Salmon pollitchattu

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This parcel of fish coated in a tangy marinade of tamarind, shallots and tomatoes hails from Kerala and it is one of best ways to eat salmon I know of. Banana leaves can be found in freezers in Asian supermarkets, or else foil works just as well. [This recipe was originally written for Borough Market’s Market Life Magazine http://boroughmarket.org.uk/recipes/salmon-pollichattu] 

Serves 4 – 6

  • 1 packet of frozen banana leaves
  • Kitchen string
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 20 curry leaves
  • 6 big banana shallots, thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3cm ginger, peeled and grated
  • 4 green finger chillies, finely chopped (3 if you’d prefer less heat)
  • 400 juicy vine tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 6 salmon fillets, skinned

Defrost the banana leaves and rub them down with a clean wet cloth. Soak the string in water until needed.

Heat the coconut oil in a large lidded frying pan over a medium heat and when hot add the curry leaves. Leave them to crisp for 1 min then add the shallots. Cook for around 10 mins until browning and golden, then add the garlic, ginger and chillies.

Cook for 3 mins until the raw smell disappears then add the tomatoes, tamarind, turmeric and salt and cook until the tomatoes soften and become a little jammy. Take off the heat.

Lay the banana leaf down and a fillet of salmon on top. Place 2 tbsp of the marinade on the salmon and wrap the banana leaf around it like a present, then secure with string.

To cook, heat up a grill pan or a barbecue until hot and grill for 4 mins on each side for a thin fillet (up to 2cm) and 5 mins on each side for a thicker one (up to 3cm).

ALTERNATIVE: If you’re not able to find frozen banana leaves, foil works just as well.

Photo credit: John Holdship for Borough Market