Truly one of the most incredible things I've seen in all my life was the sight of running salmon. I was on a road trip with my cousin in the north-west corner of the United States, and we pulled over by a river and sat transfixed watching these huge pink fish swimming furiously upstream, hurling themselves out of the water, and up waterfalls to spawn in the waters they themselves hatched in. You might think I'm about to confide that I've not eaten salmon since witnessing this great spectacle of nature but as you can see from the above photograph, that is clearly not the case. Mostly, I find fish a bit boring, even bland. But salmon is the one fish I can get enthusiastic about eating. Unlike its white-fleshed counterparts, it has a buttery richess, a sturdy form, and - not insignificantly in my appreciation of it - a glorious colour.
Recipe by Nigella Lawson, from a very old copy of Vogue Entertaining
Once the salmon is in the oven, I like to get started softening the onions, adding the spices and toasting the rice. By the time the fish is cooked, you can just pour the liquid it poaches in straight into the pan, saving on time and dirty dishes. Should you find yourself with more kaffir lime leaves than you need, just pop them in a ziplock bag and stash them in the freezer for future use.
500ml cold water for poaching fish
2 lime leaves, torn into pieces
1 heaped teaspoon salt
4 salmon fillets, skin removed (weighing about 750g in total)
1 teaspoon oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped finely
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon tumeric powder
250g basmati rice
3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
3 tablespoons chopped coriander (cliantro) leaves
juice and grated zest of one lime
fish sauce to taste (optional)
Preheat oven to 200 deg C.
Pour water into roasting dish, add lime leaves, salt, and then salmon. Cover dish with foil, put it in oven and cook for about 15 minutes, by which time salmon should be tender.
Remove dish from oven and drain liquid into jug. Replace foil to keep fish warm, and set aside.
Melt butter and oil in a wide, heavy-based saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Soften onion in pan, add spices, and continue to cook until onion is slightly translucent and suffused with the soft perfume of spices. Add rice and stir with wooden spoon so that it's all well-coated with the mixture. Pour in reserved liquid, stir, then cover and cook over gentle heat for about 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.
Just before you want to eat, drain off excess liquid from salmon, and flake it with a fork. Add this to rice, with eggs, coriander, lime juice and a drop or two of fish sauce (if using). Stir gently to mix. Sprinkle with lime zest and lime wedges.