A white plate topped with salmon fish fingers, asparagus, spring peas, and a wedge of lemon.

The brilliance of these salmon fish fingers with asparagus and snow peas isn’t just in the buttery, perfectly cooked spring veggies. The genius lies in the 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.–Renee Schettler Rossi

A white plate topped with salmon fish fingers, asparagus, spring peas, and a wedge of lemon.

Salmon Fish Fingers with Asparagus and Spring Peas

5 / 4 votes
These salmon fish fingers with asparagus and spring peas are an easy, healthy meal that uses an innovative couscous coating on the salmon and captures the best of spring vegetables.
David Leite
Servings6 servings
Calories538 kcal
Prep Time40 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes


For the fish fingers

  • Six (6-ounce) skinless salmon fillets
  • 3/4 cup uncooked couscous, (NOT Israeli couscous)
  • Boiling water
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, preferably organic (1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Flour for dusting
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more as needed

For the buttered vegetables

  • 30 asparagus tips
  • 6 baby zucchini or pattypans, roughly chopped or halved
  • 9 ounces mixed spring peas (including snow peas, sugar snap peas, or shelled peas) or slender green beans
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • Chopped mint leaves and chives, to serve


Start the fish fingers

  • Pour the couscous into a bowl, add enough boiling water to just cover, and then set aside until double in size, up to 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 rimmed baking sheet and let it dry for 10 minutes.

Start the buttered vegetables

  • 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.

Finish the fish fingers

  • To the dried 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, at least 2 to 3 minutes on each side for medium-rare, depending on the thickness of your fillets. Transfer to paper towels and let rest.

Finish the vegetables

  • Heat the butter and mustard in a large skillet or wok. Add the drained vegetables and toss well. Heat until warmed through, 30 seconds to 1 minute, then toss in the mint and chives.

To serve

  • 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.
Cooking for Friends

Adapted From

Cooking for Friends

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 538 kcalCarbohydrates: 31 gProtein: 44 gFat: 27 gSaturated Fat: 10 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6 gMonounsaturated Fat: 9 gTrans Fat: 0.5 gCholesterol: 186 mgSodium: 136 mgPotassium: 1474 mgFiber: 6 gSugar: 7 gVitamin A: 1950 IUVitamin C: 62 mgCalcium: 118 mgIron: 6 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2000 Alastair Hendy. Photo © 2000 David Loftus. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

The spiced couscous used as the “breading” creates a delicious crust on the fish and keeps the salmon moist and flavorful.

I used asparagus, zucchini, and snow peas for the vegetable mix and this made a great vegetable accompaniment, usable with just about any other beef, poultry, pork or fish dish. This easily serves 6.

All of the vegetables were blanched to a bright green color in 1 to 2 minutes. If you use a big enough pot, you could probably do the vegs all together rather than one at a time (less fussy!)

The crust on this fish was different and delicious. I would have thought that a couscous crust would be too time consuming, but it really wasn’t at all. The method for cooking the couscous left it dry and perfect for turning into a crumb.

The vegetables were perhaps a little big on the butter (and I love butter!), but an added squeeze of fresh lemon at the end would provide some balance.

I made this twice. Interestingly, the last time I was a bit short on couscous for coating, and this time I had the right amount.

I used baby zucchini and green beans. I think broccoli would also be good. First time I used frozen peas. I blanched my vegetables for 1 1/2 minutes each. I prefer them to still have some crunch.

My experience first time around was that trying to cut the fish fingers in half was difficult and led to the crust falling off. This time by accident I was cutting my own fillet into fingers, and I cut them half has big as recommended. This was better because then each finger had a nice coating and didn’t require cutting after cooking. For cooking, first time around it required closer to 12 minutes to cook as the fillets were quite thick.

This time they were smaller pieces, but still around 7 to 8 minutes total cook time. I think that obviously such a size of fish would usually take less, but only if its in a pan that is not full.

I have a large carbon steel pan that could hold and cook all the pieces at once without overcrowding, but on a medium heat to brown the crust and also cook on each side for long enough, it did require more time than specified. I like to cook mine so its just done, I’m not sure how you’d describe it, but I like it so the flesh at the centre is still rosy but has clouded over and is no longer a bright pink/salmon color. I guess when it turns from translucent to just opaque.

For the vegetables, a little longer to heat through, perhaps 2 minutes, again just because of the volume of vegetables. One could do it in batches, but I did it all at once and it took a couple minutes to warm everything through.

This made 6 servings that were delicious for dinner as well as leftovers for lunch. Definitely will make again and use some of the flavors and methods in other cooking.

This recipe is a keeper.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Fish sticks for adults?! Yes, please! We loved these flavorful Salmon Fish Fingers; what a unique idea to coat them in cooked cous cous as opposed to breadcrumbs. A gorgeous presentation, and the coating of ground ginger, lemon zest, cumin and coriander was a delight. Seeing as though it isn’t Spring, I opted to serve this with a sauté of late-season sauteed zucchini, chard and cherry tomatoes instead of the buttered spring peas and asparagus.

  2. Couscous is generally made with semolina, so not gluten-free. You could sub millet couscous. Or maybe even millet for a bit of crunch.
    I have this cookbook and have made the dish with barley couscous. That’s not gluten-free either, but it was delicious.

    1. Thanks Hope. Great catch! And wonderful suggestion on using millet couscous for those who are gluten-sensitive. We’ll definitely have to try it with the barley couscous – that sounds wonderful.