Salmon with romesco sauce recipe

Recipe by Neil Morris - 04 February 2013

romesco

Region: Catalonia

Preparation: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 45 mins

Oven temp: 230°C (450°F)

Difficulty: easy/medium

Serves: 4

nonveg

This salmon with romesco sauce recipe is a wonderfully rich and healthy dish that has to be tasted to be believed.

The sauce originates in the Catalonian town of Tarragona and makes good use of the local produce such as hazelnuts, almonds and peppers. As with all traditional sauces there are many variations; this version is designed to be as authentic as possible whilst using ingredients that should be accessible to everyone (The traditional version uses Spanish dried nora peppers that are not widely available in some countries).

Romesco sauce is versatile and can be used as a dip which is often served with grilled spring onions. It can also be served with other types of fish and also with meat. It is often served with trout but I feel the salmon stands up to the strong flavours slightly better.

Shopping list

  • olive oil (aceite de oliva)
  • salmon fillets (filetes de salmón)
  • 2 red peppers (pimientos rojos)
  • 3 small but mild red chilli peppers (chiles rojos)
  • 4 tomatoes (tomates)
  • 1 onion (cebolla)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (dientes de ajo)
  • 1/4 cup of hazelnuts (avellanas)
  • 1/4 cup of blanched almonds (almendres)
  • 1 slice of stale bread (rebanada de pan)
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar (vinagre de Jerez)
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika (pimienton dulce)
  • salt (sal)
  • freshly ground black pepper (pimienta recién molida negro)
  • salad leaves to garnish (ensalada)

Method

Start by roasting the red peppers, chillies, onion, tomatoes and garlic cloves in the pre-heated oven for around 30 mins; once the vegetables are well charred (they will need turning halfway through cooking) remove and place in a bowl covered with a tea towel and allow to cool for at least 15 mins. Once they have cooled remove the skins and seeds from the peppers, chillies, tomatoes, garlic and onion and chop roughly.

While the vegetables are roasting, fry the almonds and hazelnuts in a tablespoon of olive oil until they are lightly browned and set aside; then fry the bread until brown on both sides and cut roughly into small pieces.

Place everything in a blender with the remaining ingredients (not the salmon!) and blend slowly, gradually adding olive oil until the sauce is just the right consistency (not too thick and not too runny), keeping the texture of the sauce quite rough, then season to taste with salt and allow to cool.

Score the salmon skin a couple of times (this allows heat into the flesh), lightly oil and season then fry skin-side down in a clean pan for about 4-6 minutes over a high heat until the skin is crispy and brown; use a really thin palette knife to lift the end of the salmon and check if it is done. Once it has browned, turn the salmon and cook for another minute or so on the other side depending on how well you like it cooked (a minute will keep it soft and fleshy in the middle, any longer and it will start to go lighter and dryer).

Tip: when you place the salmon in the frying pan try not to touch it again while it is cooking as the skin will stick initially and can rip if you move the fish. Wait until you can see the edge of the skin going crispy then lift gently with a thin knife to check if it is cooked. Once the skin is cooked the fish should lift with ease.

Place the desired amount of sauce on a plate, top with the salmon and serve with lightly dressed salad leaves.

Note: adding freshly chopped tarragon or fennel leaves to romesco sauce just before serving works really well with fish dishes.

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