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Salmon tacos with cabbage slaw

At the start of the year, buzzing with good intentions and goals for 2015, I set up several reminders on my phone. Eat breakfast. Yes, I need a cue for this extremely important daily task, to nag me, otherwise the window closes and I’m left hungry. Cod liver oil. To prompt me to take this age old supplement that I wholeheartedly believe in. Salmon. A memo to encourage me to eat oily fish more often. Most of the time these words that flash across the screen of my phone are hastily dismissed. Yet a subliminal message must trickle through to my consciousness, because today I had the urge to make salmon tacos with cabbage slaw.

Fish tacos are the best. Light. Fresh. Tasty. Colourful. Zingy. Zesty. Crunchy. Soft. Fun. This list of adjectives alone makes me want to prepare and scoff some right now. Plus they make great informal finger food and create a little bit of theatre when they are presented on a long plank, all neatly standing in a row, strands of pink cabbage and leafy coriander rustically on show, protruding from the sides.

Salmon tacos with cabbage slaw

For two.

For the salmon

  • 2 fillets of salmon
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

Mix the spices on a plate and then coat the salmon in them by pressing the fish onto the plate.

Cook the salmon on all sides in a fairly hot pan or on the barbecue, only turning when each side has a lovely crust.

For the cabbage slaw

  • red cabbage
  • juice of a lime
  • pinch of sea salt

Slice the cabbage as finely as you can, pour over the lime juice and add the pinch of salt then massage the slaw with you hands. This step will soften the cabbage slightly and make it juicy and flavoursome. Add some chopped avocado to the mix if you wish.

To serve

  • warm soft flour tortillas
  • mayonaise
  • coriander, washed and coarsely chopped
  • lime wedges

To assemble

Take a warm tortilla and spread a dessert spoon of mayonnaise across the middle section. Flake some salmon and place it on top of the mayo. Top the fish with some slaw, a few sprigs of coriander, a squeeze of lime. Now simply roll up and enjoy.

Enjoy this recipe? Then you might like this quick Cajun salmon recipe

Overcooked quinoa 2 ways.

I’m not quite sure what I was thinking, but I added double the recommended amount of water to cook some quinoa the other day. Having spied some preserved lemons at the back of the fridge, I was intending to make a Morroccan inspired salad to go with some lamb cutlets. Then besides dinner, I got stuck in to other household chores, rushing to get them done before Thea woke up and totally forgot about the simmering pot on the stove. After a sharp intake of breath when I remembered the intended base for the salad, which now resembled a mass of tiny, sludgy, beige pearls, I composed myself and set about thinking what the hell was I going to do with a mound of overcooked quinoa.

I’m not one to waste food, which drives Mark crazy. He despairs with all the little parcels of leftovers in the fridge, but I always find a use for them. Stale sourdough bread is consistently made into crumbs for schnitzels, the ends of cheese are grated to go into a smelting pot in the freezer for pizza, cheese sauce and the occasional toasted sandwich and leftover gravy is added to béchamel sauce for robust green leafed  vegetable gratins that I love to serve with roast pork.  Faced with the watery, stodgy, flavourless mound of pseudo grains, I thought about what they resembled and in turn might be converted into. The mushy quinoa seemed like it would work well in place of mashed potato to make salmon cakes. And the fishcakes could be spiked with preserved lemon, capers, dil and parsley, punchy ingredients that would transform the bland pile into something edible once again. Some crisp green leaves would form a complete evening meal and once again dinner was back on track.

But wait. That’s not all. After making six large salmon fishcakes, I still had oodles of overcooked quinoa left. I started to wonder if I’d added four times the amount of water I was supposed to! That or I’d had a brain freeze and cooked enough for a large catering order. Either way, another recipe was needed to make use of what still remained. With the tiny person still asleep, I embarked upon another dish. This time a recipe from the Petite kitchen cookbook for Cheddar and quinoa muffins with sun dried tomatoes and basil. Single serve snacks that could be put in the freezer for when a tummy rumble struck. They’re very simple and quick to make and baked in little paper cases, an entirely portable snack.

After all the huffing and puffing and scolding of myself for not having set a timer for the quinoa, I was now able to survey my kitchen bench burdened with dinner, possible lunches and enough snacks for the foreseeable future. Hindsight usually reveals mistakes to be entirely perfect in their outcome.

Salmon fishcakes – a recipe using overcooked quinoa.

4 cups (over)cooked quinoa
2 fillets of cooked salmon, flaked
A handful of chopped parsley
A handful of chopped dill
1-2 tbs chopped capers
1 preserved lemon, rind finely chopped
Sea salt and black pepper
2 eggs

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and then shape into tennis ball size fish cakes.

I will confess that I tried to pan fry one of the salmon cakes, imagining that it would go crisp and chewy. This was not the case as the patties were too wet from, ahem, the overcooked quinoa. Baking resulted in a much better result.

Bake for 30-40 minutes at 180C.

Enjoy with a crisp green leaf salad.

Cheddar and quinoa muffins with sun dried tomatoes and basil.

From My Petite Kitchen Cookbook by Eleanor Ozich

540g cooked quinoa
4 eggs
100g Cheddar cheese, grated
2 large handfuls basil, chopped
40g sun dried tomatoes, chopped
Sea salt and black pepper

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and then divide among the holes of paper lined muffin tin.

Makes approximately 6 large and 12 mini muffins.

Bake at 180C for about 25 minutes.

A quick cajun salmon recipe.

Up until six o’clock last night I din’t know what I was going to cook for dinner. Inspiration hit me whilst I was out on my evening run, on the return leg of my tri-weekly training session for the Sydney marathon. I’m still in the very early stages of clocking up the kilometres to make my dream of running a marathon reaity and sometimes it feels like my efforts will be in vain to complete the 42 kilometre race. Other days I realise that I am actually getting fitter and that there may still be hope of crossing the finishing line in September. With increasing mileage to come, I’m sure I will have a lot of time to ponder the contents of my fridge and what’s on the menu for dinner. In my fridge last night I had two pieces of salmon, some corn, sweet potato and red cabbage to play with. What might make these ingredients into a satisfying meal? And quickly because it was late and exercise works up an appetite!

To be honest, this is one of my favourite games, putting together a few ingredients and creating a coherent meal from them. Cabbage lends itself to slaw, finely shredded with the addition of salt and lemon juice. Sometimes when making coleslaw I add carrot, onion, fennel, celery, even apple to make a refreshing, crisp and colourful salad. Corn is great cooked directly over the flame on the barbecue, until the kernals are blackened and smoky. At this point you could smear the cob with mayo and anoint with some finely grated sharp cheese like Parmesan, or simply cut the kernels from the cob in long strips and smother them with salt and butter. Sweet potato can be mashed, roasted, cooked whole, in wedges or cubes. As for the salmon, there are so many ways to cook this fish, but by far my favourite method is skin side down, in a pan with a drop of oil, over a medium heat for about 10 minutes. I don’t turn the fish, but watch as it becomes a paler shade of pink from the bottom up. The skin turns to fish crackling, while the interior remains pink and moist.

The seasoning that springs to mind to unite the cabbage slaw, charred corn, roasted sweet potato and crisp skinned salmon is Cajun. A smoky, slightly hot spice mix that lends itself to barbecue cooking and can quickly and easily be made with ingredients from the pantry and garden. Rubbed over the salmon before cooking, it brings together the produce lurking in my fridge into a pretty alright week night dinner.

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Cajun salmon seasoning

  • Equal quantities smoked paprika, coriander and cumin
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • A tsp of chopped fresh oregano
  • Sea salt and black pepper

Simply combine all ingredients and roll your desired protein in the mix before cooking. The above amount made enough for two pieces of salmon.

Smoky corn slaw

  • Red cabbage, finely shredded
  • Half a sweet potato cubed and roasted for 20 minutes at 180 degrees
  • 2 cobs of corn cooked on the open flame of a barbecue for about 30 minutes, the kernels then cut from the cobs in long strips
  • A handful of chopped parsley
  • Half a diced red onion
  • Strained juice of half a lemon
  • generous pinch of sea salt.

Mix all ingredients and leave to mingle while you cook the salmon. Plenty for 2.