As a chef you learn food matches that are just meant to be - and some that are not. These flavours compliment in their contrast or their compatibility. There is of course science behind this and the plant families etc etc which you can look into if you are so inclined but this is more about the classics that we just learn and know. The trick is to take flavours you know work and make the styling or preparation your own. That's where your personality comes into your cooking and makes it fun and enjoyable for you. As always, rules are meant to be broken so if you're a fan of salami and pickle sandwhiches like I am, ignore the naysayers and crack open that jar in the fridge...
Now, to some classic combos:
- orange and fennel
- chocolate and pear (or chocolate and me!)
- garlic and onion
- basil and tomato
- oregano and lemon
- chilli and lime
- lamb and rosemary
- mint and peas
- salt and pepper (jokes)
There are of course a myriad of different combinations that are pleasing these are just an indication. I used fennel and orange as both are in season, the tartness of the orange is great with fatty fish like salmon and watercress has a peppery taste that lifts it all. The sauce was a thin tzatziki for a garlicy creamy punch. Let's just say Monday night dinner got a little bit fancy.
There's not a lot to explain with this dish as it was simple and straightforward. Just how we like dinner to be!
- 6 kipfler potatoes
- 1 baby fennel
- bunch of large watercress
- 2 oranges
- 1/2 cucumber
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 cup natural yoghurt
- juice of half a lemon
Bring the potatoes to the boil whole in a pan with salted water, cook until tender
Slice the fennel on a mandolin (v slicer for some - available in most kitchen stores or shaving with a knife if you're able will also do) and place in bowl on top of cut and washed watercress
Segment orange and sprinkle over
To make tzatziki grate the cucumber and garlic, add to bowl with yoghurt and mix. Season with salt and pepper and lemon juice. The lemon juice will thin the mixture along with the cucumber juice. If you'd like a thicker dip, squeeze the cucumber in a clean chux or muslin cloth and add to yoghurt adding juice until desired consistency.
Slice the kipler into rounds and pan-fry until golden, pan fry your salmon skin side down (if you like skin on) until skin is crispy, flip to finish and seal flesh side and serve.
I tossed the salad with some olive oil, placed the potatoes down first, then piled the salad up, salmon on top with the tzatziki spooned over as sauce. Yum yum!
A few hints for cooking salmon or any fish really
- cook it flesh side down first if there is no skin on - how do you tell which is the flesh side? the fillet will have a side with almost a silver marking on it, this was the skin side. The flesh side tends to have a plumper appearance - this is the presentation side as such so pan fry this side first for a nice golden colour then flip to the skin side to finish.
- if the skin is on, have a moderate heat to stop the skin sticking and make sure the oil is hot - this applies to cooking in general but it will help stop the skin sticking - remember it colours quickly so if you blast it with a high heat it may burn, moderate even heat creates the best results