Wasabi reminds me of the so familiar freshly ground mustard paste.
Mustard was ground in a aromatic paste with fresh green chili peppers in the Sil Nora, the traditional stone slab that adorned almost every Indian kitchen in India. Some still use that beautiful piece of etched and pocked slab of stone to make fresh pastes in the kitchen, but it is soon becoming a lost art.
Why I always, and always start walking the streets of my childhood with everything I cook, I will never know. There is fierce need for me to hold on to the past, to the people and the environment whom I will never see again.
Silently I swim in memories, lavishly trying to recreate and also thread the “now” with “then”. I would probably never know this, what remained etched in my deep subconscious, if I had not started giving words to my thoughts. As I work in the kitchen, it almost feels like I am reading a book, trying to relate it to my life, only it is my own life – the incidents I have experienced and lived through.
The cuisine of Bengal is not worth talking about without the fish. Sweet water fish is part of every single meal, almost everyday. Well, maybe with the exception of the days when we had Robibar er Murgir Jhol or the Mansgho r Jhol.
Freshly made mustard paste is one of the main ingredients to make a lip smacking fish curry in a traditional Bengali way.
Kashundi or seasoned the mustard paste is also served as a condiment in Bengal. It is quite similar to the strong horseradish or the wasabi paste. In the absence on our favorite Kashundi here, we have taken to the wasabi quite well.
So when we started falling in love with wasabi, the same (or may be more) sinus opening flavor which I so love, I could not resist trying out with salmon.
This is far away from a Bengali recipe, and yet so close – in flavors and the entire eating experience.
The incessant call of the mockingbird tells me that the spring cannot be far away…
In the ceaseless process of trying to tie back my past with the present, new recipes are born – like this one today.
Complete and gratifying with vibrant flavors, very much like the first signs of spring.
Wasabi marinated Salmon with Cucumber Salad
Ingredients: (serves 1)
- 1 salmon fillet (I used wild caught Alaskan Salmon)
- 1/2 teaspoon oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon ginger juice
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame seed, lightly toasted
- 1/2- 1 tablespoon wasabi paste (adjust to taste and tolerance)
- 1.5 teaspoon julienned ginger + 1/2 teaspoon oil
- hot green (or red chili pepper), – like Thai bird, very thinly sliced
- any fresh herb you want to use to garnishFor the Sesame & Cucumber Salad:
- 1/4 of an English cucumb or 1 small Persian cucumber, sliced in ribbons or chunks – whatever way you want
- red onions, thinly sliced
- 1 – 1.5 tablespoon vinegar/wine vinegar (or as much as you would need)
- salt to taste
- a pinch of sugar
- a few drops of toasted sesame oil may be used for flavor
- toasted sesame seeds may be added to the salad for crunch (optional)
Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil and add the julienned ginger to it. Allow it to crisp it lightly at medium heat. Let cool and crush/or muddle the fried ginger.
Lightly crush the toasted sesame seeds.
For marinade, whisk 1/2 teaspoon oil, lemon juice, ginger juice, ginger, sesame seed and wasabi paste (I used a horseradish paste with grated wasbabi) and salt.
Rub both sides of the salmon with a marinade and allow it to sit for about 10 minutes.
Place fish steak on a parchment or foil along with the marinate, top with sliced peppers and broil the fish for 5-6 minutes on each sides (cooking time will depend on the size of the fish steak and also on how well done you want it to be).
The fish can be cooked directly over the grill or on a pan (lightly smeared with oil) over the stove top. If cooking in the pan over the stove top, heat the pan with oil and place the fish. Partially cover it for the first couple of minutes at low to medium heat. Uncover and cook each side until it starts to brown a bit.
Remove after done cooking and serve with the salad on the side.
To make the salad:
Whisk vinegar, salt, sugar and toasted sesame oil (if you want). Toss with the sliced cucumber and onion. Allow it to rest for about 15 minutes. Chill if you wish. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds before serving and toss (if you are using sesame seeds). Serve with cooked fish.
The salmon may be shredded/chopped and used in a salad.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: less than 15 minutes
Difficulty Level: Very Easy
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