Salmon with a Saffron Couscous Crust and Tomato and Olive Vinaigrette

This is unusual but works like a dream and is very simple to prepare. The couscous crust encases the salmon and keeps all the fragrant juices inside intact. Served with perhaps some fresh shelled peas, it makes a perfect main course for summer entertaining.

Serves 4

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Summer Collection and The Delia Collection: Fish

Salmon with a Saffron Couscous Crust and Tomato and Olive Vinaigrette
 4 x 5 oz (150 g) boned and skinned fillets of salmon
 2-3 good pinches saffron stamens
 5 oz (150 g) medium couscous
 7 fl oz (200 ml) dry white wine
 1 large egg, beaten
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the tomato and olive vinaigrette:
 8 oz (225 g) tomatoes, skinned, de-seeded and chopped small
 3 oz (75 g) pitted black olives, chopped to the same size as the tomatoes
 1 fat clove garlic
 1 level teaspoon grain mustard
 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
 1 tablespoon lemon juice
 4 fl oz (110 ml) olive oil
 1 level tablespoon chopped fresh chervil or flat-leaf parsley
 sea salt and freshly milled black pepper
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5, 375°F (190°C).
You will also need a baking sheet, lightly greased.


First of all prepare the couscous – which is dead simple. All you do is place it in a bowl, then heat up the wine till just at simmering point, whisk the saffron into it along with some salt and pepper, and pour the whole lot over the couscous grains.

Then leave the couscous on one side until it has absorbed all the liquid.

After this fluff it by making cutting movements across and through it with a knife. Now take each salmon fillet, season with salt and pepper, and dip it first into beaten egg, then sit it on top of the couscous and, using your hands, coat it on all sides, pressing the couscous evenly all round (it works in just the same way as breadcrumbs).

Now place the coated fillets on the baking sheet and if you want, cover with clingfilm and keep refrigerated until they're needed.

To make the vinaigrette, crush the garlic with 1 level teaspoon of sea salt, using a pestle and mortar, then add the mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil and a good seasoning of black pepper, and whisk thoroughly.

About half an hour before serving add the tomatoes, olives and chopped chervil or flat-leaf parsley.

When you are ready to cook the salmon fillets, pop them into the pre-heated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or a little longer if the fish is very thick. 

Serve each one in a pool of Tomato and Olive Vinaigrette, and hand the rest of the vinaigrette separately.

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