Salmon with mussels, fennel and saffron

Salmon with mussels, fennel and saffron

A la Grecque
Mark Roper

This dish was inspired by one I enjoyed many years ago, at a restaurant in New York. Although it wasn’t a Greek restaurant, it had a Greek name, Zoë (which means ‘life’). I don’t know if the restaurant still exists, but it lives on in my memory, and in my version of the dish.


Quantity Ingredient
400g mussels, scrubbed clean and beards removed
125ml white wine
80ml extra virgin olive oil
4 x 250g tasmanian salmon fillets
2 tablespoons butter
2 golden shallots, peeled and finely sliced
1/2 bulb fennel, finely sliced
20 strands saffron
250ml Fish stock
125ml mussel cooking liquid, reserved


  1. Put the mussels and white wine into a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Cook over a low–medium heat, shaking the pan gently from time to time. Check after 4 minutes and discard any mussels that haven’t opened. Tip into a colander and reserve the cooking liquid. Strain this liquid through a clean muslin cloth to remove any sand or grit. Set the mussels aside.
  2. Reserve about 12 mussels to serve in their shells as garnish. Remove the mussel meat from the remaining shells.
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan. Fry the salmon over a fairly high heat for about 4 minutes on each side, or until golden on the outside but still rare inside. Carefully transfer the salmon to a plate.
  4. Lower the heat and add the butter to the pan. Sauté the shallots and fennel for a few minutes until the fennel is soft. Add the saffron, fish stock and reserved mussel cooking liquid. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.
  5. Return the salmon to the pan together with the reserved mussel meat. Cook for a few minutes until just warmed through. Be careful not to overcook or the mussels will be rubbery. The salmon should be no more than medium-rare.
  6. Serve in shallow bowls, distributing the mussels evenly around each piece of salmon. Garnish with the reserved mussels in their shells and ladle on the hot cooking liquid.
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