This asparagus mixture is wonderful on its own or with fish, meat, or poultry. Vary the ingredients according to whatever is fresh and exciting in the market.–Alastair Hendy
LC Underselling Oneself Note
Hendy is right about the vegetables being wonderful. And about them being variable according to what’s in season. But what he doesn’t mention is the brilliance of his approach to salmon, in which gently spiced cooked couscous forms a surprisingly superb (not to mention remarkably quick-to-make) crust for the salmon. The cooked couscous serves as barrier between salmon and skillet, ensuring the fish remains moist while creating a crisp textural contrast.
Salmon Fish Fingers with Asparagus and Spring Peas
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Pour the couscous into a bowl, add enough boiling water to just cover, and then set aside until doubled in size, about 5 minutes. Fluff up the couscous with a fork, leave for 5 minutes more, and then fluff up again. Spread the couscous out on a wide plate and let dry for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the asparagus until bright green, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove and transfer to a bowl of ice water. Repeat with the zucchini or pattypans, and then again with the peas or green beans.
To the couscous, add the garlic, lemon zest, cumin, coriander, ginger, salt, and pepper and toss.
Pat the salmon dry with paper towels. Dip the salmon first in the flour, then in the beaten egg, then in the couscous mixture, patting on extra couscous to completely coat it. Transfer to a plate and refrigerate for just a few minutes.
Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the couscous-coated salmon and sear gently, turning once, until cooked to the desired doneness, about 2 minutes on each side for medium-rare. Transfer to paper towels and let rest.
Heat the butter and mustard in a large skillet or wok. Add the drained vegetables and toss well. Heat through for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then toss in the mint and chives.
Slice each salmon fillet lengthwise to make 2 fingers. Place 2 pieces of salmon on each plate and pile the mustard-and-mint-buttered vegetables on top. Sprinkle with the chives and serve.
Salmon Fish Fingers with Asparagus and Spring Peas Recipe © 2000 Alastair Hendy. Photo © 2000 David Loftus. All rights reserved. All materials used with permission.