If you've come over to my place for dinner in the past few months, it is likely that I've made this for you. It's been one of my favorite recipes for both small and large dinner parties, mainly because this is something you can make for eight people as easily as you can for one. But also because it has a fancy feel to it with out of control flavors. Actually, I will let you in on a little secret. What I really do is make this for myself, and make a double batch of the caraway paste (which is the base of the sauce) while in my comfy pants binge watching netflix. Then, when I make this for a dinner party, it's that much easier to throw it all together.
I stumbled on this recipe several months ago when I had an unusual craving for salmon + spicy tomato sauce ..... so, of course, I did what you do when a specific craving comes on ...... I googled salmon and spicy tomato sauce. I came across a recipe on bon appétite that was exactly what I was looking for. After carefully reading through the instructions, I noticed that it was an Ottolenghi recipe. Of course it is. That is why it looked so flavorful and so delicious. I have so many internet recipes bookmarked, some I come back to more than once, but there are very few that I revisit over and over. This is one of those recipes.
The thing that is great about this dish, is that this spicy tomato sauce can be paired with ANYthing. If you don't like salmon, or it's not in season, you can use a white fish. If you are a vegetarian, you can make this with cauliflower or broccoli. I cannot think of a fish/veg/meat that this would not go well with. You can make the caraway/garlic flavor bomb paste in advance, or, do what I do and make a double batch each time you make this, store it in the fridge, and then you can quickly throw this together in under 30 minutes. One more bonus is that this uses tomato paste, and only tomato paste to make the tomato sauce. I was kind of skeptical, since I do not really understand or love tomato paste. Mostly because when a recipe calls for a tablespoon of it, I put the rest in the fridge and find it months later, way in the back, moldy, and into the trash it goes. I bet that you've throw out a jar or two of half-used tomato paste too. This is a recipe that you can make to use up that half-filled jar of tomato paste, or if you're opening a new jar to make this, I bet it won't be long before you make this again and use up the rest.
salmon + spicy caraway tomato sauce
This recipe is adapted from THIS recipe on Bon Appétit by Ottolenghi. If you do not like salmon, or it is not available, you can use a white fish. A thicker version would be best, such as halibut. If you are a vegetarian, you can switch out the fish for cauliflower or broccoli. The method for cooking the vegetable would be pretty much the same as described here for the fish. Lastly, you can make the caraway/garlic paste in advance, and store it in the fridge until you're ready to use.
for the caraway / garlic paste:
1 tablespoon of caraway seeds
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons of paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
about 4 tablespoons of sunflower oil
2-4 8oz pieces of wild salmon
sea salt + pepper
about 3 tablespoons of sunflower (high-heat, neutral) oil
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1/2 cup of filtered water
a pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of sugar
optional toppings: a couple of minced scallions, a handful of chopped cilantro, a handful of microgreens
NOTES on serving: I always serve this with quinoa or rice on the side, since it asborbs the sauce nicely.
First, make the caraway / garlic paste:
- Toast the caraway seeds for a couple of minutes on low heat in a dry frying pan. Grind the seeds using a mortal and pestle or a spice grinder, until FINELY ground (if using a mortal and pestle, this takes a bit of elbow grease).
- Add the ground caraway to a food processor, along with the garlic, paprika, cumin, cayenne, and cinnamon, and pulse a few times until combined. Add in the sunflower oil and run continuously until a thick paste has formed. Set aside until you're ready to use. You can make this paste ahead of time and keep it in the fridge in an air-tight container for at least a week (maybe two).
Sear the salmon:
- Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a large cast iron over medium high heat (the pan should be hot enough so that the salmon sizzles when it hits the pan). Add the salmon, skin side up, and cook for two minutes, flip, and then cook for about three minutes. Transfer the salmon to a plate while you cook the tomato sauce.
Make the sauce, and finish cooking the salmon:
- Using the same pan and oil you just cooked the salmon in, add another tablespoon of the oil and lower the heat to medium low. Add the caraway garlic paste and cook for about two minutes, while stirring, until fragrant.
- Add the tomato paste and water and stir until everything is combined. Add the salt, lemon juice, and sugar, and stir again. Lastly, add the salmon back to the pan. Cover, and cook for 4 minutes (for medium rare) or 8 minutes (for medium well). Serve immediately with any of the suggested toppings.