Easy, tasty - a winner

Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Photo by Peter McIntosh.

I love this succulent, exotic salad. Anything that tastes so delicious, is so little trouble to make and can be prepared ahead of time has to be a winner.

The marinade adds flavour and keeps the salmon moist during its brief cooking. Do not overcook the salmon.

Its vibrant, tender, coral flesh should remain smooth, silky and succulent.

The cooled salmon is flaked into chunky pieces and tossed through a lemon-and-saffron-sharpened couscous salad.

Its distinctive smoky-floral fragrance and golden-yellow hue complements the salmon perfectly.

This is a superb main-course dish that requires nothing more than a tossed green salad to serve with it.


Flash-roasted salmon and saffron couscous salad
Serves 6-7


1kg centre-cut salmon fillet, skin on


1 Tbsp dark cane sugar
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp maple syrup
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Couscous salad

¼ tsp saffron threads
2 Tbsp boiling water
zest of 2 oranges and 2 lemons
2 cups couscous (350g total)
½ cup dried currants
3 cups boiling chicken or vegetable stock (750ml)
3 Tbsp lemon-flavoured extra virgin olive oil or extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp lemon juice
100g coarsely chopped brown-skinned almonds
½ cup coarsely chopped mint leaves
1 cup finely chopped chives or spring onions
garnish - mint sprigs, marigold or nasturtium flowers



Remove the pin bones from the salmon. I find tweezers useless for removing pin bones. However, needle-nosed pliers work perfectly. Pull the bones out at the same angle as they lie.

Lightly oil the base of a small roasting dish or shallow ovenproof casserole dish. Place the salmon in the roasting dish skin side down.

Stir the sugar and mustard together until smooth. Add the maple syrup and vinegar and mix well. Spoon the marinade over the salmon.

Cover with cling film and leave to marinate for 15 minutes or up to 2 hours. If marinating for more than half an hour, put the salmon in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before cooking.

Preheat the oven to 220degC. Place roasting dish in the oven and bake 10-13 minutes. The salmon should be pink and juicy in the centre. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Prepare the couscous salad

Crush the saffron threads in a small mortar or place the saffron in a tablespoon and using the back of a teaspoon, grind it from side to side. Place the saffron in a small bowl, add the boiling water, stir and set aside to steep.

In a large heatproof bowl, combine the orange zest, lemon zest, couscous, currants and the saffron liquid and pour over the boiling stock, Stir then cover with cling film and leave for 10 minutes. Fluff up with a fork.

Combine the olive oil and lemon juice in a small screw-top jar and pour over the couscous and toss through with a fork. Heat a medium-sized frypan over medium heat and add the almonds. Dry-fry the almonds, stirring often (they burn easily) until fragrant and brown. Tip on to paper towels to cool. When cool, chop roughly.

Shortly before serving stir in the chopped nuts, mint and chives or spring onions. Flake the cooled salmon into chunky pieces, and gently fold into the couscous salad. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

Arrange on a large, flat platter and garnish. I did not have nasturtiums or calendula marigolds in flower, so I used French marigolds because of their glorious colour. However, their petals have no taste and this marigold is not regarded as one of the edible decorative flowers. 

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