1 ½ cups Puy, or other small brown lentils
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ cup coriander seeds
¼ cup fennel seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
2 teaspoons whole cloves
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large shallots, chopped
2 tablespoons harissa
2 x 400gram tins Italian plum tomatoes, chopped
6 slices salmon fillet, about 170g each, skin on
Lentils: Cover the lentils with 6 cups of water in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer – stirring occasionally – until the lentils are tender – about 30 minutes.
Drain, season and set aside, covered.
Tomato Sauce: Toast and grind the coriander, fennel, cumin, cardamom and cloves (see panel) – makes ¾ cup. Warm the ¼ cup of olive oil in a saucepan over a moderately low heat. Add the garlic and shallots and cook gently until soft and translucent – 5-10 minutes.
Add the harissa and 1 tablespoon of the spice mixture and cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and juice and increase the heat. Simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, until the flavours are well blended and the sauce has thickened. Season.
Salmon: Preheat the oven to 200°C. Remove any bones from the salmon (see page109). Heat a large frying pan over a high heat and add the 1 tablespoon of oil. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and coat the flesh side only with some of the spice mixture. Store any remaining spice mixture in an airtight jar. When the oil is very hot, add the salmon fillets, skin side down and sauté for 3 minutes. Transfer the pan to the oven without turning the fillets and roast the salmon for about 3-4 minutes or until the skin is very crisp and the fish is cooked to your liking.
Meanwhile, reheat the lentils and the tomato sauce. Spoon the lentils into the centre of warmed dinner plates and set the salmon fillets on top, skin side up. Spoon the tomato sauce around and serve at once. Serves 6
Harissa: [Har-ritha]. A fiery hot sauce from North Africa, made from chilli, garlic, cumin, coriander and caraway. Available from good food stores.
Edamame beans: Japanese soy beans – are available frozen, either in the pod or out, from Asian stores. They make a delicious snack when blanched and salted, and they are good for you too!