I recently prepared this dish and it’s a winner! The star? A super flaky, succulent, salmon fillet that’s been brined for about thirty minutes prior to cooking. This process truly makes such a big difference with flavor, and just as important, the texture and overall appearance when it comes to salmon. By brining the fish, you eliminate the white stuff that oozes from the fish whilst cooking called albumin. Though unappetizing looking, it’s a perfectly harmless protein that gets released during the cooking process. When using this method, no doubt, your friends will ask how you get that restaurant quality appearance (and flavor). It’s a quick simple tip that can elevate your cooking.
So, on to the brining process. You want to start with this step to give your fish time in the brine to do it’s magic. To make the brine you need a simple ratio of balanced warm water and cool water. Take one cup of warm water, one tablespoon of sugar and one tablespoon of salt. Mix all together and then add one cup of cold water to help cool the mixture before adding the salmon fillet. This is also a good time to add any herbs, some lemon or dill, as the flavor will really get in because of osmosis (that’s for another blog). Once the brine is cool, add your fish and place in the fridge for about 30-35 minutes prior to cooking. I’m grilling, but you can fry, poach, bake or whatever you prefer here.
Meanwhile, you can concentrate on chopping and cooking your vegetables and preparing your couscous. I’m using peppers, zucchini, wilted spinach and toasted seeds to add some texture along with couscous I’ve toasted to give it more flavor. Again, use whatever veg you prefer/ have left to use. Before you saute your veg, toast the couscous in a pan for just a couple of minutes and keep it moving so you don’t burn it. This will release that beautiful nutty flavor I mentioned. Once toasted, put the couscous in a bowl and boil a kettle. Add enough boiled water to just cover the couscous, cover the top with some plastic wrap to finish off the cooking, and set it aside.
To infuse a bergamot flavor into your Salmon, you can use a simple earl grey tea bag. Just place it in a jug and add about a cup of the boiling water you used earlier. Discard your tea bag, pour in with the brine and cover with some plastic wrap.
Once you have the fish in the brine and the couscous on the side, you can start to cook off your vegetables in a touch of olive oil or butter. Season your mix, and then combine with the couscous using a fork to help fluff it up and adjust the seasoning to your liking. You can eat this at room temperature, so no rush when cooking your fish. Take your Salmon out of the fridge and drain it, give it a quick rinse, and then pat dry with a paper towel. To ensure a good sear on the fish, and to have an appetizing color, it is important to dry the fillet out before cooking. If you skip this step, you can end up with soggy fish, and know one likes that.
Lastly, cook the fish to your liking and enjoy. No fancy plating or presentation needed, all these ingredients speak for themselves. Brining is so simple, yet so effective, at producing a juicy, succulent finished product every time. Just remember, there’s always time to brine!