Food carries a lot of capacity for nostalgia and love and often has strong connections to family: the food you grow up with, the food you make for each other, the occasions when you get together to eat. For me, my family is central to my life. We are very close and I speak to my immediate family (my parents and sister) almost every day. When times are difficult they are always there to comfort and support me, and I don’t know what I’d do without them. This recipe is close to my heart because it is something that my sister, Beth and I have made together since we were teenagers, particularly for our special “sister evenings”. Originally it came from a Ken Hom recipe of shallow fried crispy salmon with a ginger and tomato sauce but over the years we have found that you don’t need to fill a pan with oil to get crispy salmon, the salmon will crisp perfectly well in its own fat, and we have varied the ingredients and proportions of the tomato sauce until we have got it just how we like it, which conveniently also happens to be very simple to make. We have tried it with various accompaniments over the years, but I particularly like the mix of butterbeans and vegetables below. It manages to be both light and hearty, healthy and filling, and in my opinion very tasty. If you are vegetarian or vegan you can replace the salmon with ginger sweet potato and tofu croquettes. These not only taste good but I love the sweet gingery smell that they fill the kitchen with as they cook, and their cheerful pinky orange colour.
Beth’s tomato and ginger butterbean bowl with crispy salmon
Cooking time: 25-30 minutes
Dietary info: dairy-free (vegan version in the tasty little twists)
- 2 fillets salmon, skinned and cut into bite sized pieces
- About 20-25g wholemeal flour (enough to coat the salmon)
- ½ tsp salt
- 1-2 cans butterbeans (depending on how hungry you are), rinsed and drained
- ½ a broccoli, cut into florets
- 150g beansprouts
- 1 aubergine, cut into chunks
- Lemon juice to serve, optional
Ginger and tomato sauce
- 6 tomatoes, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tsp ginger, finely chopped
- 50ml water
- 1-2 tbsp soy sauce, to taste
- Put the tomatoes, water, ginger and garlic in a saucepan and simmer, covered, until the tomatoes break down to form a sauce. Remove the lid and let the sauce bubble down until it is thick but still juicy. Season with the soy sauce
- Heat the butterbeans in a saucepan or the microwave for 3-4 minutes until heated through.
- Steam the aubergine until it is starting to soften (3-5 minutes) then put on a non-stick baking tray and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until it is crispy on the outside. You can sprinkle with a pinch of salt and / or garlic powder for extra flavour.
- Steam the broccoli and beansprouts until tender (about 6-10 minutes for the broccoli, 3-5 for the beansprouts)
- Mix together the flour and salt and toss the salmon chunks in it until they are coated.
- Fry the salmon in a non stick frying pan over a medium heat for about 4-5 minutes per side until it is cooked through, with the outside brown and crispy. there is no need to add any oil as the natural oil will come out so that the salmon fries in its own fat. Drain the salmon onto kitchen paper.
- To serve, toss the beans with the vegetables, pour the sauce over them and top with the crispy salmon, with lemon juice to squeeze over everything if you want.
A few tips to prep ahead:
- Make the sauce and keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.
- Chop the vegetables and keep in a bag in the fridge, ready to cook on the night.
- On the night you just need to prepare and cook the salmon, steam the vegetables, and heat the beans and sauce.
- If you are making the vegan version then make the ginger sweet potato tofu mix and keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days then make into croquettes and bake on the night. If you want a quicker meal, you can bake the croquettes 2-3 days in advance and just reheat in the oven on the night.
Some tasty little twists and extras…
This tomato and ginger sauce, and the way of cooking salmon, are two of the easiest and most versatile recipes / techniques I know:
- The sauce and salmon or croquettes works well with any other beans, noodles, pasta, rice or other grains instead of the butterbeans
- You can miss out the vegetables or replace them with any other combination of vegetables that you like, such as shredded cabbage, sugar snap peas, baby corn or pak choi
- Try adding spices, such as ground chilli or ground ginger, to the flour to coat the salmon or add a spice mix such as curry powder or jerk seasoning and serve with lemon juice and beans or rice
For a vegetarian / vegan version of the tomato and ginger butterbean bowl, replace the salmon with the ginger sweet potato tofu croquettes below.
Ginger sweet potato tofu croquettes
Cooking time: 20 minutes preparation (including steaming the sweet potato), 30 minutes baking
Dietary info: vegan, gluten-free
- 1 large sweet potato, scrubbed and cut into sliced (no need to peel)
- 300g silken (soft) tofu
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated or finely chipped
- juice of ½ a lemon
- Steam or boil the sweet potato until very soft (about 10-15 minutes)
- Mash the sweet potato with the other ingredients, either by hand or in a food processor
- Spoon tablespoons of the mixture onto a nonstick baking tray (I use a nonstick silicon sheet to line the baking tray) and shape into small oblong lozenges with your hands. This is easiest if the mixture has cooled and been chilled first as it becomes quite firm
- Bake at 180C fan for 30 minutes, turning half way through, until the outside is crispy and beginning to brown