This is the sort of very quick dish I’ll make for myself when I’m able to cook. It’s childishly simple, relying, as it does, on bottled sauces
For one person take 2 salmon fillets, you know the type, wide strips, thick in the middle, thinning down at the ends. Sit them, skin side down, on a pad of kitchen paper, to dry the skin, and wipe any moisture off the fish itself.
Preheat the oven to 200C – I use a mini oven, it really does keep fuel costs down.
First, knock up a dish out of foil, big enough to take the fish, and set aside. When you’ve finished, the foil dish and any mess can be binned, saving on washing up – I always do this when roasting or grilling fish.
In a frying pan, heat a knob of butter and a splash of olive oil – just enough to give a thin film when the butter melts. Swirl to mix the oil and butter and raise the heat until it fizzles – put in the fillets, skin-side down and fry until the fish just above the skin turns pale pink.
Remove to the foil dish, spoon any pan juices over the fish, put it in the oven and cook until the fish is an overall pale pink. Give it a scant 5 minutes extra – no more, then remove and set aside. This is where a mini oven with its glass door and eye-level position pays off. You can see what’s going on and you do need to watch it.
It’s best to have salmon a tad underdone, as it will continue cooking when removed from the oven or pan – when served, you want just a touch of deeper pink in the middle.
You can, of course, simply fry the salmon (or even, god forbid, steam it!), if you wish, though the shape lends itself more to roasting and it’s less greasy. Doesn’t have to be salmon, either – I’ve used coley very successfully. Don’t be tempted to marinate the fish in soy and sweet chilli sauces first, as that just swamps the taste of the fish – the flavourings should enhance, not dominate.
Serve, pour over any pan juices – you might get a little more in the oven, if they don’t evaporate – and drizzle with soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce. Tesco supply little tubs with a smear of sweet chilli sauce with the fish, but there’s nothing like enough. I use the Encona brand – hot enough to be interesting, not so hot it wipes out everything else.
If I feel up to it, I’ll soften a well-rinsed and finely chopped salted anchovy fillet, with a little finely-chopped shallot, in olive oil and butter, then add a little lemon zest and a couple of courgettes, deseeded and chopped. Cook over a medium heat until soft and a little browned, and serve those instead of spuds and peas, seasoned with pepper (the anchovy will supply the salt).
The courgettes can be done earlier, even the previous day, and reheated.
Otherwise, a few buttered new potatoes and some peas will do the job. Or a salad, or even noodles (soft, bland, Udon noodles would be my choice, dressed with the tiniest touch of sesame oil), and, of course, 2 fillets might well do 2 people. Me, I like fish!
NB: These particular fillets, no matter how you cook them, are an awkward shape, and the thin part will inevitably be overcooked by the time the thick part is done. Don’t worry about it.
The Basic recipe, with spuds, salad, or noodles, gets 2 spoons; add another if you go with the courgettes