Spicy salmon fillets with fresh herb salsa

20080626 SpicySalmonTitleAs we all know by now, women are from Venus and men are from Mars, and I very much doubt that anybody who is married will dispute this.

On Mars, apparently, technology is far more advanced than it is here on Earth.  This high-tech environment extends even to the smallest room in the house, where used cardboard toilet rolls are automatically removed from the spool in the middle of the night without human intervention and teleported to the recycling bin.  Sadly, men's Martian DNA means that they retain a life-long inability to identify empty toilet rolls and give these unfamiliar items a wide berth.

Similarly, the advanced technology on Mars means that towels are unnecessary – the Martians simply step into cubicles rather like full-body hairdryers and emerge seconds later, perfectly dry.  This has two consequences:  firstly, it means that the novelty of towels never quite wears off for them, and they are seized by a compulsion to gather and use as many as possible,  regardless of whether the towels belong to them or to their housemates.  In fact, in some expat Maritan communities, the number of damp, crumpled towels in a house is seen as an indicator of prosperity, and therefore a much sought-after status symbol. 

These cultural differences are also much in evidence in the kitchen.  I have heard many reports of the average male Martian cooking session dirtying 7.29  times as many cooking utensils as an equivalent session by their Venusian counterparts, and involving approximately 738% of an adult's Recommended Daily Allowance of saturated fat.

My own personal Martian remains true to his species in terms of the first two cultural quirks, but in terms of the third it seems that he displays some differences.  Not to say he is more like me – he just has different quirks to other Martians.  If I cook dinner, there will be some sort of protein, some sort of starch, and a lot of vegetables.  Yes, this will dirty more than one pot, but that's because it's in effect 3 different dishes (more often than not – I seldom master the art of one-pot cooking!).  And if we had chicken/fish/pasta/pork last night, I will make sure we have something different tonight.  Nick, on the other hand, will go to great lengths to make sure he uses as few pots as possible – if vegetables will dirty another pot, let's skip them!  And I do believe that, left to his own devices, he would eat the same thing every night:  pasta with chopped tomatoes, onions and garlic.  And maybe a braai or two when the weather is good…! But the biggest difference is the speed at which we produce meals. However I cut it, preparing dinner seems to take me at least an hour – but Nick transforms from lethargic sofa-surfing mode into Speedy Gonzales when he enters the kitchen!  I came home from a meeting after work the other night, tired, grumpy and hungry, at about 9pm and my heart sank when I saw that the oven was not even on yet. 

But my fears were ill-founded because half an hour later we sat down to these salmon fillets and their delicious herb salsa, together with sauteed zucchini with leeks!  It seems he had been surfing the net and defrosting the salmon, waiting to leap into action when I walked through the door :)  They have a warm, spicy flavour rather than a take-the-roof-off-your-mouth heat, and the crisply refreshing salsa is a perfect match.

What can I say – my Martian's a keeper :)          

 SPICY SALMON FILLETS WITH FRESH HERB SALSA (serves 2) (from the BBC Food website)


¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp ground paprika
¼ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp cumin seeds
300g salmon fillet, skin removed
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
handful each fresh chervil, coriander and flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
¼ onion, very finely chopped
¼ courgette, very finely chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
2. In a small bowl, mix the spices together, then sprinkle onto a plate.
3. Press the salmon into the spices to coat well.
4. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a small ovenproof frying pan and fry the salmon on both sides until golden-brown.
5. Transfer the ovenproof frying pan to the oven and cook for a further 4-5 minutes, or until cooked through.
6. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining olive oil, white wine vinegar and Dijon mustard until thick and creamy.
7. Add the chopped herbs, onion and courgette to the mustard mixture and mix well.
8. To serve, place the salmon in the centre of a serving plate and spoon the herb salsa around the edge.

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  1. Zoe says

    What you said about the length of time to cook a meal made me laugh – we have the same problem in reverse! Sometimes I’ll come into the kitchen and my boyfriend will be beginning to chop something, say some cloves of garlic. I’ll come in 15 minutes later and he’ll still be there…slooooooowly shaving off the thinnest ever slices of garlic, total concentration, brow furrowed. I have to bite my tongue to prevent myself from saying something like “You know you can just smash it with the side of a knife…” I’ve really had to restrain myself from being the alpha cook constantly trying to show him how it “ought” to be done, but he is so goddamn slow that sometimes we’ve sat down to simple pasta at 9pm after a 2 hour wait. Even when I gave him Nigel Slater’s “Real Fast Food” (nothing over 30 minutes) he manages to string it out to at least an hour. I suppose it’s my own fault for weaning him off Tesco microwave curries which was his exclusive diet before we met.

  2. says

    Do you know the book: Why Men Don’t Listen & Women Can’t Read Maps, Allan and Barbara Peace, it’s similar!! it’s all real!!! I found your blog and I like it!!!

  3. says

    My Martian identifies the empty toilet roll, but misses the bin to throw it in, he then just leaves it there on the floor. But he makes a mean paste dish and fish!!!! He catches the fish,cut fillets and cook them to perfection and after that, who cares about the dirty dishes. The salmon looks delicious though.

  4. herschelian says

    Are you sure he’s a Martian? he could be from Saturn – I’m told they are whizzo in the kitchen.

  5. says

    I would live with the toilet rolls and towels if dinner was on the table within half an hour of me walking thru the door. Oh wait, I do live with the toilet rolls and towels, for a minute I had thought you were writing about Somerset, not Mars. And the only way dinner is ever on the table within half an hour in my house is if I am cooking it – so yes! your martian is a keeper!! Hope you’re having a good holiday!

  6. says

    He’s definitely a keeper! I’ve got a Martian who hangs all the towels nicely (I’m the buncher) but won’t eat fish. He does make a mean Fry’s soya burger (with chutney fried onions) though. So on average… mine’s a keeper too 😉

  7. says

    Martians; you can live with them, you can’t live without them. :) Your martian sounds adorable and cooks a delicious looking salmon. Definitely a keeper.

  8. says

    OMG LOL Jeanne, I had to read your martian towel behaviour description out loud to Tom, while we both rolled around laughing! I am constantly making alarmed cries of “That’s MY towel!!” while he heads into the shower, to which he replies “but all those other ones are wet!” (referring to the 3-4 soggy ones he currently has on the go).
    and Zoe’s description above of finely shaving garlic is too familiar.. but then I have to insist on the importance of measuring things like yeast and flour for pizza dough, or baking powder for cake! LOL

  9. says

    Sorina – As they say in the Nike ads, just do it! You won’t regret it…
    Zoe – LOL! So funny to hear other people’s kitchen experiences are largely parallel to your own, even if the gender roles do swap around. I’m definitely more from the “paper-thin shavings of garlic” school of thought whereas Nick is the opposite. Well, they say opposites attract…
    Ivana – thanks for stopping by my blog and glad you enjoyed it! The book sounds excellent, especialyl since my husband believes that his crowning achievement after nearly 9 years of marriage is that he has “taught me” how to read a map – LOL!!
    Peter and Rethabile – the flavours are indeed perfect in this dish (neither too spicy nor too bland) and it’s pretty when plated – a winner all round!
    Anne – and to think some people say Martians an’t be trained… 😉 Seriously though, I think mine came with natural talent!
    Nina – don’t get me started at the invisible 30cm zone around any rubbish bin… Clearly the expression “a miss is as good as a mile” has NOT yet reached Mars. My Martian is happy to leave loo rolls, used contact lenses and tissues on the floor till judgement day, provided they lie within 30 cm of the bin. Apparently, that’s good enough! But as you say, they have other redeeming features…
    Herschelian – oh dear, all I’m thinking of is bad bad jokes using the planet Uranus as a punchline :o) LOL!
    African Vanielje – LOL! Show me the married woman who does not live with the loo rolls and the towels and I will show you somebody who married a gay man 😉 Very intresting how each couple definitely consists of a fast cook and a slow cook (just like they also contain a corpse-sleeper and a duvet-cruncher!)
    Michelle – a rare Martian towel-folder!! Woo hoo! Definitely a keeper… 😉
    Pamela – thanks! Hope you get to make it as it’s really worthwhile :)
    Dragon – tell me about it… but then just when you want to whack them over the head and bury them in a shallow grave, they come up with something like this meal and you forgive them :o)
    Cookinpanda – that’s exactly what I felt. I’ve been making grilled salmon with soy sauce and honey for an eternity, but now I’ve started experimentng again.
    Zoe/Puku – glad Tom saw the funny side! I realised the battle was lost, when, not long after we were married, my mom told me that she had after 30 years of marriage bought herself some blue towels and my dad some bright striped towels. EVen though she always wanted everything to match, she had finally given up and bought totally different looking sets of towels to try and keep her stash of towels saparate (and dry!!)