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30-minute meal: spicy seafood salad with crispy salmon skin | Food


I spent my twenties and thirties traveling to south-east Asia; loving the food, the experiences, the relaxed way of life. When I create salads at home, components that remind me of holidays in Thailand or Vietnam often make their way in, alongside a mishmash of other techniques.

For this dish, a simple spicy salad dressing is used to deglaze the pan that the seafood is cooked in. This creates a sticky, caramelised glaze to coat the seafood, which contrasts well with the spritely fresh heat of the vegetable salad.

Spicy seafood salad with crispy salmon skin

Here I’ve used salmon and tiger prawns but squid, calamari or other firm-fleshed fish would be perfect to include.

I’ve also eaten this style of salad with firm tofu or boiled eggs instead of the seafood – have a play and mix it up as you like to make it work for your family.

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Serves: 4, plus intentional leftovers

To make the glaze and dressing
This is meant to be hot! Reduce the number of chillies, dilute with a little water or add some coconut cream blobs to your salad to take out some of the bite, if you need to.

2 large garlic cloves
3-4 small bird’s eye chillies
3 coriander roots
, attached to ~2 cm of stalk, well washed to remove sand
2 limes,
juiced, include the pith in the sauce
~150ml fish sauce
40g panela or raw sugar or palm sugar

Place garlic, chillies and coriander roots in a mortar and pestle or blender and work it until you have a thick paste. Add the lime juice and about equal portions of fish sauce to the mix. Add half the sugar and continue to taste and add more until sweetness is evident on your palate. You need to be able to taste chilli heat, sugar, sour and salt to get the balance right.

To make the salad
1 large bunch broccolini, cut into thirds
1 sweetcorn
2 lebanese cucumbers

½ punnet cherry tomatoes
1 medium carrot
1 shallot
1 avocado
Handful of coriander,
stalks and all, torn
Handful of parsley,
stalks and all, torn
Handful of Vietnamese mint or common mint
, stalks and all, torn
Coconut flakes
, lightly toasted
2 fillets salmon, ~600g
12 green prawns, peeled ~500g
Coconut oil

Steam the broccolini and corn for two minutes to brighten, yet retain the crunch, then allow to cool. Remove the corn from the cob, by slicing the kernels off carefully. Slice the cucumbers into quarters lengthways and then into 5cm long pieces. Cut the cherry tomatoes in halves. Finely slice or mandolin the carrot and shallot. Cut open the avocado, remove the seed and slice into 3cm chunky cubes.

Toss together all the vegetables and the herbs, except the avocado. Add a third to half of the dressing, depending on your desire for heat, gently toss and then add the avocado chunks.

Plate up the salad onto a shared platter or dish out the components onto individual plates then start to cook the seafood.

Heat a large fry pan with the coconut oil on high. Add the salmon fillets, skin side down and cook for 8-10 minutes until the skin is dark and you can see the colour of the fish changing up the side of the fillets.

While the salmon is cooking, slice open the prawn tails, along the back, removing the poo tube as you go if necessary, but leaving the tail attached.

Turn the salmon fillets over and carefully peel off the crispy skin, then let it rest on some paper towel to firm up into crisps.

Add the prawns carefully to the pan, laying them out so the butterflied section is touching the pan. Carefully add the other half of the dressing and allow it to sizzle and reduce, until you have a thick sticky sauce coating the cooked prawns – this should take a minute or two.

Remove the prawns to a plate and turn off the heat under the pan. Allow the salmon to rest in the pan for two minutes before gently breaking it up into 3-5cm pieces. Toss the salmon around in the sticky sauce, add the prawns back in and add a drizzle of extra coconut oil to make it loose and beautifully shiny.

Distribute the seafood over the salad, plus any extra glaze. Finally, sprinkle the salad with the toasted coconut flakes and the shards of crispy salmon skin.

For later in the week

  • Leftover salad and seafood is screaming to be made into rice paper rolls for lunch the next day.

  • Extra pieces of salmon can be cooked with the same method (with or without the dressing) and used inside an omelette for a quick hearty dinner the following day. Douse it with more dressing once its finished cooking for an extra kick.

  • If the dressing was too spicy for you too use just for this meal, it will keep in the fridge for a week or more, dilute with coconut cream and add to pumpkin soup, use as a dipping sauce for vegetable crudités or mix it through some mashed avo for a quick guacamole-style dip.

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