Salmon Tandoori

Makes 4 servings
Time: 15 minutes plus marinating time

Kerry says that this is a dish that tries to "recreate the vibe of the tandoor." To replicate the clay oven's intensely high, dry, and direct heat, he uses a scorching hot skillet.

In a gracious and unchefly concession, Kerry allows that you can use store-bought tandoori paste instead of preparing your own blend of garlic, ginger, onion, oil, cumin, paprika, coriander, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, turmeric, black pepper, tomato puree, and tamarind paste, like they do at Simon Kitchen & Bar in Las Vegas. (The length of the ingredient list alone makes me cringe.)

This recipe is lovely, with bright and contrasting colors, especially when served with Fresh Mango Chutney, and Red (or Yellow) Pepper Oil (recipe follows). You can serve it with any and all of these things, or with a simple salad; you can even grill the fish over hot coals on a lightly oiled grill. Look for the tandoori paste and the pappadum (lentil crispbreads) in Indian markets.

4 ounces Patak's Tandoori Paste
1/4 cup low-fat yogurt
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
1 or 2 pappadum, lightly toasted and broken into quarters
Sprigs of fresh cilantro, for garnish
Red (or Yellow) Pepper Oil (recipe follows), for drizzling (optional)

1. Stir the yogurt and tandoori paste together and slather each of the salmon fillets with some of the mixture. Marinate the salmon, refrigerated, for at least 8 hours or, preferably, overnight.

2. Preheat a dry non-stick pan or well-seasoned skillet over high heat for 2 minutes or so, or until the pan is searing hot. Wipe off any excess (but not all) marinade from the salmon fillets and add them to the pan skin sides down. The skin sides should color and get crisp in about 2 minutes; flip the salmon over and cook it 2 to 3 minutes more, until just medium-rare.

3. Serve the salmon, if you like, over 1/2 cup Black Bean Salad, then top each portion with a spoonful of Fresh Mango Chutney, a piece of the pappadum, and a sprig of cilantro. Dress the plate with a swirl of the pepper oil if you're using it.

Red (or Yellow) Pepper Oil

Makes: about 1/4 cup
Time: 10 minutes

Kerry Simon served this with his Salmon Tandoori (opposite), garnishing the dish with rings of red and yellow pepper oils. You can use this to decorate (and add flavor to) almost any strong-flavored dish you like, especially meat, poultry, or meaty fish like salmon. Pepper oil will keep for up to a week, covered and refrigerated.

1 red or yellow bell pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil

1. Put the pepper through a juicer, then put the juice in a deep, heavybottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil the juice until it reduces to the thickness of a glaze, about 20 minutes.

2. Add the oil and use an immersion or standard blender to combine until the sauce is emulsified. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.