Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Salmon Cooked with Onions & Tomatoes in a Mustard Gravy

Salmon Maacher Jhaal
Daddy loved fishing, although he didn't get much time for his hobby. He worked as a family physician at his clinic from Monday through Saturday and half-day on Sunday. I remember the time when, from one of his fishing expeditions, he brought home a sea turtle and laid it on the kitchen floor. We were fascinated by this sea creature, but strangely enough, I can't remember what happened to it. We didn't have it for dinner, I don't think.

When I was living in California, my aunt and I met a family from Burma and Mr. Fenton also loved to fish. His favorite fishing spot was Puddingstone Reservoir and he would return home with loads of blue gill which he would drop off at my place to clean. Blue gill tastes a lot like climbing perch (Bengalis call it koi maach). The taste of fresh caught fish just can't be beat.

Here in Michigan, Hubby has re-connected with a friend from work who has been fishing since he was a young boy. He goes fishing in the St. Clair river and showed me a picture of the salmon he caught a couple of days before. His question was whether we'd like some fresh salmon or smoked, so I asked for a little of both. The smoked salmon was outstanding and I marvelled at how well he had cleaned the fish. There was not a scale in sight and believe me, they were miniscule.

So the fresh piece of salmon brings me right back to this blog. I cut the fillet into cubes and cooked it the way Bengalis love their fish - in mustard gravy. Salmon reminds me of Ilish (or Hilsa) and they both have similar spawning habits. Both species of fish live in the sea or ocean, but make their way back to the river in which they were born and swim against the current to spawn. Just like Ilish, Salmon is an oily fish and is full of flavor.

1 lb. salmon, cut in steaks or cubed
1 large onion, sliced
1 large tomato, diced
3 heaped Tbsp. Coleman's mustard powder, diluted in water for 1/2 hour
1 serrano pepper, diced and crushed in a mortar and pestle
4 Tbsp. mustard or vegetable oil
1/4 tsp. nigella/kalonji seeds
1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
salt to taste
1 serrano pepper, sliced, for garnish
cilantro, minced, for garnish

  1. Marinate salmon with turmeric and salt for 20 minutes.
  2. Heat oil over medium-high heat, lightly fry salmon on all sides and set aside.
  3. In the same oil, sputter nigella seeds and chili paste.
  4. Add onions and stir-fry until translucent.
  5. Add tomatoes and salt to taste, cover and simmer until oil resurfaces.
  6. Add a cup of boiling water to the tomatoes and return salmon to skillet.
  7. Pour diluted mustard around the edges and spoon over salmon.
  8. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
  9. Transfer salmon pieces to a serving platter, placing them around the perimeter of the dish.
  10. Pour the mustard gravy along with the onions and tomatoes in the center and swirl around the edges.
  11. Garnish with slices of serrano and sprinkle cilantro on top.
Serve on a bed of hot Basmati rice.

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