This recipe for salmon with "saffron of the earth" (aka turmeric) shows how Brazilian cooks have successfully adapted recipes featuring saffron by substituting turmeric for that incredibly expensive spice. (read more about this here) Rice is combined with true saffron in the foods of many cultures. Examples are Indian biryani, Persian pilau, and Italy's risotto milanese. Here the rice is colored and flavored with turmeric instead.
Salmon is a popular fish these days in Brazil, but since it's a cold-water species, it is not caught locally. The salmon that is available in Brazil is normally farmed salmon from Chile, where there's a large aquaculture industry. Having just returned myself from the west coast of Canada, where they were enjoying the best sockeye salmon catch in a hundred years, I find farmed salmon a somewhat palid variation, but Brazilians do love it. I'm sure that this recipe would be marvelous with wild Atlantic or Pacific salmon.
RECIPE - Salmon with Turmeric Rice (Salmão com Arroz de Açafrão-da-terra)
For the rice:
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cups long-grain white rice
2 cups water
1.5 cup light chicken stock
1/2 tsp. turmeric
salt to taste
For the salmon:
1 medium salmon fillet, cut into 4 serving pieces
1/3cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2/3 cup white wine
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. Italian parsley, finely chopped
Make the rice: in a heavy, medium saucepan heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and fry until translucent but not browned. Add the rice (and a bit more oil if necessary) and cook for 1 or 2 minutes, until the rice is coated with oil and becoming transparent. Add the water, chicken stock and turmeric, adjusting salt if necessary. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover the pan and cook for 20 minutes, undisturbed. Remove from heat and let stand, without uncovering, for 10 minutes. Reserve.
Make the salmon: Heat a heavy non-stick frying pan or grill pan over medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil and cook the salmon, skin side down first, for about 5-7 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fish. Meanwhile, in a medium pan heat the remaining olive oil, and saute the onion and garlic until the onion is transparent but not browned. Add the white wine ,whipping cream, tomato paste and 1 Tbsp. parsley. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce has cooked down and thickened, approximately 5 minutes.
To serve: Pool some sauce on a plate, top with a salmon fillet, then drizzle additional sauce over. Add a mound of rice to the side of the fish, then sprinkle the additional chopped parsley over all. Serve immediately