Monday, 7 July 2008

Paper Chef #31

Move over Iron Chef, it is time for the Paper Chef. The monthly ingredient-driven challenge hosted by Ilva of Lucullian Delights.

This month's Paper Chef ingredients are fresh oregano, walnuts, chickpeas or chickpea flour and fish steak. The challenge will be judged by the winner of last month's challenge, Hank from Hunter Gardener Angler Cook.

I have chosen to present these ingredients in a Moroccan style, also taking full advantage of BBQ season.

I chose my fish steak by a very scientific method called whatisonsale? As I live nowhere near an ocean, good fresh fish is very dear. My local grocers sell it by 100grams to try to fool you into thinking you won't need a second mortgage. I did manage to spy an in-store special for salmon steaks and the decision was made. Oregano, on the other hand, was not a problem as I have a patch of it in the backyard that is threatening to take over the world. Who knew it could get so tall?

My submission for the Paper Chef is Grilled Salmon Steaks and Vegetables in an Oregano Chermoula with Walnut Couscous. I have harissa on the side as a condiment.

Grilled Salmon Steaks and Vegetables in Oregano Chermouloa - serves 4

4 salmon steaks
2 carrots, halved lengthwise and then width ways
1 sweet potato, sliced ¼ inch thick, width ways
1 zucchini, sliced ½ inch thick, lengthwise

Oregano Chermoula
¾ tsp kosher or sea salt
3 cloves garlic
1 pinch saffron
¾ tsp cumin seeds
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 dried chilli peppers
1 cup fresh oregano leaves
1 shallot, chopped
½ tsp coriander seeds
Few grinds fresh black pepper
¼ cup walnut oil

Puree all chermoula ingredients in blender.

Toss vegetables in ½ of the chermoula, brush remaining half on both sides of the salmon steaks. Marinate 2 hours. (refrigerate salmon steaks until ½ hour before grilling)
Grill vegetables on medium until tender, move to cool side of BBQ when getting dark.
Sear salmon steaks on med/high then turn heat down and cook until just cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.
Serve on Moroccan Couscous

Moroccan Couscous with Walnuts and Harissa -serves 4

2 tbsp butter
1 cup whole wheat couscous
1 ¼ cup chicken stock
1 can chickpeas - 19 fl oz, rinsed and drained
½ cup fresh oregano leaves
½ cup toasted walnut halves
½ cup golden raisins

Spice blend
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp turmeric
Small pinch Spanish saffron threads
½ tsp kosher or sea salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
Few grinds fresh black pepper

In medium pot with lid, heat butter on medium. Add spices and stir until combined with butter and fragrant. Add couscous and stir constantly 1 minute. Add stock, chickpeas, oregano, walnuts and raisins. Stir and place lid on pot. Reduce to low and cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff with fork and let sit 5 minutes more - off the heat. Serve.

Harissa - a spicy pepper condiment
8 dried chillies, soaked in hot water for 40 minutes.
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
¼ cup walnut oil
½ tsp kosher or sea salt

Blend together in mini food processor, serve as a condiment to Moroccan food.
You will be happy to know that my saffron contains no alcoholic or animal matter!