Vibrant. Succulent. Deeply infused with the taste and flavour of Morocco. Slow oven baked salmon. Crusted with a preserved lemon chermoula and soft herbs. A little bit of luxury on a 5-2 fast day. Another recipe that effortlessly ticks all the boxes. Low in fat and calories. High in taste. Vibrant. Filling. Satisfying.
Meals like this make fast days easy. Preparation is minimal. Whiz up a chermoula paste in the food processor. Smear on the salmon. Finish with a layer of fresh herbs. Bake in a very slow oven for 45 minutes. I like to make a bigger batch of chermoula paste than I need and always make sure I freeze at least one portion in readiness for another meal. For those days I don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen. It works wonderfully well as a marinade. Think chicken, lamb and all manner of seafood.
Today I’ve paired it with my salmon. Slow baking almost always guarantees a moist and luscious result. Even when left in the oven a tad too long. A most forgiving recipe. The fish retains its moisture and vibrant colour when cooked. The end result is soft, succulent and meltingly delicious.
One serving of salmon prepared this way accounts for just 314 calories. Almost a complete meal in itself. It really doesn’t need any thing else on the plate. Feeling peckish? Add a serve of steamed baby green beans and a baby potato for an extra 70 calories. An entire plate of food for under 400 calories. Leaving ample leeway for a snack throughout the day. Keeping well hydrated kept my hunger pangs at bay as I anticipated my evening meal. Supplemented by just two mandarins from the fruit bowl at midday.
Slow Baked Salmon with Preserved Lemon Chermoula and Soft Herbs.
Serves 4 (314 calories per serve)
Serve with steamed baby potatoes and green beans. Add 53 calories for each steamed baby potato and 17 calories for each 1/2 cup steamed green beans.
600g (150g per person) wild salmon fillet, centre cut, pin-boned, skin on (1080 calories)
4 tablespoons chermoula paste with preserved lemon( 170 calories)
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped (2 calories)
1 tablespoon coriander, chopped (1 calorie)
1 tablespoon mint, chopped (1 calorie)
REMOVE the salmon from the refrigerator half an hour before baking to bring to room temperature.
POSITION the oven racks to the centre and bottom positions. Place a pan half full of water in the oven on the lower oven rack. Preheat oven to 125 C.
LINE an oven proof dish with baking paper. Place the salmon fillet skin side down in the dish.
COAT the salmon with the chermoula paste. Gently press the chopped herbs on top to form an even layer.
PLACE the salmon in the oven, centre rack position. Bake for 45 minutes until the salmon flakes. A thicker fillet may need a little longer in the oven. To test if the salmon is cooked insert the tip of a sharp knife into the thickest part of the salmon and gently pry it open. If the salmon separates into flakes, it’s done. If not, return it to the oven for another five minutes. The salmon will retain its deep colour because it retains all its moisture. If using individual portions of salmon bake for an initial 20 minutes, then test to see if it flakes easily.
REMOVE salmon from oven and slice into four equal sized portions. Serve with steamed baby potatoes and green beans.
Chermoula Paste With Preserved Lemon (Fast Day Version)
Makes 1 cup /16 tablespoons per cup.
680 calories per cup / 42.5 calories per tablespoon
1/2 cup coriander leaves and tender stems only, well washed (4 calories)
1/4 cup mint leaves, well washed (3 calories)
1/2 cup flat leaf Italian parsley leaves and tender stems only, well washed (11 calories)
4 long green spring onions,chopped (40 calories)
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (16 calories)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (4 calories)
1 long red chilli, roughly chopped (18 calories)
1 tablespoon sweet paprika (18 calories)
1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric (12 calories)
2 teaspoons sea salt flakes (0 calories)
1/2 teaspoon white pepper (4 calories)
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly roasted (4 calories)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly roasted (4 calories)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (480 calories)
1/2 preserved lemon, roughly chopped (50 calories)
juice of 1 lemon, freshly squeezed (12 calories)
COMBINE all ingredients in a food processor, spice grinder, or mortar and pestle. Process or pound to a rough paste.
IF making the chermoula ahead of time, transfer it to an airtight container. Refrigerate. Also suitable to freeze for another meal.