I recently received Yotam Ottolenghi’s NOPI cookbook as a gift from my husband, and this book is absolutely amazing. Recipes are more elaborate than in the other Ottolenghi’s book I had bought, but still they are very feasible at home, although some would require a bit of preparation. I am sure I will test many of them over the winter months, so stay tuned! But obviously I could not help trying one right after taking the book out of his Amazon box, so here it is.
This fish recipe – featuring marinated salmon and a very aromatic lentils side – is actually an adaptation from NOPI (mostly due to what I had or did not have in the fridge when the book arrived..). It is not a difficult recipe and, aside from the time to marinate the fish, it is also not particularly lengthy. I used salmon in place of cod, and kefir in place of buttermilk, and I changed a bit the lentils’ stew, but overall it follows the direction from the original. I think it is a very tasty and flavourful recipe, and the result is aesthetically very nice. It certainly is the kind of entree that would have you make a superb impression on your guests, when inviting people over for dinner!
Ingredients (serves 2) – adapted from Ottolenghi and Scully’s NOPI
For the fish:
- 2 salmon fillets, about 1/2 lb each (200 grams each)
- 1/3 cup kefir (75g)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (grounded)
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- coarse salt and black pepper
For the lentils:
- 1 1/4 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup black lentils, rinsed
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1.5-inch (3.5 cm) piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1o-12 cherry tomatoes, cut in small pieces
- 2.5 oz (75 g) fresh baby spinach, rinsed
Prepare the fish: Grind the spices together, then transfer to a a large mixing bowl. Pour over the kefir and stir to combine. Add the fish fillets, careful to cover them well with the kefir mixture. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. Let marinate for 3-6 hours (Ottolenghi suggests 4-6 hours, but I did 3 and it worked out pretty well).
Make the lentils’ stew: First, toast the mustard seeds (this is important, because they would taste bitter otherwose). Place a small pan for which you have a lid on medium-high heat. Once hot, add the seeds and cover with the lid. When you hear that the seeds start popping, remove the pan from the heat and give it a little shake, then set aside.
Then, add the butter to a medium saucepan and melts over medium heat. Add the lentils and let them toast for 2 minutes, stirring often, until fragrant.
Add the onions and a pinch of salt, and cook over medium heat until they are soft (about 8 minutes), but without letting them brown.
Add garlic, tomato paste, ginger and cook for another 5 minutes stirring from time to time (add a tablespoon of water, if the mixture shows signs of sticking).
Then add the tomatoes, and cook for 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the toasted mustard seeds and pour over 1/4 cup (40 ml) of water, cooking for 5 more minutes until tomatoes are completely softened and onions caramelise.
Add 1 teaspoon of salt and a grind of black pepper, and pulse the mixture a couple of times with an immersion blender (the lentils should retain some texture). Then set aside until ready to serve.
Pre-heat over to 425°F (220°C). Lift the salmon out of the marinade and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. Roast in the oven for 8-10 minutes, then broil for 2 more minuets.
While the fish cooks, heat the lentils up again and add the spinach. Stir well for 1 minute maximum (just until the spinach leaves wilt). Spoon the lentils onto individual plates and top with the fish fillet. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and lemon.