Comments 6

My Culinary Adventures #6: Salmon with tomato and fennel sauce, squashed potatoes and asparagus

As you may have fathomed from some of my other “Recipes for Backpackers”, they may not necessarily be things you would actually make if you were staying in a hostel and living on a budget. You’ll probably buy a jar of tomato sauce for a few pence rather than buying all the ingredients to make it from scratch. Your hostel may not have a blender for you to use. 

This series did start off with things you may make as a backpacking hostel stayer. They were the meals I made when I was living off a university budget and trying to make ingredients stretch. Now I’m living in London on a marginally better budget so I’m getting more exotic. By my standards anyway. Perhaps this should instead be “Expat Meals”.

Having said that, when you’re out and about in lands unknown, you never know what yummy food market you may stumble across with tasty ingredients. Basically, this recipe is if you happen to find just that. And if you happen to find a Jamie Oliver recipe book right alongside them. I have to give him credit for the “squashed” potatoes and roasted asparagus.

Generally, I’m not much of a salmon person. Unless it’s smoked and alongside scrambled eggs or cream cheese and on a bagel. However, then I went to Oslo. Turns out they love their salmon over there. I therefore felt obliged to have some. The salmon I picked came alongside a fennel and tomato sauce. You may not think that goes together but it was actually amazing. I decided to give it ago. I had no idea what fennel actually was but I finally managed to hunt one down in Sainsburys.

Fennel has an aniseed-y taste, which I’m not usually a massive fan of. I therefore used my fennel cautiously (a bit less than the whole bulb) and ended up with a duller flavour than I would have liked. Perhaps fennel seeds would have worked better? I’ll let you know if I ever try it.

Ingredients (three servings)

  • 3 salmon fillets
  • 6-9 pieces of asparagus
  • 3 large-ish potatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • Ketchup
  • Tomato paste
  • Mixed herbs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Butter or margarine
  • Olive or sunflower oil
  • Lemon juice


  1. Heat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Slice and dice the fennel bulb and onion and then fry them, crushing in a peeled clove of garlic, until they are all browned and soft.
  3. Squeeze some tomato paste into the pan and stir it in so that the mixture is covered. Add in the chopped tomatoes, a few squirts of ketchup, a good pinch of mixed herbs and a few grinds of pepper.
  4. Pour some vegetable stock into the sauce. I didn’t use much but to be honest I have no idea how much I actually used. Lets say half a mug but more wouldn’t be a problem. Let the sauce simmer on a low heat, stirring at regular intervals. Add in some more ketchup if you fancy.
  5. Put each salmon fillet in a piece of tin foil and sprinkle on some salt and pepper and add a dollop of butter or margarine. Wrap the foil up, so you have some little salmon parcels, and then pop them in the oven for about 20-25 minutes.
  6. Chop up the potatoes, leaving the skins on, and add them to a pan of boiling water for about 15 minutes- or however long it takes for them to soften.
  7. Lay the asparagus out on a tray. Drizzle on some oil and lemon juice and sprinkle on some salt and pepper. When the salmon has been in for about 10 minutes, pop the tray in the oven to let the asparagus roast for about 15 minutes, or until it softens.
  8. Coat the bottom of a pan in some oil. Drain the potatoes and add them to the pan and drizzle some more oil over the top. Make sure they are all touching the pan and not stacked. Sprinkle over some mixed herbs and crush in three unpeeled cloves of garlic.
  9. Get a small pan lid and use it to push down on the potatoes, squashing them. Fry them for a few minutes so they start to brown and get a bit crispy, then toss, squash and fry on another side. They should turn out a bit like roast potatoes. And also delicious. Thanks Jamie.
  10. Take out the salmon and asparagus when they’re done. You should be able to flake the salmon with a fork and cut through the asparagus without it being tough. Serve with the potatoes and fennel and tomato sauce.


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