I find it’s pretty easy for me to fall into a weeknight cooking rut, and reach for the same things too often, so this moroccan tuna dish has been a nice way to change things up from my usual asian salmon noodle bowl.
This perhaps isn’t quite so quick to throw together thanks to the marinade and the oven time for the potatoes, but it’s all still pretty low effort with minimal intervention needed from you.
The marinade is a sort-of sort-of chermoula, varied according to whatever spices you keep around the house, and quite how high your garlic tolerance is. Briefly though, one big handful of coriander, three cloves of garlic, juice of one lemon, teaspoon of cumin, paprika and sumac into a mini-whizzer and blitzed until a nice lumpy consistency should do it.
Sumac, as far as I can tell from under three minutes of google-ing isn’t traditional in there, but it’s a nice lemony boost alongside the juice. Let the tuna marinade in this for twenty minutes or so while you parboil the some new potatoes, and bash them around a bit with the end of rolling pin so there are some good edges to go crispy. Then you can just heat two frying pans and toss the potatoes around in one (with plenty of oil), and sear off the salmon in the other.
But one word of warning – have a bit more confidence than I ever do, and take the tuna off the heat before it’s fully changed colour the whole way through, so you get a bit of the scarlet inside rather than it turning dull grey.
When I was sent a magic baking tin to review, I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it: with that name, it seems a little gimmicky, along with it’s promise that pretty much any shape cake is possible. The idea of the magic baking tin is to allow you to make pretty much any shape at home, from it’s selection of curves, corners and straight pieces, and then have them all pinned together. Clearly things have moved on since my mum used to rent various combinations of letters or number cake tins from one of the shops in my home town for our birthdays.
I was really impressed with it though – I used it to make this ridiculously good millionaires’ shortbread (recipe from BBC Good Food) and I easily got two decent sized hearts out of the mixture with plenty of extra caramel leftover for pouring on ice-cream afterwards. And once I’d layered it all together, it was a much simpler job to unclip the metal pieces from the sides of my shortbread and have them fall cleanly away, rather than try to manoeuvre a slab of shortbread out from a solid baking tin.
Their maker claims this can do 100 shapes from the one set – and while I suspect quite a lot of those would need a good hand in decoration to really help them take on that appearance, I can see this being a surprisingly useful piece of kit to keep around next time I have a special birthday cake in need of creating.
Polenta bowl probably doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, as say, a pasta bowl supper or even budda bowl. But what other way to describe to describe this dinner? Creamy polenta, tender salmon, spicy chorizo and a big handful of spinach for extra goodness. Plus, if you use instant polenta, this pulls together in just fifteen minutes. Which I reckon is probably even quicker than pasta, whatever way you do it.
The trick to polenta that doesn’t just taste like wet slop is to make sure you cook it in stock, rather than just water. And decent stock at that. Essential Cuisine were kind enough to send me some samples of their restaurant quality stocks and gravies recently, and much as I never thought I’d say this, I’ve definitely noticed lift in flavour from cooking and using these instead of my usual stock cube. Much as I am happy to make my own stock when I have a chicken carcass hanging around, I don’t always have some to hand, and these have been a helpful middle ground when balancing flavour with the lack to time and patience to make everything from scratch.
Anyway, your basic plan for getting the polenta bowl goes like this: two pans on – one for water and one for frying. Fry the tasty bits for the top while boiling up the stock for the polenta. Once it boils, whisk the polenta into the stock and then serve into a bowl with all the extra goodness on top. Collapse on the sofa with your bowl and a large glass of wine, and enjoy (as a dinner for one in my case, since this contains salmon and polenta – two of J’s least loved foods).
Salmon, Chorizo & Polenta Bowl
50g chorizo, diced
1 salmon fillet
50g instant cook polenta
300ml good quality vegetable stock
Heat up a frying pan, and put the stock in a separate pan to come up to the boil. Fry off the chorizo until the oil oozes out, remove from the pan, and put the salmon in to cook through in the paprika-y oil.
When the stock has come up to the boil, pour in the polenta, and whisk until it thickens up (about a minute or so). Stir in the butter and feta to melt, and the spinach to wilt, and then serve up in a bowl with coriander scattered on top.