Tag Archives: bio

Fall menu: Blackened salmon with pumpkin fries and mango sauce

I love salmon. Smoked, poached, baked, grilled, in papillotte…  I wouldn’t know which way to choose. And while preparing salmon is pretty easy, it’s not always easy to decide what to serve it with. That’s my experience, at least. Sure, I love smoked salmon quiche with broccoli and goat cheese, and there’s plenty of classical salmon recipes, but every once in a while, we want something different, no? So I revisited one of my favorite ways to prepare salmon, which is blackened salmon. It’s a recipe that originated in Cajun cooking, in which the salmon is rubbed in a thick layer of spices and then baked, creating a ‘blackened’ spicy crust. Mmmm, I could hardly wait for dinner time once I decided I would make this.

But what to serve with it? There’s the problem. I once ate blackened tuna with mango sauce in Cactus Taverna, a great restaurant in Salisbury. But good fresh tuna is hard and expensive to find in Belgium, and I try to avoid tuna since it’s going extinct due to overfishing.  I decided to go for blackened salmon with mango sauce, and be bold and try out pumpkin and sweet potato as vegetable sides to balance the spicyness. Exciting! As it was kind of an experiment, I looked up a few ways to make blackened tuna, mango sauce and sweet potato baked fries on Tastespotting (always a great source of inspiration, if just for the wonderful pictures).

The result was delicious. There’s the spicy, slightly crunchy salmon, balanced by the sweet and mild mango. The earthy but flavorful pumpkin and sweet potato chips, also slightly spicy, make for a great balance. I have yet to perfect an elegant way to serve the plate, but the taste was surprisingly complementary. Do try at home!

Blackened salmon spices

Making the mango sauce

 

Fall vegetables

Pumpkin and sweet potato fries

 

Coating the salmon with spices

Baking the blackened salmon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The result: blackened salmon with pumpkin fries and mango sauce

 

Recipe for four people:

For the blackened salmon:

-four pieces of fresh salmon, preferably bio/organic

-spices: black and white pepper, salt, paprika, thyme, basil, rosemary, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, ground dry chili flakes or spicy chily powder, cayenne pepper (you’re free to improvise according to your own pantry here)

-butter

For the mango sauce:

-Two very ripe mangos

-Juice of one lime

For the pumpkin and sweet potato fries:

-Half of a small, flavorful pumpkin (I used a chestnut pumpkin)

-2-3 sweet potatoes (I actually didn’t have real sweet potatoes but some kind of in-between Turkish long potato I picked up at the local store)

-olive oil

-salt and pepper, dried herbs such as thyme, rosemary, basil, some spicy chili powder

Start cooking!

Start with the pumpkin and sweet potato as they will take the longest. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (about 400 F). Peel the pumpkin and potatoes and cut into long fry-shaped wedges. Put them on a metal oven-proof platter covered with a sheet of parchment paper. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and spices, toss carefully so everything is covered. Put in the oven and let bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the fries are soft but still have bite (this depends on the kind of vegetables, your oven…)

While the vegetables are in the oven, start with the mango sauce. Peel the mangoes and cut them into cubes. Put in a mixer bowl with the freshly squeezed lime juice. Mix until you have a thick, fluid sauce. Keep the sauce ready in a saucepan to heat before you’re serving.

Cut the salmon into the desired amount of pieces if necessary. Mix all the spices. I don’t use an exact formula but I tend to start with the first listed in the largest quantities, then move down to smaller quantities, depending on how spicy you like the crust to be. When the mixture is ready, heat up a pan (a grill pan is also possible, try to use one that conducts heat well, like a cast iron) and let some of the butter melt at a low temperature. Take the salmon and sweep it through the butter on both sides, then through the spice mixture.  Put a little more butter into the pan (you don’t need to smother the salmon, just so the crust won’t burn) and heat it up. When the butter is hot and melted, put the wedges of salmon into the pan and bake on both sides until the insides are done (not overdone, it really is a shame to ruin salmon by letting it get too dry, so check regularly on the inside of it’s still rosy).

Put the salmon on a (warm) plate, arrange the fries around it or underneath and top with some hot mango sauce. Yum!

Friday Bio Lunch

It’s Friday! That means the end of the work week is near. Oh, sweet weekend, how I’ve missed you! But Friday also means I’m often alone at the office. That’s okay, it gives me the opportunity to get some tasks done like typing out reports. But it also means I’m totally free in my lunch choice! (well of course I can’t take the metro to the other side of the city, but I can pick from some of the various lunch places in the vicinity.) Our regular sandwich bar around the corner has very good sandwiches, but their salads are a bit overpriced compared to what you get. Besides that, I try to find lunch places that use bio ingredients. So, a few Fridays ago, I found the BioLounge! Time for a little review (no photos available, sorry).

My absolute new favorite lunch option is their salad bar. At the BioLounge, you can choose between two types of cardboard boxes: one of 5,50 euros (definitely large enough for me) and one of 6,50 euros (a bigger one, for very hungry people). You’re free to fill these yourself with a choice of bio veggies and salads. These consist of about ten different kinds: cold potatoes with spices and raisins, a kind of tzatziki with yoghurt and cucumber, plain lettuce with tomatoes, green beans (I don’t usually love beans, but there’s something really tasty about these ones – I think it’s garlic), pasta salad with basilic and pine nuts, cold rice with veggies, carrot-and-coleslaw-salad, cold lentil salad and some great vegetable beignets.  The options vary a bit daily. As toppings, they offer sesame seeds and two types of balsamic crème. I usually sprinkle my salad with the raspberry-balsamic.

So, their salad bar is really delicious and you’re free to fill your box with whatever you like. They also have quiche, wraps, sandwiches and the inevitable sweets. Cheesecake with a speculoos piecrust (which seems to be very popular in Belgian lunch places these days), apple pie, moelleux… All very tasty and a little waistline-hostile. Since it’s Friday and we all deserve a treat once in a while, I went for the lemon pie. At first tasting, it’s quite sour (which tends to happen when lemons are involved) but I don’t mind that. The crust is soft and nothing really special. Overall, the lemon pie is very tasty but slightly too sour and I personally would have liked the crust a little crispier. My sister’s lemon squares (which are just as sour but more balanced with a sweeter, crunchy crust) definitely win this one.

Another great thing at BioLounge is their packaging: the salad and pie is packaged in thin cardboard fold-yourself-boxes with biodegradable plastic. If necessary, you can get a brown paper bag to transport your goodies home (or more likely, to your office) and some wooden cutlery. That’s laudable, only too bad the city of Brussels doesn’t do green waste (except for garden waste during the summer). So it always hurts a little to throw away the cardboard box with the rest of the trash. Something for Brussels policymakers?

The BioLounge: really tasty salads, sandwiches , wraps and bio drinks for very good prices (cheaper than Exki)! It can be found at Onderrichtstraat 116 and is near Vrijheidsplein, Koningstraat, Congreskolom, Noordstraat, Madou… Check it out, if you like, and let me know what you think.