Spanish Saffron Salmon (Salmón de Azafrán)
One of the best dishes I ate when I was travelling through Spain in April was this salmon dish in Granada. I spent a few days in Granada, visiting the Alhambra and nosing around the little windy streets of the city and it's ancient quarters. It's quite an expensive city for a visitor. It was the most expensive place I stayed in Spain, and I'll be honest it completely took my by surprise. Even Seville wasn't anywhere near as pricey. As always, there are cheaper ways to eat in every city in the world, but I thought I had might as well try one really nice restaurant meal while in the city. I hate a wasted opportunity when travelling!
I visited a restaurant on Calle Chirimías - can't remember the name of it - and it seemed busy enough but not too busy that they'd begrudge seating a single person. I ordered a starter - a mille feuille made of apples, goat's cheese and P.X sherry sauce - and it was phenomenal. For main course, I had this dish - Salmon de Azafrán - a grilled fillet of salmon with crunchy green vegetables and a gilded in a creamy, sunset-gold saffron sauce. It was lightly sharp, like a Hollandaise, but no yolkiness to have been made with eggs. There was a hard hit of Spanish saffron: brassy, bold and with a rich yolkiness of its own. Little specks of sea salt around the place to dap with each fanciful forkful. It was the kitties' titties.
I've recreated it here to similar effect, with a grilled fillet of salmon: 8 minutes on the grill, 4 on either side. I put some new potatoes onto boil and throw in some asparagus tips 3 minutes before the end. You can use any vegetables you like really; have a play around with it. The magic is in that golden saffron sauce. Use your best saffron, it will stand out here. If you get cheap saffron you might need to use more of it. When you buy saffron, try and look for some that have an origin other than Iran - I find I have to use lots more Persian saffron than I should because it's not as strong. Spanish, Kashmiri or Afghan is the best. Try it with other fish, something quite meaty. Perhaps a poached chicken breast if you prefer to keep your tastebuds away from the sea!
Salmón de Azafrán RECIPE
- Salmon Loin FIllet (1x per person)
- 200g soured cream
- 5-10 strands saffron (for higher the quality, use fewer)
- juice of one lime
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or sweet paprika for mild)
- 1 teaspoon honey or pinch of sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Prepare the saffron cream sauce first so it can stand. Begin by placing the strands of saffron in a small dish and adding 1-2 tablespoons of boiling water from a kettle. Leave to stand for 15 minutes until they bleed out their topaz yellow stain (it can help to microwave the saffron mixture for 30 seconds, if using cheaper saffron).
- Mix soured cream with salt, pepper, cayenne/paprika, honey/sugar and the juice of one lime.
- Add the saffron mixture to the soured cream mixture and leave to stand for 10 minutes.
- Cook the salmon loins in a dry griddle pan or frying pain. Oil the salmon well all over before cooking. Cook for 4 minutes on both sides.
- Let the salmon rest for 5 minutes out of the pan. Prepare some blanched green vegetables in this time to serve alongside. Drizzle with saffron sauce and a lash of great quality Spanish extra virgin olive oil to marry into the sauce.