Crisp-Skinned Salmon with Quinoa-Stuffed Zucchini

Chileans eat a lot of cochayuyo, a kelp found on rocks. They use it for cooking and add it to stir fries or rice dishes. It is full of health-improving vitamins and minerals. We cannot get it here so to mimic the taste but not the texture of cochayuyo I used another form of kelp, Japanese Kombu. You can omit this step and just cook the quinoa in water but the kelp does add a layer of umami taste. The salmon skin is considered a delicacy and to crisp it I removed it from the salmon and baked it separately. The crunchiness is delightful with the rest of the dish. Merquén, a type of smoked chili pepper that is a traditional Chilean condiment, is also unavailable here so I substituted smoked sweet Spanish paprika mixed with ground coriander.


6 2-inch (5-cm) pieces of Kombu
1 cup (250 mL) quinoa
3 tbsp (45 mL) vegetable oil
2 medium zucchini, green or yellow
1/3 cup (80 mL) crumbled goat cheese
1 tsp (5 mL) smoked sweet Spanish paprika
1 tsp (5 mL) ground coriander
1/3 cup (80 mL) finely chopped green onion
¾ cup (175 mL) seeded, finely chopped fresh tomatoes
¼ cup (60 mL) whipping cream
1 tbsp (15 mL) finely chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 6-oz (175 g) pieces salmon


  1. Cut slits into Kombu and place in a pot with 2 cups (500 mL) water. Let soak for 30 minutes. Turn on high heat. Just before water comes to a boil remove Kombu to prevent it from becoming bitter. When water boils add quinoa. Cover, reduce heat and simmer gently for 11 to 12 minutes or until just tender. Drain any excess liquid. Reserve. 
  2. Slice zucchini into ¾-inch (2-cm) rounds. Scoop out the centre of each zucchini using a small spoon to form a deep cup. Reserve the pulp
  3. Preheat oven to 450 F (230 C). 
  4. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil, then add zucchini cups. Cook 2 minutes per side, or until golden and crisp-tender. Remove skillet from heat, transfer zucchini to a plate and sprinkle goat cheese into cups. Reserve. 
  5. Combine paprika and coriander in a small bowl. Reserve.
  6. Return skillet to heat and add green onions. Sauté for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, zucchini pulp and ½ tsp (2 mL) spice mixture and sauté another 2 minutes. The tomatoes should be softened. Stir in quinoa and cream and cook until cream is absorbed.  Stir in parsley and season well with salt and pepper.
  7. Lightly oil a heavy baking sheet and place on the middle rack of your oven to heat for 5 minutes. 
  8. Pat salmon dry and use the back of a heavy chef’s knife to scrape away any liquid from the salmon skin. Season salmon with salt, then sprinkle with remaining spice mixture.
  9. Heat a large non-stick skillet over high heat until very hot. Add remaining vegetable oil and swirl to coat. Working in batches if necessary, lay salmon in pan, skin-side down and sear for 1 minute. Turn over and sear for 1 more minute on flesh side. Remove to a plate skin-side up. With a small sharp knife, release the skin from the salmon and remove. Immediately add salmon, salmon skin and zucchini cups to heated baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes or until salmon is just pink in the middle and the skin is crisp.
  10.  Reheat quinoa mixture. Place salmon on 4 serving plates. Add three rounds of zucchini to each plate and fill with quinoa mixture, scattering some mixture around the plate. Top with the crisp skin. 
Serves 4