Force of habit – it’s a terrible thing. We shop at the same stores, wear the same clothes, eat at the same restaurants, walk the same route to work… over and over and over again. It’s easy, it’s familiar and we are all guilty of it to some extent – you wake up on Monday morning, fall into your week’s routines and habits and before you can wipe your eyes it’s Friday and five days of your life are irretrievably gone – flown by without you noticing. But think about the last time you travelled to a new city by yourself; or went on a course with a room full of strangers – how did those days feel? Did they fly by or did it feel as if time had telescoped out to become much longer?
It’s not just your mind playing tricks on you. Well, in a way I guess it is. Here’s a simple experiment to show how your mind works: look into a mirror and stare intently into your right eye. Then, without blinking, move your gaze to your left eye. Do this a few times. Do you ever actually see your eyes move? Are there some blank frames in your vision as your eyes are in transit? No. The reason is because your mind knows what’s coming – it knows your eyeballs are going to move and where they are going to move to, and because this is familiar territory, it edits it into a very simple visual for you, skipping out the boring predictable bits. When your mind receives a lot of new information, it takes more time and energy to process it, making you more aware of passing time and therefore making time seem longer. When your mind receives familiar information, it expends less energy and time on processing it and the hours just seem to fly by. So how can we slow down our perception of time and make our stay here on Earth seem to last that little bit longer? By ditching habit or routine and trying or learning new things as often as possible. (You can read more on this fascinating topic here. ) I often make salmon for dinner – it’s affordable here in the UK, it’s quick to cook, it’s healthy and it’s tasty. But out of force of habit, nine times out of ten I will cook it in exactly the same way: basted in a mix of honey and soy sauce and then roasted. So when I recently received two truly gorgeous Norwegian salmon fillets, courtesy of The Norwegian Seafood Council, I decided to give myself a few extra minutes in the day and slow down time by preparing it in a different way.
The Norwegians are very proud of their sustainable ocean-farmed salmon, and rightly so. The baby fish spend approximately the first year of their life in the safety of a hatchery tank, until they have grown strong enough for a life at sea. They are then carefully transferred to spacious, protected ocean pens that allow them maximum freedom to grow and mature as nature intended, in the ice-cold waters of Norway. Because the fish live in ocean pens rather than a controlled environment, they are susceptible to the same diseases that affect the surrounding environment, but effective vaccination and better animal husbandry techniques have reduced the use of antibiotics in Norwegian salmon by 97% since 1990. To reduce the environmental impact of farmed salmon, Norwegian farmers are careful in their selection of the wild fish used to feed the farmed salmon. Norwegian feed producers demand that feed ingredients come from sources with scientifically regulated fishing quotas rather than unregulated and overexploited stocks, and contain species not suitable or in demand for human consumption. And the best news? This delicious fish, rich in marine omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, vitamin B12, iodine and selenium is harvested and available all year round (unlike deliciously seasonal Norwegian skrei cod).
So what did I do with my gorgeous marine bounty that I had not tried before? Inspiration came from Nick’s allotment (as it has so often this year!) when he arrived home with a giant bag of gorgeous beetroot, ready for roasting. Initially I thought of a dish of farro with beetroot, salmon, kale and spring onions, until I remembered that our utterly insane cat had leapt onto the counter, ripped open the sealed packet of uncooked farro and licked a few grains before scattering its contents all over my kitchen floor. So much for the farro. But I knew I could rely on my old friend Pille (Beet Queen!) to provide some sort of beetroot inspiration, and I was not wrong. I fell in love with her oven-baked salmon with beetroot - and I was not disappointed! It’s such a quick recipe to put together, making it perfect for a weeknight, but it’s pretty enough to serve to guests, especially if you can get hold of a side of salmon. As it was a bit of a spur of the moment decision, I had to use dried dill but it would be even more fabulous with lots of fresh dill.
DISCLOSURE: I received these salmon fillets as free samples from the Norwegian Seafood Council but was not required to write about them and received no further remuneration for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.
For more salmon recipes from the blogs, have a look at:
- Barbara’s salmon with a mustard and brown sugar glaze
- Miichelle’s teriyaki salmon with stir-fried noodles
- Meeta’s salmon kedgeree
- 1 medium beetroot, roasted or boiled
- 2 fresh salmon fillets
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp dried dill (or use fresh if you can)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- Pre-heat the oven to180C.
- Slice the beetroot very thinly.
- Brush the skin side of the fish lightly with olive oil and place skin side down in an oven-proof dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and half the dill.
- Cut each beetroot slice in half and then lay the slices all over the salmon like fish scales till the fish is totally covered.
- Sprinkle with olive oil and then with the rest of the dill. Cover with aluminium foil and bake for about 40 minutes or until fish is just cooked.
- Serve hot, with potato salad.