I’m not a big fish-eater, but salmon is one fish I do enjoy in dishes such as Smoked Salmon Cucumber Rolls, Baked Salmon with Roasted Vegetables and my go-to appetizer was usually Smoked Salmon Spread until I stopped eating dairy.
While reviewing Rinku Bhattacharya’s new book Spices & Seasons, the colorful photo of Salmon in a Tomato, Thyme and Ginger Sauce jumped out at me. As I read the recipe, my first reaction was “yay, this fits with the new diet I adopted after completing the 10-Day Detox!” My second reaction was “hooray, I’ll finally get to use the curry leaves I bought at Penzey’s a while back!”
This dish is quick to prepare and the flavors of both France and Southern India will wow you. I made a few minor changes to the recipe:
- I took the skin off my salmon.
- I substituted coconut oil for the olive oil.
- I used dried curry leaves. (I’m assuming Rinku used fresh ones.)
- I used fresh lemon thyme instead of regular thyme (because that’s what is growing in a pot on my deck).
- I skipped the cilantro because the CompostMaster thinks it tastes like soap.
- I served the salmon over greens instead of rice.
I hope you enjoy this spicy take on salmon as much as I did.
Salmon in a Tomato, Thyme and Ginger Sauce
Reprinted with permission from Spices & Seasons by Rinku Bhattacharya
Pondicherry (or Podduchery) is a small area in southern India. A former French colony, the town retains a very prominent French influence on the culture, traditions, and food of this region which results in a unique cuisine that combines French flavors with traditional South Indian spices. This simple, tangy fish creation, with light overtones of thyme, is based on something I chanced on several years back in a New York restaurant called Pondicherry. If you do not have thyme, you can use ajowain or carom seeds.
Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 20 minutes | Serves: 4 to 6
2 pounds wild-caught salmon fillets, skin on
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons salt
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
8 to 10 curry leaves (optional)
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 or 3 green Serrano chilies, minced
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- Cut the salmon into 2-inch pieces. Rub with the turmeric and half the salt. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the mustard seeds and when they crackle add the curry leaves if using.
- Add the onion, ginger, and green Serrano chilies and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Add the tomatoes, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and the thyme and cook on low heat until the tomatoes are nice and soft and pulpy.
- Stir in the basil and vinegar and gently add the salmon. Poach the salmon on low heat for 7 minutes. Do not overcook, it is important for the salmon to be just moist but not dried out.
- Garnish with the cilantro and serve over rice, if desired.
Makes 6 servings
Per serving: 211 calories, 9g fat (1g sat), 73mg cholesterol, 824mg sodium, 5g carb, 1g fiber, 3g sugar, 32g protein
During my junior year of college, I lived in a 12-unit apartment building off-campus. The guys who rented the apartment immediately below mine grew up in India. The most amazing aromas of curry and cumin and turmeric greeted me whenever I entered our building. My house smells like that now as I’ve been trying a bunch of recipes from Rinku Bhattacharya’s new book Spices & Seasons. It’s bringing back a lot of great memories.
My diet has changed rather dramatically recently, ever since I did Dr. Mark Hyman’s 10-Day Detox. I received my copy of Spices and Seasons while I was in the middle of the detox and I was afraid to glance through it because I assumed there would be a ton of recipes I couldn’t eat. When the detox ended and I finally looked through the book, I evaluated recipes by their lack of (1) sugar, (2) grains, (3) dairy and (4) legumes. I happily flagged more than a dozen recipes that fit into my new eating plan.
The CompostMaster and I have been trying so many recipes from this book, everything from the Essential Indian Chopped Salad to Salmon in a Tomato, Thyme and Ginger Sauce. Everything so far has been well-seasoned and mouth-watering, although I’ve made some minor modifications along the way. (The CompostMaster hates cilantro, for example, and there’s a lot of cilantro in the dishes.) Rinku’s Citrusy Roasted Beets with Toasted Spices are on tonight’s menu. I’ll be featuring a recipe from the book later this week.
Here are a few notes about the book in general:
- Rinku takes the intimidation factor out of Indian cooking. Her recipes and techniques are practical and simple.
- Rinku writes beautifully. You’ll read about her grandmother’s kitchen, how to create an essential spice kit and getting children to make healthy dining choices among other things.
- For the most part, the recipes make use of ingredients that are easy to find in U.S. grocery stores.
- Rinku is very conscious of today’s special dietary needs and even includes gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan indexes in the back of the book to complement the full-blown recipe index.
- The photographs in the book are bright and so colorful. Every single recipe has a full-page photo beside it.
- There isn’t any nutritional information provided, but the ingredients are sustainable and fresh and most recipes would fit into a diabetic-friendly diet.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed cooking from Spices & Seasons. If learning to prepare simple Indian food intrigues you, check out Rinku’s blog, Cooking in Westchester and go grab yourself a copy of her book.
Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of Spices & Seasons by Rinku Bhattacharya. All opinions are my own.
Some readers of this blog, the CompostMaster and I recently took on the challenge presented in The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet by Mark Hyman, MD. Dr. Hyman is one of the physicians featured in the recent movie Fed Up.
We carefully reviewed the diet, which was recommended to us by our doctor, before we committed to follow it. Neither of us wanted to try anything too crazy. For example, I wanted to make sure it included real food and wasn’t primarily liquid-based. So, even though the word “detox” is in the title, it isn’t a “cleanse.” It’s primarily about getting off sugar, caffeine, alcohol, grains and dairy.
So why did we decide to detox?
For me, it was all about my blood glucose, specifically my fasting numbers. I’ve been suffering from the dawn effect for quite a while and nothing seemed to consistently bring my fasting numbers down. After more than a decade of following the American Diabetes Association’s dietary guidelines, I found they just didn’t work for me anymore. I didn’t want to add another medication unless absolutely necessary so I tried giving up wheat and going vegan. While that regimen may work perfectly well for some, it didn’t work for me since most vegan sources of protein also contain carbohydrates. My post-meal BG numbers were controlled, but my fasting numbers were not. I decided the diet recommended in the detox was going to be my last attempt at controlling my BG with diet and metformin only.
For the CompostMaster, although he’s amazingly healthy, he has been having trouble losing weight, specifically around his middle. After reading the book, we became convinced the detox would work for both of us.
In just 10 days, the CompostMaster and I accomplished the following:
- We both kicked caffeine, tea for me and coffee for him.
- He lost 8 pounds and I lost 5.
- My fasting blood glucose dropped more than 60 points between Day 1 and Day 10. (Yes, it was embarrassingly high at the start.)
- I lost two full inches off my waistline.
Things You Should Know
If you are considering the detox, here are a few things you might want to know so you can plan accordingly:
- The process will be much easier if you have a support group. I set up a private Facebook group so that we could all share our successes and frustrations. If you’d like to start the detox at any time, please request to join the Facebook group and those of us who have been through it will be happy to answer questions and support you through the process.
- Your diet will primarily consist of poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, non-starchy vegetables, lots of greens, avocados, coconut & olive oil, nuts and seeds. You’ll get to eat a little bit of fruit in your morning smoothie and a dinner choice or two features beef.
- You will spend a lot of time cooking, chopping and preparing food.
- If you aren’t normally at home during the day (e.g. you work in an office), I recommend you start the detox on a Saturday. You may not feel great the first couple of days (especially if you are trying to kick caffeine) and your body needs time to adjust to all of the changes.
- You will think about poop more often than you ever have in your life.
- There will be times that you are in a bad mood, feel exhausted and/or have a headache. Know that these symptoms are temporary and that, in just a few days, the pain totally will be worth it because you will feel so alive and energetic.
- Make sure to eat your snacks. I skipped my afternoon snack one day and really, really, really wanted to go out to dinner that night because I was so hungry I didn’t want to take the time to cook. Fortunately, the CompostMaster offered to make dinner. (Yes, I’m a lucky girl to have this kind of support at home.)
- The recipes in the book were not written by someone who cooks often! The instructions might tell you to pour dressing on a salad and then go cook a piece of chicken. I don’t know about you, but I don’t really like soggy greens! Read the recipes carefully and see if the steps make sense or if you need to make some adjustments.
- If you don’t like the recipe choices for a given day (there’s always a basic one and an adventurous one), you can eat vegetables plus your choice of protein instead. The meals are very flexible.
So, are we glad we did the detox? Absolutely!
How will we eat going forward? Our plan is to stick to the guidelines for a couple of months, then start adding in some of the “forbidden” foods to see how they affect us. We feel so good at the moment and we’ve had such success we don’t want to change anything!