THE ISLAND COOK

CHERMOULA SALMON ROAST with apricot couscous

I know salmon can be a vexed issue in terms of provenance, quality and so on. Nevertheless, even a humble supermarket purchase can be a real treat if you bag it in the right form at the right time. That is, in one big piece of fillet and when it's cut-price (currently £10 for a kilo; 8 x 125g portions). And buying big and uncut means much greater succulence and richness but less fatty fishy flavour. And it's ideal for an alternative roast to a bird or hunk of meat. I used half the slab of salmon here and cut the remainder into individual fillets for the freezer. Chermoula is a lovely North African concoction, and because it's encased inside the salmon, the leafy herbs in the mix won't get burned but rather wilt and meld.

Serves 4

500g piece of skin-on salmon fillet

for the couscous
• 1 red pepper, halved, cored and deseeded
• Olive oil, for drizzling
• Grated rind of 1 unwaxed lemon (squeeze juice and use for chermoula)
• 175g couscous, preferably wholemeal
• 75g unsulphured soft dried apricots, chopped
• 190ml hot chicken or vegetable stock
• Small handful of coriander, chopped, plus extra to garnish if you like

for the chermoula
• Small handful each of coriander and flat-leaf parsley, chopped
• 1 garlic clove, crushed with salt
• 2 tsp ground cumin
• 1 tsp paprika
• 1/2 tsp chilli powder, or to taste
• Juice of lemon zested for couscous
• 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing

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Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 and line a small roasting tin with foil. For the couscous, flatten the pepper halves skin-side up in the tin, drizzle with a smidge of olive oil and grind over salt and pepper. Shove in the oven on the top shelf while you prep your other elements. Zest the lemon for the couscous and squeeze the juice for the chermoula. Cut the salmon into 2 equal lengths. Lay one piece skin-side down in another small roasting tin brushed with oil. Mix together all the chermoula ingredients, including salt and pepper, then trowel over the salmon in the tin. Top with the other piece of salmon skin-side up. Brush the skin with any stray chermoula juice and/or oil. Add to the oven alongside the pepper and leave for about 30 mins until the fish is cooked through and the exposed skin is crisp.
When the pepper has roasted for about 30 mins and the skin is blistered and blackened, remove from the oven, wrap in the foil and leave while you finish preparing the couscous. Put the couscous in a deep ovenproof dish or bowl. Put the apricots in a jug and pour over the hot stock, then stir both into the couscous. Cover with foil and leave to stand for about 10 mins. Peel away the pepper skin, chop the flesh and stir into the couscous with the coriander and lemon zest. Drizzle over and stir in a little oil, then recover with the foil and pop into the bottom of the oven until you're ready to serve. Cut the salmon roast into slices through both layers and serve with the couscous, scattered with extra coriander if you like. Complete with a crisp green veg.