Crisp salmon with mint and pickled watermelon rind salad

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 4 people

  • 4 salmon fillets (about 100gm each)
  • 250 ml (1 cup) light soy sauce
  • For deep-frying: vegetable oil
  • 300 gm watermelon, cut into wedges
  • 1 cup (firmly packed) each mint leaves and coriander leaves
  • 50 gm (about ½ cup) beans sprouts
  • 10 gm (2cm piece) ginger, cut into julienne
  • 4 red shallots, thinly sliced on a mandolin
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
  • 2 Lebanese cucumbers, thinly sliced lengthways on a mandolin
  • 2 long red chillies, thinly sliced
  •  
  • Pickled watermelon rind
  • 125 ml (½ cup) coconut vinegar (see note)
  • 80 gm white sugar
  • 2 cinnamon quills
  • 60 gm watermelon rind, thinly shaved on a mandolin
  •  
  • Green chilli nahm prik
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 red shallot, coarsely chopped
  • 1 long green chilli, coarsely chopped
  • 40 gm light palm sugar, or to taste, crushed
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) fish sauce, or to taste
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) lime juice, or to taste
01   Place salmon in a non-reactive container large enough to fit fish snugly. Pour over soy, season to taste with freshly ground white pepper and refrigerate to marinate (1 hour).
02   Meanwhile, for pickled watermelon rind, bring vinegar, sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt to the boil in a saucepan over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until liquid reduces slightly (5-7 minutes). Add watermelon rind and simmer until rind softens (5-7 minutes), then set aside to cool in liquid. Watermelon rind will will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for 2 weeks.
03   Meanwhile, for green chilli nahm prik, preheat oven to 200C. Roast garlic, shallot and chilli on an oven tray lined with baking paper until golden (5-7 minutes). Cool slightly, then pound in a mortar and pestle to a smooth paste. Add palm sugar, pound to break up sugar, then add fish sauce and lime juice, stir to combine (adjust seasoning to taste; dressing should be sweet, salty, hot and sour) and set aside.
04   Preheat vegetable oil in a deep-fryer or deep saucepan to 180C. Pat salmon dry with absorbent paper, then deep-fry, turning occasionally, until golden and crisp (2-3 minutes; be careful as hot oil will spit), remove with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper, then coarsely flake.
05   Drain watermelon rind (discard liquid) and combine with remaining ingredients and salmon in a bowl, drizzle over green chilli nahm prik, toss to combine and serve.
Note Coconut vinegar is available from Asian grocers.

This recipe is from the February 2011 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.
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