressing in the bulgur recipe but I decided to add some saffron too. I made it first so that the yoghurt had time to take up the flavours. Then I griddled the vegetables, knowing they’d be better slightly cooled, and cooked the salmon last, adding a touch of that lovely middle eastern spice, with its hint of lemon, sumac.
Sumac Salmon with Saffron & Preserved Lemon Yoghurt and Griddled Vegetables
- pinch of saffron in a little hot water
- 100ml natural yoghurt
- 1 teaspoon chopped preserved lemon (about ½ small lemon, pips removed)
- extra virgin olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper
- a selection of vegetables to griddle: courgettes, large tomatoes, yellow pepper, red onion, cooked new potatoes
- salmon (I cooked for 1 but there are enough ingredients for 2)
Mix the saffron, yoghurt and chopped preserved lemon together. Add the olive oil and some black pepper. Preserved lemon is quite salty so you probably won’t need salt. Stir together well and taste. Set aside while you cook the rest of the meal.
Slice the vegetables thickly. Brush with olive oil and cook in batches on a hot griddle.
Lay on a serving plate as each is ready.
Now cook the salmon. I grilled mine. I brushed some olive oil on the fillet of salmon and sprinkled over some sumac. I put under the grill and cooked until just done and still slightly pink in the middle.
I transferred the salmon to a serving plate and spooned over some of the yoghurt dressing.
I served with the griddled vegetables.
I was able to sit in the garden; the sun slipping down out of sight but still gloriously warm and a perfect setting for my meal. It was all really gorgeous. Salmon is quite a robust fish and can take strong flavours so was well matched by the preserved lemon and saffron dressing. The griddled vegetables retained their separate identity and the touch of caramelisation worked beautifully with the sumac salmon and yoghurt dressing.
I had plenty of vegetables and dressing left over so they went into the fridge. I’m out all day tomorrow but they’ll go well with some griddled chicken on Monday – so an almost 2 meals in 1 cook!