Wild Salmon and Braised Lentils

photo_9Pairing braised lentils with salmon is one of my favorite dishes both at home and when eating out.  It’s satisfying and delicious and I always feel good after eating it.  I add my own twist with Persian spices for an exotic and comforting flavor.

Lentils are super easy to cook and make for a hearty main course or side dish.  Growing up, my mother would make vegetarian lentil soup “Aash eh Adas” on cold and dreary days.  I have fond memories of my father dressing his soup by topping it with chopped raw onions and toasted croutons, eating from one side so that the soup was visually appealing even through his last bite.  I always loved a dollop of yogurt on top as well.

Another Persian dish with lentils is called “Adas Polo”, meaning Lentil Rice.  In this dish, lentils are cooked with the rice and often topped with caramelized dates, raisins, and ground beef.

In my recipe, I wanted to keep the flavors from my childhood yet keep the integrity of the lentils on their own.  I decided to use a technique that I’ve grown fond of recently, which is to brown a puree of onions, carrots, and celery instead of keeping them whole.  This, along with chicken broth and a dash of cumin is what I cooked my lentils with.

For the salmon, I pan fried the pieces skin side down on medium heat and seasoned with salt, pepper, and bloomed saffron.  It’s key to bloom the saffron in a little bit of boiling water to maximize it’s aroma and color.  I covered the salmon for most of the cooking time to allow steam to gently cook the fish.

Once they were done cooking, I gently removed the skin off of the fish and sauteed it in the same pan.  This allowed the skin to become like crackling, and not have the slimey interior texture that some people are turned off by.

I used the pieces of crackling and chopped scallions as garnish and an additional layer of texture for this comforting and heart healthy meal.

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