Quick and easy grilled or fried salmon with a Mediterranean-Asian fusion spicy sauce bursting with flavour!
A few months ago, during my visit to Trieste, a lovely coastal Italian town, I had the pleasure of tasting a really interesting fish dish. It featured succulent roasted peppers and capers in a plain zesty sauce, with sun-dried tomato added as a decoration. This experience would spark a culinary idea. To integrate the sun-dried tomatoes into the sauce itself, with a few other extra ingredients!
Inspired by the flavours of that unforgettable meal, I decided to create a sauce that would go along with grilled salmon. While I enjoy eating salmon regularly, i often run out of ideas for what to serve with it. As someone who enjoys bold and aromatic spices in cooking, I often use chili and ginger in my recipes. So, I added these for a rich, flavourful sauce with a touch of Asian influence, hence Med-Asian spicy Sauce, perfect with salmon or any oily fish!
- salmon – Choose wild salmon, steaks or fillets, depending on your preference. Whether you’re cooking for a large group and grilling a whole fish, this recipe adapts well. You can easily adjust the sauce ingredients based on the quantity of fish you’re serving. Keep the skin on. It not only helps to lock in moisture but also imparts crispiness when seared, enhancing both the flavour and texture of the salmon.
- roasted peppers – You have the option to roast your own peppers or purchase jarred ones. When purchasing roasted peppers in a jar, make sure to check the label to ensure they are in oil, not in vinegar.
- capers – Any type of capers will do, whether they’re the small ones, or the larger ones, with or without added herbs. They’re all perfectly suitable for this dish.
- sun-dried tomatoes – When selecting sun-dried tomatoes, look for the deli or jarred versions, as they are suitable for this recipe. Avoid the dried ones, which are better suited for stews as they require longer cooking times. This sauce is either served raw or lightly fried, making the deli or jarred sun-dried tomatoes more appropriate.
- ginger – If you can find it at your local shop, opt for fresh ginger. Avoid using the powdered version
- chili – While chili is an optional flavour booster in this recipe, it adds a piquant note. If you prefer a milder level of heat, you can opt for mild chili varieties. Fresh chilies should be finely chopped and fried together with the onions, ensuring the seeds are removed for a milder kick. Alternatively, you have the choice to use chili flakes, powdered chili, or cayenne pepper to easily achieve the desired level of spiciness. I suggest avoiding smoked chili peppers as they may alter the overall flavour of the dish.
- lemon zest and juice – Select unwaxed lemons to avoid any potential bitterness or unwanted chemicals from the wax that can affect the taste of the sauce. The juice provides a sharp and refreshing acidity, while the zest, the outer peel of the lemon, contributes a concentrated lemony aroma and taste. Together, they enhance the overall taste of the sauce, balancing out the richness of the other ingredients and giving it a bright, lively flavor.
- salmon – While salmon is the primary choice for this delightful Med-Asian sauce, feel free to experiment with a range of oily fish varieties. Consider using mackerel, sardines, or tuna for a twist on the classic. Each fish variety will bring its unique qualities to the table, creating a fresh and exciting culinary journey with this fusion sauce.
- roasted peppers – Instead of roasting peppers you can prepare with fresh ones. Opt for a selection of colorful peppers for vibrant visual appeal of the sauce. If you choose to use fresh peppers, consider frying them together with onions at the start of the cooking process.
- capers – You can swap capers for olives, with green olives being the best choice. You’ll find them available in various options, including those stuffed with chili, garlic, or plain with herbs, allowing you to tailor the sauce to your personal taste preference.
- sun-dried tomato – As for the sun-dried tomatoes, you can use fresh tomatoes or canned chopped tomatoes as an alternative. If opting for fresh tomatoes, simply slice them and fry the slices in a bit of oil. For canned tomatoes, add a touch of oil to the pan and cook until most of the liquid evaporates, creating a tomato puree. These options provide versatility in adapting the sauce to your preferences. However, do keep in mind that while fresh or canned tomatoes can be wonderful substitutions, the unique intensity and richness of flavor that sun-dried tomatoes bring to the dish can’t be entirely replicated
Cooking & Tips
You can prepare salmon in your preferred way, be it pan-frying or baking / grilling with the skin side down. You can even steam it. When cooking salmon, you might notice a white protein substance oozing from the fish. This is perfectly normal and indicates that the salmon is nearing completion. In fact, you’ll often find that the salmon reaches perfection approximately one minute after you first observe this white protein. This is a helpful visual cue to ensure that your salmon is cooked just right, tender, and moist without overcooking.
Sauce: You have the option to make it a day or two in advance and store it in a jar for convenience. There are two ways to prepare the sauce. You can very finely chop all the ingredients and serve it fresh, perfect for those who appreciate the robust flavours of ginger, garlic, and onion. Alternatively, as my personal preference, you can start by lightly frying onion, garlic, ginger, and if using, chili peppers and fresh peppers and tomatoes. Just a couple of minutes is all it takes to mellow the intense flavours to your liking.
If you’re using fresh or tinned tomatoes instead of sun-dried, you can cook the fish in the sauce. This kind of sauce will be thicker and ideal for serving with rice or pasta.
Presentation & Serving
Serve hot, alongside a side dish or salad of your preference. Feel free to drizzle as much sauce as you desire. To complement the salmon and spicy sauce, I prepared this Croatian creamy leek and potato side dish, which paired beautifully.
If you prefer a milder version of the sauce and opt for sweet peppers without chili, you can cook the salmon in the sauce. This way, the salmon will soak up all the wonderful flavours! Enjoy your Salmon with spicy sauce!
Med-Asian Salmon with Spicy Sauce
- 4 salmon fillet
- olive oil - a few tablespoon
- 4 pieces sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 roasted red pepper
- 1 red onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp capers
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 2 tbsp parsley
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp chilli
- Finely chop sun-dried tomato, onion, chili pepper, parsley, add ginger and capers, and fry for 2 minutes in 2-3 tbsp of olive oil. In the last 30 seconds add chopped garlic.
- Add flour, fry for about 30 seconds, and then add 100ml of water, roasted peppers, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Continue to cook for approximately 2 minutes until the sauce thickens to your preference. Be careful with salt as capers tend to be quite salty.
- Finely chop all sauce ingredients, add lemon juice and olive oil, and mix well. Let it rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
- Fry the salmon in oil, placing it in the pan with the skin side down. Cook it covered for about 5 minutes. In the last minute, turn the fillets and cook for an additional 1 minute.
- Drizzle sauce over the cooked salmon.