Wednesday 21 August 2019

Super mood food: Tanita de Ruijt showcases delicious ways to enhance your wellbeing using herbs and spices


Ginger and black pepper salmon
Ginger and black pepper salmon
Salsa verde
Super Roots

Tanita de Ruijt showcases delicious ways to enhance your wellbeing using herbs, roots and spices.

Ginger and black pepper salmon

This dish shares similarities with Singapore black pepper crab. Black pepper and ginger are considered very important healing spices in Ayurveda. Together, they're known as trikatu; a blend of spices that work in synergy to stimulate the digestive fire. I serve this with steamed rice. 

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Serves 2


A glug of olive oil

2 skinless salmon fillets, cut into bite-sized squares

70g (2½ oz) unsalted butter

125g (4 oz) small shallots (about 5), thinly sliced

2 large red chillies, thinly sliced

5 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1½ tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger root

1½ tbsp kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)

3 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp unrefined cane sugar

1½-2 tbsp coarsely ground black peppercorns

6 spring onions (scallions), trimmed and cut into 3 cm- (1¼ in-) long pieces, plus shredded to serve

Cooked rice, to serve

Ginger and black pepper salmon


1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan (skillet) over a medium-high heat, add the salmon and fry (in batches if necessary - don't overcrowd the pan), turning the pieces until they are golden all over, then transfer to a plate to rest.

2. Wipe the pan to remove any traces of salmon or oil and throw in the butter. Once it has melted, add the shallots, chillies, garlic and ginger. Fry over a low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, for up to 15 minutes, making sure they don't colour, until everything looks shiny and is completely soft.

3. Add the kecap manis, soy sauce and sugar to the pan of softened shallots, stir, then add the crushed pepper. Add the salmon to the pan to warm it through for about a minute, then stir in the spring onions. Serve immediately with cooked rice and shredded spring onions.


Tom Yum fried rice

Spicy, savoury and a little sour, this tangy fried rice is packed with the energising and invigorating flavours of Thai Tom Yum. I like to use nutty red rice for this recipe, but any leftover rice will work just fine.

Serves 2

*To make this vegetarian, omit the fish sauce, adding extra salt if needed


1 tbsp coconut oil

1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, thinly sliced

2 cm (¾ in) piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and grated

1 shallot, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 small red Thai chillies, thinly sliced

100g (3½ oz) pineapple, finely chopped

300g (10½ oz) cooked rice of your choice or 180 g (6 oz) uncooked rice

1 tbsp fish sauce

2 tbsp kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)

100g (3½ oz/⅔ cup) roasted cashews

1 kaffir lime leaf, thinly sliced (optional)

1 lime, halved


1. Heat a wok or large frying pan (skillet) over a high heat, add the coconut oil, then add the lemongrass, ginger, shallot, garlic and chillies. Sauté for about 6 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent the ingredients from colouring.

2. Add the pineapple and the cooked rice to the sizzling wok and mix everything together. Reduce the heat to medium, add the fish sauce, kecap manis, cashews and kaffir lime leaf (if liked). Stir and fry for 2-3 minutes until the rice is hot and steamy.

3. Turn off the heat and finish with a squeeze of lime juice.


Spiced salsa verde

Salsa verde

Zhoug is Yemen's answer to salsa verde, or pesto. This sauce is fresh, fiery, exciting and packed with pungent and soothing herbs and spices. Yemenites swear by its health benefits and eat it daily to deliciously enhance their wellbeing.

Makes about 140 g (5 oz)

*To make this vegetarian or vegan, omit the anchovies, adding extra salt if needed


Seeds from 2 green cardamom pods

1 tsp black peppercorns

1 tsp coriander seeds

½ tsp cumin seeds

4 green jalapeño chillies

2 garlic cloves

4 anchovy fillets (tinned in oil), (optional)

Large pinch of sea salt

Generous handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped

Generous handful of coriander (cilantro) leaves, finely chopped

100 ml (3½ fl oz/scant ½ cup) olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon


1. Toast the cardamom seeds, peppercorns, coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a small dry frying pan (skillet) over a medium-high heat for a few minutes until fragrant. Tip them into a mortar then grind to a fine powder with a pestle and leave to cool.

2. Add the chillies, garlic and anchovy fillets (if using) to the mortar, sprinkle with a large pinch of salt and smash to make a paste.

3. Add the herbs and oil and work them into the mixture with the pestle. Leave the spiced salsa verde to sit and infuse for 10 minutes, then finish with the lemon juice. Use straight away.

Extracted from Super Roots by Tanita de Ruijt. Published by Hardie Grant, £16.99. Photography © Patricia Niven

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