It’s one thing to ask a friend for a recipe, it’s another thing to pilfer their signature dish. For the past few years, my friend Diana has dazzled dinner guests with her take on Suzanne Goin’s Slow-Roasted Salmon with Cucumber Yogurt; a recipe that you won’t find in any of Goin’s cookbooks but, rather weirdly, on the Hollywood Bowl website. It’s such a winning dinner party dish because you get to serve fish to any number of people without having to stress; the slow-cooking in the oven guarantees a moist interior and also ensures that all of the fillets will be done at the same time. Top it with a yogurt sauce amped up with toasted cumin seeds and preserved lemons (more on those in a moment) and you’ve got a dish so good, it’s worth stealing from a friend (sorry Diana).
So about those preserved lemons. Some people are resourceful enough to preserve lots of them ahead so they’re ready to go when you need them. I’m not one of those people. That’s why Mark Bittman’s recipe for Quick Preserved Lemons is so handy; you just cut up a bunch of lemons into a relatively even dice, put them in a jar with some salt and sugar, shake it up, and a few hours later you’ve got what you need. Here’s photographic evidence:
It’s really that simple; and the longer the lemons sit, the funkier they taste–funkier in a good way. Make a lot and you’ll have them for the whole week (throw into a tagine or a couscous or whatever).
As for the rest of the dish, you won’t believe how simple it is: slice up some Persian cucumbers and mix them with whole milk yogurt, toasted cumin seeds, shallots, garlic, the preserved lemons, preserved lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and mint. There’s your yogurt sauce.
Now for the salmon; watch how simple. Preheat your oven to 250. Make an herb paste by combining lemon zest, shallots, tarragon, dill, and parsley with some olive oil (note: the full recipe is here). Put your salmon filets on a rack on a foil lined sheet, salt and pepper them, and then smear with the herb mixture.
Roast for 30 minutes until it starts to flake apart (cut into one fillet to make sure it’s no longer translucent in the middle; that’s your piece). Here’s the finished salmon:
To plate, spoon some cooked rice on to a plate (I used my rice cooker), top with some arugula or watercress (I used arugula), then the salmon, then lots of the yogurt sauce.
Seriously, it’s a dish worth memorizing because you’ll want to make it again and again. It’s actually my signature dish, I’ve been making it for years. Diana who?