One of my favourite mid week meals is this Baked Salmon dish with Peas and Pearl Couscous. In 8 minutes you’ll have a succulent, juicy piece of salmon seasoned with cracked pepper, salt and sprinkled with thin slices of spring onions.
Baked Salmon with Peas and Pearl Couscous
It’s the simplicity and subtleness of this dish which allows the freshness and flavour of salmon to speak for itself. There aren’t any complicated techniques or obscure ingredients to buy. The peas and pearl couscous, cooked with garlic and butter give this dish just enough sauciness without overpowering the salmon. Season it well to bring out the full flavour of the fish.
I use pearl couscous for a bit of variety, but also it just complements the salmon so well. Also known as Israeli or Jerusalem couscous, pearl couscous is a type of pasta which has been toasted in an open flame. Most people would be aware of the regular couscous. Pearl couscous is much plumper and has a lovely velvety texture. It’s also a nice alternative to rice, and is readily available in supermarkets.
With all the major food groups in one dish (protein, carbohydrates and vegetables), you really don’t need much else. Speaking of vegetables, l usually don’t defrost the peas. I add them frozen. This is what l do for most of my dishes that require peas, and it’s perfectly fine. In fact, l noticed that Nigella Lawson doesn’t defrost the peas in one of her recipes in her cookbook, At My Table.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes (includes couscous) Serves: 4
- 4 salmon steaks (skin on and bones removed) (Note 1)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 spring onion, thinly sliced
- Olive oil (roughly 1 tbsp)
The Peas and Pearl Couscous
- 1 cup pearl couscous
- 40 – 50 g butter
- 3/4 cup peas (Note 2)
- 3 cups water
- 1 – 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 chopped tsp of each, mint and parsley
- Preheat the oven to 190C/375F.
- The salmon: Lightly oil a baking tray. Coat the salmon with olive oil and place on the tray, skin side down.
- Bake for 8 minutes (Note 3). After 8 minutes remove from the oven. To check if the salmon is cooked enough for you, insert a sharp tipped knife in the centre of a steak and twist it gently. The centre should be a nice coral colour; not raw nor too dry. If necessary, return to the oven for another minute or until cooked to your liking. Once cooked, set aside.
- The pearl couscous: Place 3 cups of hot water in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil and add the pearl couscous. Turn the temperature down to a rapid simmer. Cook for 6 – 7 minutes. To test if the couscous is ready, try one or two. The pearl couscous needs to be soft and slightly firm in the centre.
- Drain the pearl couscous over a bowl to reserve the cooking liquid.
- Melt the butter in the same saucepan. Add the garlic and saute over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the peas and 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid. Turn the heat up and boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Add the pearl couscous and stir through. Season to taste. Just before serving stir through the parsley and mint. (Note 4)
- Spoon the pearl couscous onto plates. Place the salmon on top and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with thinly sliced spring onion.
- The salmon steaks l use for this recipe are roughly 13 cm/ 5 inches long and 4 cm/ 1.5 inches wide. The cooking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of your steaks.
- I prefer to use baby peas as they have a slightly sweeter taste.
- To preserve the tenderness and juiciness of the salmon, l aim for slightly under.
- The pearl couscous will continue to absorb the liquid, therefore it is important to serve immediately. I sometimes add a little more cooking liquid and butter as l like this dish to be a bit on the saucy side.
The reason l make this dish at least once a fortnight is that it is very easy and quick to prepare. But ‘quick’ doesn’t mean that it isn’t flavoursome. If it wasn’t tasty, l wouldn’t be making it.
I hope it becomes a regular at your place too!!