Last year, I was chatting with my local “poissonnière” (seafood seller) about recipes for fish and “Le Capitaine” (as she calls herself) gave me a wonderful recommendation for salmon marinated with fresh dill. So this year, I planted dill seeds in my herb garden and was elated as my “aneth” grew and grew. This past week, I followed her instructions for “Saumon mariné à l’ aneth” and was pleasantly pleased with the results. All the fish sellers in France love to share their recipes, and in turn, I am sharing this with you.
Dill is native to Russia, western Africa, and the Mediterranean region. It dates back to about 3,000 B.C,. when it was mentioned in the Egyptian medical texts. It was popular in Greek and Roman cultures, where it was considered a sign of wealth and good luck. Hippocrates, the “Father of Medicine,” wrote a recipe for cleaning the mouth by rinsing it with dill seed that had been boiled in white wine! Ancient soldiers would apply burnt dill seeds to their wounds to promote healing. During the Middle Ages dill was thought to have medicinal properties and was used against witchcraft. If someone thought a witch had cast a spell on them, they made a “special” drink which contained dill leaves to protect them from the spell.
Dill is a member of the parsley family and comes from the Old Norse word “dylla,” meaning to lull or soothe. It contains carvone, which has a calming effect and aids with digestion and relieving intestinal gas. The conqueror Charlemagne always had pots of dill tea available at dinner banquets to stop the hiccups of guests who had indulged too much.
Use fresh dill, whenever possible, for the most intense flavor. The leaves, flowers and seeds are all edible. If using dried dill, use generously (1 tbsp. fresh dill = 1 tsp. dried dill). Store fresh dill in the refrigerator in a glass of water, covered with a plastic bag. Use within one week. Select dill fronds that look feathery and very green in color. Dill enhances fish, shellfish, vegetables and dips. For a light dip combine plain yogurt, dill weed and chopped cucumbers.
But now, on to “Le Capitaine’s” recipe.
Saumon mariné à l’aneth
For 4 persons
Preparation time: 25 minutes
1 ½ lbs. thinly sliced (1/4”) fresh salmon filets
juice of one lemon and one lime
5 sprigs fresh dill weed
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Pour the lemon and lime juice on a platter. Place the salmon filets on top. (Turn over once while marinating.) Spread the dill leaves over the fish and drizzle with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes. Do not marinate longer as the fish will “overcook” in the citrus marinade.
April Paute moved to France over 10 years ago with her husband Jean Michel and 2 Siamese cats. Armed with only a dictionary and hand signals, she took on the challenge of requesting the local boucher decapitate a chicken for her. After living in Paris and Antibes, April & co. have settled in Toulouse, where she draws inspiration from her herb garden.