Living in hot and humid Singapore food can’t be just heavy heavy heavy all the time (unfortunately). Although there is a place for the stodgy Western flavours of braised meat and mashed potato or sticky toffee pudding, it’s not very often. I haven’t stopped sweating since I got here, and stuffing myself with butter and carbs really isn’t a viable option, no matter how much I want it to be.
Although heavy foods cannot be a day-to-day reality here (and probably shouldn’t be anywhere), it doesn’t mean you have to avoid tasty food. In a lot of people’s minds deep, bold flavours are too closely aligned with density, when that doesn’t have to be the case. Light, flavoursome dishes are a real thing, and easy to create. Use decent ingredients, and you’re already onto a winner, as long as you don’t overcomplicate matters.
Salmon is the perfect ingredient for such a dish, as it’s delicious and full of flavour while being relatively forgiving when it comes to the cooking bit. The great thing about salmon is that if you take it off the heat a bit early, and it’s not quite cooked all the way through, who cares?! It’s just like a bit more sashimi-ish than you we’re planning.
Speaking of sashimi, and therefore Japan, a great ingredient to boost salmon in the flavour stakes is miso, or more specifically, in this case, shinshu or yellow miso. Shinshu miso is the middle-of-the-road option when it comes to the many varieties of fermented soybean and koji, and packs an epic umami-bomb of flavour. Combined just with some salted butter in a 1:2 ratio it makes an amazing glaze going-on crust for the salmon.
To go with the miso salmon, I used some simply-prepared fresh edamame beans (to keep with the Japanese theme), alongside some lightly toasted couscous with lemon and herbs, and soft boiled quails eggs. The edamame beans make total sense to use in this dish because they’re just immature soybeans (I literally just found this out, and the link was in no way intentional, I’m not that smart) and are essentially the miso’s younger sibling. Meanwhile, the soft boiled eggs provide a smooth richness and almost-sauce that pulls everything together.
As a side note, cooking the salmon with the skin-on really helps it to stay in once piece, which aids the process no-end, although I would suggest taking it off before serving to anyone if less than crisp. Unfortunately, the constant basting with the miso butter often has the somewhat detrimental effect of softening any crispy skin you may have formed, and no one wants to eat that.
A light dish delivering epic flavour. Backed up by toasted herby couscous, fresh edamame beans and little runny eggs, the miso-coated salmon packs a deep umami punch, perfect for any time of the year.
- 2 salmon fillets skin-on
- 2 tbsp salted butter
- 1 tbsp shinshu (yellow) miso
- 100 g pearl couscous
- 250 mL boiling water
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp fresh dill finely chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 250 g fresh edamame beans
- 8 quail eggs
Bring the salmon out and allow it to come to room temperature for around 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring the butter to come to room temperature and beat together with the miso to combine well. Set aside.
Heat a large non-stick pan with oil over a medium to high heat. Place the salmon into the pan skin-side down and fry for around 2 – 3 minutes, or until the skin has turned golden brown.
Cover the top of the salmon in the miso butter, before flipping the fillet over and turning down the heat to medium. Continue cooking the salmon for around 3 minutes until the fish feels firm to the touch, all the while basting with the miso butter.
Transfer to a plate and serve with the garnishes.
For the couscous, heat some oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and add the couscous and cook while stirring continuously until lightly browned and toasted, around 5 minutes.
Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently while covered until all of the water has been absorbed, around 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Add the other ingredients and season well with salt and pepper. Add more lemon juice to preference. Serve.
For the edamame, bring a large saucepan of heavily salted water (think seawater) to the boil and add the beans. Cook for around 5 minutes or until the beans inside the pods are tender, remove from the heat and plunge into cold water.
Shell the beans from the pods and serve.
Place room temperature quail eggs into water at a rolling boil for 2.5 minutes. Remove into cold water and leave for 3 minutes.
Peel the eggs and serve.