Executive chef Scott Drewno often uses Arctic char for this Indian-inspired dish at his restaurant, the Source by Wolfgang Puck, but says salmon works well, too. He recommends discarding the salmon skin before serving and allowing the vegetable garnishes to provide a contrast in texture.
The ingredient list is long, but many of the same ingredients are called for in the marinade and the raita. The recipe can be cut in half.
Make Ahead: The cucumbers need to be salted for 1 hour, then marinated for 2 hours. The salmon needs to marinate for 2 hours, either at a cool room temperature or in the refrigerator. The raita needs to marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- For the cucumbers
- 4 small japanese or persian cucumbers, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup plain whole yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
- 1/2 teaspoon cracked caraway seed
- 4 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- For the salmon and marinade
- 6 tablespoons sweet paprika
- Generous pinch ground turmeric
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground coriander
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seed
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
- 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
- 1 cup honey
- 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
- Four 4-ounce skin-on salmon fillets
- Beet strings, for garnish (see NOTES)
- Carrot strings, for garnish (see NOTES)
- Scallions, for garnish (see NOTES)
- 1 teaspoon garam masala, for garnish
- For the raita
- 3/4 cup plain whole yogurt
- 3/4 cup crème fraîche
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup packed chopped cilantro leaves
- 2 cups chopped fresh mint
- 2 small japanese or persian cucumbers, cut into small dice
- 1 medium red onion, cut into small dice
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
- 3/4 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
For the cucumbers: Place the cucumber slices in a colander. Sprinkle evenly with the salt; cure at room temperature for 1 hour, then rinse well and drain. Transfer to a medium bowl, along with the yogurt, dill, caraway seed, rice vinegar and sugar. Mix to coat evenly. Cover and marinate at room temperature for 2 hours.
For the salmon and marinade: Combine the paprika, turmeric, cayenne pepper, coriander, cumin seed, ground ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper, sea salt, garlic, tamarind paste, honey and yogurt in a blender. Puree until smooth, then pour into a gallon-size zip-top bag. Add the salmon fillets, pressing out as much air as possible. Seal and massage to coat thoroughly. Marinate at a cool room temperature or in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, make the raita: Combine the yogurt, creme fraiche, honey, cilantro, mint, cucumbers, red onion, salt, vinegar, lemon juice, garam masala and cayenne pepper (to taste) in a blender. Puree until well incorporated. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed. Transfer to a serving bowl; cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. The yield is about 2 cups.
When ready to cook the fish, position an oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler element; preheat the broiler.
Arrange the marinated fillets in a large, ovenproof skillet, skin sides down. Broil for about 3 minutes, using some of the marinade to baste the fish several times. Discard any remaining marinade. The salmon should be soft inside and barely opaque.
Create a small pool of raita on each plate. Spoon equal amounts of the marinated cucumbers at the center of the raita. Place a fillet on top of each portion, carefully discarding the salmon skin as you work.
Toss together the beet strings, carrot strings and scallions in a medium bowl, then use the mixture to garnish each salmon fillet. Sprinkle each portion with garam masala; serve right away.
NOTES: To make beet strings, peel a small beet. Use a zester with a single slot for cutting or a small paring knife to cut matchstick-thin sticks or strips that follow around the vegetable. Place in ice water (separately) until ready to use.
To make carrot strings, peel a medium carrot. Use a zester with a single slot for cutting or a small paring knife to cut matchstick-thin sticks or strips down the length of the vegetable. Place in ice water (separately) until ready to use.
To prep the scallions, cut the white and light-green parts on an extreme diagonal into 1 1/2- to 2-inch slices. Wrap in barely damp paper toweling until ready to use.
Adapted from Scott Drewno, executive chef at The Source by Wolfgang Puck.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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