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Eric Akis: Beat the summer heat with this cool salmon dish

Chilled salmon is served with a tangy-sweet chutney yogurt sauce and a curried rice salad — a perfect meal to make in advance when it's hot out.
This chilled salmon is served with a tangy-sweet chutney yogurt sauce and a curried rice salad. ERIC AKIS

When it’s hot and you are having folks over for lunch or dinner, keep your cool by preparing the meal in advance and serving it cold. That’s the approach I took with today’s recipes.

The fish recipe involves baking two citrus- and spice-flavoured sides of sockeye salmon. You then cool, refrigerate and chill the salmon until ready to serve with its appealing chutney yogurt sauce.

The sides of sockeye I saw for sale weighed around 500 to 600 grams. So, in my estimation, two in that range would yield six to eight servings, depending on appetite.

For my salad recipe, I cooked and spiced rice with curry powder, giving it a golden hue and lovely aroma. It was then cooled and tossed with a tasty mix of other ingredients, creating a nice side dish for the salmon.

If serving a smaller group, you could half the recipe for the salmon and serve one side of it. You could also half the salad recipe.

To finish of this summer meal, serve the salmon and rice salad with something green, perhaps a green salad, or a green bean salad.

Baked Chilled Sides of Salmon with Chutney Yogurt Sauce

Citrus- and spice-flavoured salmon, baked, chilled and served with a mango chutney-flavoured sauce.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 15 to 20 minutes

Makes: six to eight servings

2 (about 500 to 600 grams each) sides of sockeye or other salmon (see Eric’s options)

2 Tbsp lime juice (divided)

1 Tbsp orange juice

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp garlic powder

• salt and ground white pepper, to taste

1 cup thick plain yogurt

1/4 cup mango chutney (not the chunky type; see Note)

• lime slices, mint sprigs and/or edible flowers, such as nasturtiums, for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a large, 18- x 13-inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Set each side of salmon, skin-side-down, in a single layer on the baking sheet. Combine 1 Tbsp lime juice, orange juice, oil, paprika, cumin, onion powder and garlic powder in a small bowl. Brush top of salmon with this mixture; season with salt and pepper. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until cooked (see Note). Cool salmon to room temperature, and then cover and refrigerate at least two hours.

While salmon chills, make sauce by combining yogurt, chutney and remaining 1 Tbsp lime juice in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

When ready to serve, carefully transfer sides of salmon to a very large serving platter, or two smaller ones. Garnish with lime slices, mint sprigs and/or edible flowers, and serve with the sauce.

Note: Salmon fillets vary in thickness, so when determining if cooked, remember that when it is, the fish will feel slightly firm. Too soft means it’s not cooked through, too firm and it’s overcooked. When cooked, a white protein may also seep out from the flakes of the fish. Mango chutney is sold in the Asian foods aisle of supermarkets. I used Sharwood’s brand.

Eric’s options: If you can’t find whole sides of salmon the size called for in the recipe, buy two 500 to 600 gram pieces of salmon fillet and cook them as described in the recipe.

Curry Rice Salad with Fruit, Almonds and Vegetables

Rice, cooked and infused with the taste and colour of curry powder, cooled and tossed with an inviting mix of other complementary ingredients.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: about 20 minutes

Makes: 8 to 10 servings

1 cup long grain white jasmine or basmati rice

1 1/2 cups cold water

1 1/2 tsp mild or medium curry powder

1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1/3 cup currants

1/3 cup unsweetened medium coconut flakes

1/2 cup orange juice

2 Tbsp lime juice

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

2 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger

1/3 cup grated carrot

1/3 cup finely diced red bell pepper

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint or cilantro

• salt and ground white pepper, to taste

Place rice, 1 1/2 cups cold water and curry powder in a medium pot, set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat to its lowest setting, and steam rice 15 minutes, or until tender. While rice cooks, place almonds in a skillet set over medium heat. Heat and stir almonds a few minutes, until lightly toasted. Remove from the heat.

When cooked, spread rice on a wide plate and cool to room temperature. While rice cools, set currants and coconut in a bowl and pour in 1 1/3 cups hot water. Let currants and coconut plump up in the water until rice has cooled.

When cooled, place rice in a salad bowl. Drain currants and coconut well, through a sieve, and then add them, the almonds and all remaining ingredients to the rice. Toss well to combine. Cover and refrigerate salad until ready to serve. It can be made many hours before needed.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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