Nor does it need to be reserved for high days and holidays; you can easily pair salmon like this with a whole multitude of midweek mundanity and transform simple meals into something altogether more exotic.
The purpose of the marinade here is not to preserve, like it would be for gravadlax for example, at the end of the marinade time we still need to cook the fish, but that’s why we’re all here, that moment when the fish hits the pan and the sugars start to caramelise, the dark salty soy turning the fish almost black, the aromatics evaporating on impact causing anyone within a 20 foot radius to spontaneously convulse and salivate, like George Clooney/Catherine Bach Zeta-Jones just walked in to the room.
I should also say (how shall I put it) I think it would be…a shame, to do this recipe if you have no intention of eating the skin. I’m just saying.
This has cropped up on the menu on and off over the years, sometimes appearing as tea ‘blackened’ salmon but most successfully being paired with the orange pickled fennel I posted last September; its current incarnation however is not with salmon, but with pigeon no less… I know, get me, Little Miss Fancypants.
(makes enough marinade for up to 4 portions of salmon)
4 x salmon fillets 150g – 200g
2 x Earl Grey tea bags
2 x tablespoons of runny honey
4 x tablespoon of dark soy sauce
1 x fat bulb of garlic, crushed
50g of grated root ginger (that’s about 2 ‘thumbs’ worth)
6 x Kaffir lime leaves (you can get by without)
Make the tea with 300ml of boiling water in a bowl or a jug.
Whilst it’s still hot (so the fresh ingredients steep and the others dissolve), add all the other ingredients.
Pour the contents of the jug into a suitable container, that is, one that is just big enough to accommodate the fish and submerge it as much as possible in the marinade.
Add the fish to the marinade only when it is stone cold* and leave it for at least 24 hours in the fridge, but preferably 48.
Remove the salmon from the marinade and dry thoroughly on paper towel, before seasoning. Pan fry the fish skin side down to begin with in a little olive oil, over a medium heat. The salmon will benefit from being turned on it sides as well to take on all-over colour.
The natural pairings for this would be Asian or Oriental on account of the soy, tea and ginger. Noodles or rice would work well obviously, as would stir-fried veg with a few sesame seeds, aubergine, Asian style 'slaws' or salads with beanshoots and coriander…that sort of thing.
* Why? It’s simply a case of food safety – warming the fish up to bacteria-friendly temperatures ideal for breeding, and then letting it sit for 2 days is potentially hazardous and/or stupid.