Wolfgang Puck

I have encouraging news for those who've sworn to lose weight. Healthy meals featuring bold flavors can be some of your biggest diet resources.

It makes good sense every step of the way.

First, of course, start with nutritious, healthful ingredients, like seafood. Many studies have shown that fish is an outstanding source of protein, and generally lower in fat than that from other animal sources. In addition, oily-fleshed cold-water fish -- such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines -- are rich in the so-called omega-3 fatty acids, which been found to play a beneficial role in guarding against cardiovascular disease. Fortunately, these kinds of fish also have rich flavor that satisfies with every bite.

Next, make use of kitchen techniques that heighten flavor even more. In the recipe I share with you here, I make use of the bold yet subtle seasonings of the Indian kitchen. (You'll find all the seasonings I call for in a well-stocked supermarket, although a trip to an ethnic Indian market could also help.) And I marinate the featured ingredient, salmon, in a blend of seasonings commonly associated with the style of Indian cooking known as tandoori, a name taken from the intensely hot, bell-shaped clay ovens in which foods are quickly cooked, leaving them nicely browned on the outside and still juicy within.

That, of course, leads to the need for healthy cooking methods that do not introduce extra fat. Here, in place of a tandoori oven, I use a regular home oven preheated to a high temperature that cooks the marinated salmon quickly.

Smartly made sauces and accompaniments add even more satisfying punch to the final presentation. Here, I include a variation on raita, the seasoned yogurt sauce that accompanies so many Indian meals. Of course, many Indian restaurants use full-fat yogurt to make their raita; but I suggest using low-fat or nonfat yogurt instead. I also include quickly pickled cucumbers as another satisfying source of flavor, color, and crunch.

Not only is this Tandoori Salmon with Pickled Cucumbers recipe healthy and delicious, but it's also easy to prepare. Yes, the ingredients list may look lengthy, but most are pantry staples you can use again and again. And everything comes together very quickly, with much of the work done ahead and the final cooking taking no more than 20 minutes.

Start steaming a batch of brown rice -- also filling, flavorful, and packed with fiber and nutrients -- when you begin preheating the oven, and you'll have a complete and satisfying main course of the sort that will make it easier than ever for you to stick to your New Year's resolution.

Tandoori Salmon with Pickled Cucumbers

Serves 4

4 fillets fresh Alaskan salmon, about 6 ounces each, skinned


3/4 cup plain low-fat or nonfat yogurt

3/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon tamarind paste

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press


2 cups fresh cilantro leaves

1-1/2 cups fresh mint leaves

1 cup plain low-fat or nonfat yogurt

1/2 cup reduced-fat coconut milk

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon shredded coconut

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground fenugreek

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced


Freshly ground black pepper


4 long, slender organic Japanese cucumbers, peeled thinly sliced

1/2 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons plain low-fat or nonfat yogurt

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill

1/2 teaspoon whole caraway seeds, coarsely crushed


Freshly ground black pepper


3 organic scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces and sliced lengthwise into fine strips

1/8 teaspoon garam masala (Indian curry powder)

With clean fingertips, inspect the salmon fillets for any pin bones poking from their surface. Pull them out, using a pair of tweezers or pliers if necessary. Put the fillets in a flat, shallow, nonreactive dish large enough to hold them in a single layer.

In a mixing bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients, stirring thoroughly. Pour over the salmon fillets and turn to coat evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6 hours.

While the salmon is marinating, prepare the Cilantro-Mint-Coconut Raita and the Pickled Cucumbers.

For the raita, put all the ingredients in a food processor fitted with the stainless-steel blade. Pulse on and off until the herbs are coarsely chopped. Taste, adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper, and pulse again a few more times. Transfer to a nonreactive bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.

For the cucumbers, put the slices in a mixing bowl. Add the salt and toss well. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Drain well. In a separate bowl, stir together the yogurt, vinegar, sugar, dill, caraway seeds, and salt and pepper to taste. Add to the cucumbers, toss well, cover with plastic wrap, and marinate in the refrigerator until serving time.

To cook the salmon, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Meanwhile, line a baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Remove the salmon fillets from the marinade, placing them on the baking pan; reserving the marinade. Roast until the salmon is cooked through, flaking easily when probed with the tip of a sharp knife but still moist in the center, 15 to 20 minutes. Baste 2 or 3 times with the marinade, the final time about 5 minutes before the salmon is done; discard the remaining marinade.

To serve, spoon raita in the center of each serving plate. Spoon some cucumbers in the center of the raita. Place a salmon fillet on top. Garnish with some scallion and a light dusting of garam masala. Pass the remaining raita and cucumbers at the table.

Salmon, Tandoori Salmon, Salmon Main Course, Wolfgang Puck


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Tandoori Salmon with Pickled Cucumbers

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