honey soy salmon, kale & sweet potato mash

Salmon. It's nutritious and delicious!
Salmon. It’s nutritious and delicious!

I really ought to eat more fish.

I tell myself things like this on a regular basis. Fish is delicious – tender, light yet filling and full of delicate flavour – and it’s good for you, too; packed full of vitamins, protein and omega 3s, fish is rightfully known as brain food. It’s the heart-healthy meat that can be farmed sustainably and your body will love you for it.

But just between you and me, I may be a wee bit – scared – of cooking fish. I mean, it has this reputation, doesn’t it? It’s fiddly, it falls apart not just on your fork but also in the pan, or sticks with a stubbornness that only a determined spatula can overcome. It cooks unevenly. It can turn dry and tough. When you cook fish you’re taking the chance that it all may come to a ruinous, nightmarish mess resulting in pasta and sauce for dinner.

honey and soy salmon
honey and soy salmon, served with a gingery kale and sweet potato mash.

Worry not, friends. The dense, tender flesh of salmon stands up to flavours well, is significantly less likely to fall apart and is much more forgiving than your average fish when it comes to cooking times. Its high fatty acid content means it’s unlikely to dry out, and most importantly it makes for wonderful eating. If you’re at all wary about cooking fish, salmon’s where you start.

Honey and soy, two things I always have in the cupboard, make an excellent marinade for the salmon, highlighting its natural sweetness. To balance this, I’ve added ginger and garlic to the kale – yet another so-good-for-you-it’s-hard-to-believe ingredient. Kale is nutrient-rich, high in calcium, fibre and iron, not to mention vitamins C and K.

And please, let us not have me begin waxing lyrical about sweet potato again. Suffice it to say that a good bed of buttery sweet potato mash completes this delicious and nutritious feelgood trinity.

oh, that sweet potato.
oh, that sweet potato.

Make the most of the last rays of the summer sun – or indeed, welcome spring as they are back in Oz. Enjoy!

Honey soy salmon with ginger kale and sweet potato mash
For the salmon:
2 salmon fillets
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp light soy sauce
For the kale:
100g kale
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, grated OR garlic oil
For the sweet potato mash:
500g sweet potatoes
25g butter

Mix the honey and soy together and pour over the salmon fillets. You can do this the night before and store them in a ziplock bag, or marinate 30 minutes before you start.

Peel and wash the sweet potatoes, then cut into large chunks and boil in a pot until soft (this takes around 20 minutes depending on the size of your chunks). Drain and add the butter before mashing, then cover and set aside.

Heat oil in a pan and add the grated ginger and garlic. For low-FODMAPpers, leave out the garlic and use garlic oil.

Add the kale and fry gently until the leaves go glossy and dark green – this should only take about 2-3 minutes.

Heat oil in a pan (the same one, if you like!) and then add the salmon, skin-side down. Fry for 4 minutes, taking care the honey isn’t burning the skin. Flip and cook for another 3 minutes.

baked sweet potato wedges

Savoury, sweet and moreish.
Savoury, sweet and moreish.

Once upon a time in a vegetable patch far far away, a pumpkin fell in love with a potato. Their eyes met across a crowded plot and after a sweepingly romantic courtship amidst the tubers and the squash, they got married and started a happy little Plantae family.

And that, boys and girls, is how we came to have sweet potato.

Brilliant rows of low-GI goodness
Brilliant rows of delicious low-GI goodness

Okay, so the story isn’t at all scientifically sensible or even morphologically accurate, but it’s as good an explanation as any as to how sweet potatoes manage to combine the best elements of two wonderful vegetables: the caramel-toned taste, gently yielding yet toothsome texture and brilliant orange hue could only be a result of true love.

We never grew up eating sweet potato. I vividly remember my sister cooking them for us once, baked whole in the oven with cinnamon sugar and butter, which was sadly far too sophisticated for my twelve-year-old tastebuds. I didn’t like them, didn’t understand how they could be starchy-but-not-really and sweet-but-not-really, and it all seemed to me to be a rather confusing, unwelcome distraction from my love of potatoes.

So I have a lot – a lot – of catching up to do.

Ready for the oven
Ready for the oven

And yes, it is really pushing it to call this a recipe, but it’s how I finally came to understand sweet potatoes in all their glory. I like to enhance the sweetness of the potato with brown sugar, and the savouriness with smoked paprika. If I want to go crazy with the complexity of flavours, I’ll finish it off with a sprinkling of sea salt before serving to create a sweet-salty-savoury mouthful, slightly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside – the perfect accompaniment to pulled pork and coleslaw.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Baked sweet potato wedges
1kg sweet potatoes, cut into wedges
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp brown or muscovado sugar
1 tsp smoked paprika

Toss the wedges in the oil, sugar and paprika.

Bake the wedges at 200C for 45 minutes-1 hour, until golden and the edges turn crisp.