Greatest recipes ever: Wild salmon with Vietnamese cucumbers

‘David Tanis, one of my favourite cookery writers, takes what for me is a quintessentially British fish and puts a deliciously exotic, Asian twist on it. If you can buy wild salmon as a treat, from a good source, not only will you be kind to the environment, but you’ll get the true taste of this magnificent fish. Otherwise, buy organic-farmed or wild sea trout’

Thomasina Miers

Wild salmon with Vietnamese cucumbers

Extract from David Tanis’s – A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes

Published by Artisan

Wild salmon is the healthiest and most sustainable salmon, and it’s also the best tasting by far. Farmed salmon are as bland and flavourless as factory chickens.They’re fed a dubious diet and require antibiotics to control the disease that inevitably results from their crowded pens. When they escape, farmed fish endanger native species. Need any more reasons to go wild? ‘Fish gotta swim’ for both flavour and health. To accompany the salmon and cucumbers, serve plain, steamed jasmine rice and sweet potatoes roasted in the skin.


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A side of wild salmon, about 4lb
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Mint, cilantro [corriander] and basil sprigs
Lime wedges
Vietnamese cucumbers (recipe follows)


Bring the salmon to room temperature, and preheat the oven to 350˚F/175˚C/gas 4. Put the fish on a baking sheet, and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle a little olive oil over the salmon and rub
it into the flesh. Bake for 20-25 minutes, just until juices appear on the surface.

When probed with a fork at the thickest part, the salmon should be moist-cooked through, but barely. Transfer the fish to a warmed platter, and let it rest for at least five minutes before serving.

Before bringing the fish to the table, embellish the platter with mint, cilantro and basil sprigs, and surround the salmon with lime wedges. At the table, break the salmon into rough portions. Pass the cucumbers to be spooned over the fish.

Vietnamese cucumbers

This easy salad is more like a relish, and can be made according to your own taste: very spicy, which is how I like it, or quite restrained. Look for palm sugar in Asian or Indian markets, or substitute Mexican piloncillo or raw brown sugar.

Serves 8-10


4 large cucumbers
Salt and pepper
Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc man) or Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
A 1in piece of ginger, peeled and cut into fine strips
Palm sugar
Serraños or jalapeños, or fresh Thai chillies
2 or 3 limes
Mint sprigs
Basil sprigs
Thinly sliced scallions [spring onions] or sweet onion

Peel the cucumbers, cut them lengthwise in half, and remove the seeds with a spoon if they’re large. Slice the cucumber into thickish half-moons and put them in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle lightly with fish sauce, then add the ginger and a couple of tablespoons of palm sugar. Toss well, and let the cucumbers sit for five minutes or so.

Add a good spoonful of finely chopped Serraño or jalapeño chilies (seeds removed, if desired, to lessen spiciness) or finely silvered Thai chillies. Squeeze over the juice of two limes and toss again, then cover and refrigerate until serving.

Before serving, add a fistful of roughly chopped mint and basil leaves. Taste and adjust the seasoning with lime juice as well as salt and pepper. Garnish with thinly sliced scallions or paper-thin slices of sweet onion.

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