I was known as ‘the child who ate anything’. Curry, cabbage, lentils. But honestly the truth is, I was a pro at fibbing; wanting to please everyone I hid my dislike of pickles, corn, eggs and marshmallows like my life depended on it. A little sprig of curly-leaf parsley perched on top of a dish always sent shivers down my spine. It conjured up thoughts of eating fluffy grass. Strangely, I’d happily devour long thin blades of actual grass, but parsley was the frilly monster, set to get stuck in my teeth and cause all range of riot in my mouth.
Parsley and I finally got acquainted, I don’t know what quite helped me turn the corner but it might have had something to do with meeting his flat-leafed friend. Thankfully my childhood taste buds with a love of real grass didn’t fall off the face of the earth when the rest of my palate morphed into a parsley, pickle, corn, and egg loving adult. I still enjoy grass on a summer afternoon, swiping the odd blade, feeling a little like my childhood cat that lay in the sun nibbling grass from her paws. But I still pass on the marshmallows, every time. They involve too many flashbacks from childhood party games, mouths being progressively filled with sickly sweet miniature pink and white pillows while having to say idiotic sentences like, “I love marshmallows” – it couldn’t have been further from the truth!
Back to my new found friend Parsley – he plays the starring role in this adapted recipe from The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden. Claudia describes parsley as ‘the Basque herb’. The sauce, Salsa Verde, makes this dish. It’s a surprisingly soft blend of parsley, garlic, olive oil and the flavoursome juices released by the salmon as it cooks. Traditionally this recipe calls for hake, but being a lover of salmon and Spain being a lover all fish in the sea, salmon it was.
Salmon in Salsa Verde with Asparagus
1 bunch of asparagus
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tsp gluten free cornflour
2 Tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 salmon steaks, on the bone
Trim the asparagus of its woody ends, and place in a saucepan with just enough water to cover, adding a pinch of salt. Boil for a brief 3-4 minutes and remove, reserving the cooking water separately.
Warm the extra virgin olive oil in a large frypan over gentle heat with the garlic. Do not let the garlic brown. Once the garlic is aromatic add in the cornflour and stir for a minute. Toss in the parsley and slowly add 250ml of the reserved cooking water from the asparagus. Add a little bit a time, stirring well between each addition to incorporate the fluid into the sauce. Increase the heat under the pan to medium, add a little salt and simmer for about 8 minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened.
Place the salmon steaks into the pan with the sauce. Gently swirl the pan to move the fish through the sauce, this will help the fish juices released during cooking to mix into the salsa verde, creating a slightly jelly like texture.
After 5 minutes turn the salmon over, and return the asparagus to the pan. The second side will take approximately 3 minutes to cook. Serve with freshly boiled baby potatoes and generous spoonful’s of sauce ladled over the fish.