Salmon has been a favourite meal dating back to ancient times – the Chinese farmed the fish while their rice fields were flooded and the ancient Romans had fishponds where they kept theirs. Smoking and salting salmon is another technique that has been used for many thousands of years and the amount of fish we eat is actually increasing. Here we look at a perfect pairing – salmon and Parma ham.
Why salmon is good
Salmon has become popular in recent times as many people come to pay more attention to what they are eating as part of a healthy eating idea rather than just a particular diet. The fish always comes up a winner in these tests because it is filled with nutritionally beneficially stuff.
Omega-3 is one such nutrient that gets a lot of attention and rightly so. It occurs naturally in oily fish such as salmon and has been shown to help the heart, joints and even brain function. The realisation that eating fish had health benefits goes back to the 1970s when a study on Eskimos showed that they had a much lower rate of heart disease than the rest of the world and ate much more fish. There are also links to risk reduction of diseases from cancer to asthma, depression, diabetes and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Generally, salmon comes in three forms – tinned, fresh and smoked. All have a slightly different taste and lend themselves to different dishes. Of the three, fresh salmon fillets are the most versatile and can be used in hundreds of different dishes. If you are selecting a fresh salmon, make sure the skin if moist, smooth, and if it is whole, be certain the eyes are bright and clear. Have a sniff as well as the fish should smell fresh. You can also buy fish in packs that are prepared for you if (like me) you are a bit squeamish about the whole fish. When you buy fresh salmon, if you don’t eat it within a day or two, then pop it in the freezer and when you defrost it, never refreeze it.
Here’s a simple but very tasty dish from our resident chef Robert that combined Parma ham with salmon and also gives an opportunity to use the basil you have grown in a pesto dressing. If you don’t have the basil producing yet, then you can buy fresh herbs from the supermarket or even use a pre-made pesto if you prefer.
- 4 pieces salmon
- 4 slices Parma ham or prosciutto
- 85 ml olive oil
- 50 grams basil
- 30 grams parmesan grated
- 30 grams pine nuts toasted
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- salt & pepper
- Take each piece of salmon and wrap it in the Parma ham before frying each piece on a frying pan for two minutes per side to sear.
Place the four pieces onto a baking tray and cook in the oven at 180 degrees for 8-10 minutes until the salmon is thoroughly cooked and no longer pink through the middle.
While the salmon is cooking, put the basil, garlic, pine nuts and parmesan into a blender with the olive oil and mix together. The dressing should be a bright green colour and whatever isn’t used on the meal can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a week.
Serve the salmon onto a plate and drizzle as much of the dressing on as you like.
An ideal serving with the fish is new potatoes or perhaps a fresh salad. If you like to pair your wine with your meal, a nice pinot noir or a gamay is recommended because salmon is a meaty fish or for a white alternative, try a Pinot Gris.