Monday, 9 May 2011

pan-grilled lime and pepper infused salmon and asparagus, topped with yoghurt, pomegranate and mint

Oh hello! I have a fancy dish. By my standards, anyway.

I blame it all on those cooking shows I've been watching recently, especially Masterchef, the reality TV show featuring amateur cooks, currently in its third season in Australia. In Masterchef land, plates are dotted with sauce, swiped with puree, and swirled with chocolate in a concerted effort to impress. Delicate cuts of meat artfully graze amongst idyllic fields of vegetables, exuding an air of confidence and serenity despite their impending fate.

Poorly equipped as I may be with my limited stash of kitchen supplies - not to mention cooking and decorating skills - I decided to embark myself upon a "pretty dish challenge", with a cruel and unintended 1-hour timeframe for cooking, photographing, eating and washing up, as this was a late lunch and I had to rush off to my uncle's house out in the suburbs for an early dinner.

Did I succeed? Well, sort of.

pan-grilled lime and pepper infused salmon and asparagus, topped with yoghurt, pomegranate and mint.

What might I say about my dish if I were a judge on Masterchef? (I'm a very busy girl, aren't I, pretending to be a contestant AND a judge in my own made-up challenge!)

Me (as a judge): "Your heart may be in the right place, but your execution is a little clumsy. The pieces of salmon are shoddily cut - perhaps you should've just left the fillet whole. And the asparagus stalks are not all trimmed to quite the same length. You need to refine your plating-up skills, but I do love the fresh and vibrant colours in this dish. Now let's see how it tastes."

*takes a bite and chews thoughtfully*

"The salmon is tender and juicy, ditto the asparagus, and I like the flavour hit of lime and black pepper. But it's not quite the complete dish, is it?"

Right, my time constraints meant that I was eating my portion of fish and asparagus off the pan as it cooked, so I didn't actually end up trying the full version with the yoghurt, pomegranate seeds and mint leaves. These all ended up in the one semi-pretty plate that I served to Simon. So he'll have to claim position as the second judge.

The thing is, though, with Simon, I don't really get very comprehensive feedback.

Me: "Time for lunch!"

Simon, grinning: "That's a little posh, isn't it?"

Me: "Don't laugh at me, just eat it. What do you think?"

Simon: "It's nice."

Me, playing insecure girlfriend/food blogger role: "Are you just saying that?"

Simon: "No, you know I'm not a big fan of salmon, but I'm finding this really easy to eat."

And that was it. On the plus side, Simon is quite an honest judge and has at times expressed reluctance to eat (or finish eating) certain dishes I made, so, considering he finished everything on the plate, I am quite content with this verdict of his. And you will just have to trust him.

pan-grilled lime and pepper infused salmon & asparagus, topped with yoghurt, pomegranate & mint
(makes 2 very modest lunch servings)

2 small salmon fillets (approx. 250g total)
12 stalks asparagus, trimmed
1.5 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon grated lime zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 heaped tablespoons greek yoghurt
2 heaped tablespoons pomegranate seeds
20 small mint leaves

- Combine lime juice, olive oil, salt, black pepper and lime zest. Use half this mixture as a marinade and rub all over the salmon and asparagus. Reserve the other half for drizzling later.
- On a heated grill or frying pan, cook asparagus spears for about 4 minutes, turning occasionally and testing for tenderness.
- Pan-grill or pan-fry salmon on all sides - exact times will depend on the thickness of the salmon fillet. I cook them until they turn just opaque on each side, and the whole process invariably takes less than 10 minutes.
- For each plate, arrange asparagus spears in a tight square. Place salmon fillet on top. Add a tablespoon of yoghurt. Scatter pomegranate seeds and mint leaves in decorative fashion. Lightly drizzle with seasoning mixture, and sprinkle with more salt and black pepper if desired.

pan-grilled salmon and asparagus infused with black pepper, lime juice and olive oil, topped with yoghurt, mint and pomegranate.


  1. Such lovely flavours, this sounds amazing! And the pomegranate seeds make the whole dish look so pretty!

  2. This post made me laugh so hard! I have a sweet spot for Masterchef as well. Although I find most of the cooking to be just the opposite of what I like in food, and I just have the idea of competition, I have found myself wondering about what I would have cooked. Indeed, presentation is tough! Yours look beautiful anyway - robust flavours and all that jazz included :)

  3. I miss pan grilling. I can't do that in my kitchen though because it's an open kitchen and my house will smell after pan grilling. :(

  4. Haha, I love masterchef! To be honest, if I cooked this for my friend and he went into a monologue about the lengths of the asparagus stalks, I would be a little freaked out. Great post! (And it is very pretty :)

  5. Thanks Maria. Pomegranate seeds really give any dish that visual pick-me-up!

    Thanks lacaffettierarosa! I think I know what you mean - I enjoy a fancy dish every now and then, but the dishes that appeal to me most primally are usually the homeliest ones.

    Oh Michelle. Maybe just once in a while?

    Haha Xinmei, yeah a monologue from my friends would be a little weird. I guess that's why I'll have to critique my own work and be the weird role-player. ;)

  6. You're definitely right about the Masterchef-esque nature of this creation! my mind went "phwoar" when I read the title. Bravo indeed!

  7. Hannah, I am convinced the secret to a fancy dish is a very long name that calls out almost the entire list of ingredients. That, and pomegranate seeds. ;)

  8. I think Simon's a good judge! Yesterday I got "That smells nauseating; I am not eating that" from my chief taster!

    Pomegranate seeds make everything look pretty, but this dish really sounds good too.

  9. At least your chief taster expresses himself with gusto, hahah. But yeah, Simon's not too bad I guess. ;)

  10. That does look very fancy schmancy my dear!

  11. Delicious dish with wonderful flavours.

  12. LOL! DOn't blame the cooking shows. They done us good! At least we became more adventurous. :p

  13. Thanks msihua, Jay and Ellie. :)

    tigerfish - true, true! I've definitely been inspired by some of these cooking shows. :D

  14. What an artistic meal you created! I could never come up with something like this. The red pomegranates add just right punch on the dish. Beautiful!

  15. Thanks msihua, Jay, Ellie and beyondkimchee! :)

  16. it is a pretty dish. you must be proud of it yah?

  17. That looks delicious, I love Salmon. Mr GG is the same, I have learned to live with no feedback. I take my queues from how much is eaten :)

  18. Penny, it's not quite perfect but I'm definitely quite pleased with it! :D

    GG - true, simple feedback like that is enough really, I'm asking too much in wanting an elaborate analysis. ;)

  19. haha love your post! i think it looks very masterchefish indeed, good job. I have trouble getting comments from my partner too, probably because half the time when he does criticise it i get all cut and emotional!!!

  20. Haha! Generally if I am extremely unhappy with my dish I know he's probably not going to like it either. I still ask for the confirmation though, to torture myself, lol. Goes the other way too, if I think something is awesome it's generally a hit with him too.

    But the more interesting situations are when we disagree - and it's really not a bad deal if I'm thinking about throwing something away but he likes it enough to rescue it. ;)


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