Saturday 18 November 2017

Susan Jane Murray: The wild thing

This fish is supersonic, says Susan Jane Murray, but beware, not all salmon products are created equally

Wild salmon is the Denis Hickie of the ocean: indecently tasty and hard to catch. Not bad for the heart and circulation either.

This supersonic fish is hailed for its cargo of omega-3, vitamin D and niacin. Prozac poppers will be happy to hear that these nutrients are the ones dubbed as natural anti-depressants, making wild salmon an invaluable food for healthy heads and happy hormones.

But before I get too misty-eyed about the benefits of eating salmon, I should stress that not all salmon products are created equally. Smoked, tinned, farmed or wild -- each has a different nutritional purchase. Here's the elevator talk. While smoked might be the tastiest and the most popular, its tinned counterpart offers a lot more calcium without the smoky nitrates. Nitrates are under the watchful eye of food scientists and medical communities, given their possible correlation to an increased risk of certain cancers. Put down the iPhone. Nothing to tweet about. Just something to be aware of should you be gobbling industrial quantities of the smoked stuff.

Then there's the ubiquitous farmed or caged salmon, most of which are fed with dodgy colourings and antibiotics. Farmers in the US choose how pink or red they want their salmon from a colour wheel called the SalmoFan. I'm not making this up. Nostril-flaring stuff. However, unlike its wilder cousin, farmed salmon is a fraction of the price and available fresh all year round. Two important factors for prudent parents.

So what does the savvy shopper do? Look out for organically farmed Irish salmon or RSPCA endorsements. Eat more tinned Pacific salmon. And drop into your nearest Lidl to stock up on frozen, wild-salmon cutlets. Says I.

Mum's Potato Cakes

Irish spuds are magical. So is my mum. She makes the most divine potato cakes from leftover Sunday mash. Every Monday, I'd leave college early knowing there was a plate of potato cakes to pillage before the others got home. And behind the desolate, smelly cheeses in the fridge lay a secret stockpile of Ballymaloe Country Relish. I could almost feel my tongue high-five and back flip.

According to Mother Murray, their success is down to the quality of potato used and not to her culinary genius, as we had so ignorantly assumed. With a deferential tone, chef divulges that potatoes grown outside of Ireland are just "imitations".

I've doctored her recipe to help you include more salmon in your daily diet. These are better and cheaper than any fancy fishcake we've sunk our teeth into at restaurants.

Go for traditional creme fraiche if you prefer, but the curried yogurt brings it to another cosmology. Without it, you'd only hit the clouds.

You will need:

Blob of extra virgin coconut oil or butter

4 cups lightly mashed potato

1 egg, beaten

1 garlic clove, minced

3 tablespoons flour

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 fillet cooked salmon, deboned & flaked

2 spring onions, chopped

Handful coriander, chopped (optional)

Small tub natural yogurt

1 tablespoon curry powder

Heat your frying pan with the extra virgin coconut oil or butter, whichever you are using. Crush and squish together the lightly mashed potato, the beaten egg, the minced garlic, the flour, the salt and freshly ground black pepper, the flakes of cooked salmon, the chopped spring onions and the coriander, if you are using it. When your pan is sufficiently hot, drop a large spoonful of mixture on to the pan, flatten with the back of a fish-slice and turn down the heat a little to prevent burning. Cook both sides until they are lightly coloured or the fish is cooked through.

Meanwhile, mix together the natural yogurt and a dusting of curry powder. Serve the potato cakes warm with a saucy dollop of spicy yogurt. Or allow to cool if you're packing for a sneaky breakfast on the Luas.



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