Grilled salmon with harissa on cauliflower ‘couscous’


This quick, easy and extremely tasty recipe for grilled salmon with harissa and cauliflower couscous has now become a regular feature in my house. I love that on a busy weeknight I can knock up a healthy restaurant-quality meal in minutes It’s also low in carbs if you are that way inclined. It comes close to, or even takes over from my other favourite way of grilling salmon – with a miso and honey glaze.

Now I have been banging on about cauliflower ‘couscous’ since I made it back in June 2012 – and I will not be lying if I said I can easily eat a whole head of cauliflower in one sitting. I have played around with adding a variety of different flavourings to it, and in this recipe, which goes particularly well with the harissa salmon, I have added preserved lemon, cilantro and chilli.

I used preserved lemons that are about 3 years old. They are dark, gooey and very fragrant, it’s hard to imagine that I lived without this delicious ingredient in the past. I have recently made another huge jar to ensure that I keep a rolling stock of this.

I have never written a blog post about how to make preserved lemon, but it could not be easier. Simply take a large sterile jar, one with a large opening. Cut a cross in the top of upright lemons and slice all the way down to the bottom, keeping the lemon intact. It will have 4 wedges facing up. Stuff as much salt as you can into the cavity of each lemon and place them in the jar. Repeat this squashing as many lemons into the jar as you can fit adding a little extra salt along the way. I like to use sea salt and have a stock of smoked Khoisan fleur de del. I add a couple of bay leaves to the jars as well as a few mustard seeds. When you have added as many lemons as you can fit in the jar, press down to release some of the juice, seal and leave. In a day or two, the lemons will have given off enough juice to cover them with liquid. If this has not happened open the jar every few days and squeeze down until it has. You then just leave this for a few months/years. The longer you leave it the softer and gooier they become.  It is not necessary to store it in the fridge.

You can check out how to make the cauliflower ‘couscous’ here, but the important thing to remember is when you are grinding it up in your food processor, you do it in small batches. Half a small head at a time. I also cut the cauliflower into chunks more or less the same size before blitzing them. This helps ensure that the flesh is ground up into similar-sized ‘grains’.

Have all your flavourings ready before you start cooking the cauliflower, it goes very quickly. Here I used about 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro/coriander, a good pinch or two of dried chilli flakes, a teaspoon of cumin, 2 tablespoons of finely chopped (minced) preserved lemon, salt and pepper. Test and taste along the way adjusting the seeing to your preference.

If you are making a large head of cauliflower you will want to cook it in two batches to ensure that the ‘couscous’ remains fluffy and not overcooked. I also spread it out on a large plate to cool it down immediately after cooking. This prevents carry-over cooking and lets off steam.

Harissa is a spicy red pepper confit, and I used the Terra Madre brand. Made by hand with love on an Elgin farm, it is the tastiest harrisa I have found. If you are in Cape Town, Giovanni’s stocks it. It is slightly sweet, not too hot, and packed with flavour. Sadly not all harissa is as delicious, but find one that you enjoy.

Spread a generous layer of harissa over your salmon fillet and grill or roast for 10 – 15 minutes until cooked to your preference. I like it when it’s only just cooked through but still very moist, and just starting to flake.


I look forward to connecting with you again in the future.

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  1. This looks incredible and pretty easy for a weeknight meal, especially if you pre-blitzed the cauli. You’ve inspired me to make my own preserved lemons now too, just wish I had some proper home grown lemons, as opposed to buying from the greengrocer.

  2. I have been looking for ways to use up preserved lemons as I made 5 jars about 2 months ago. This looks fabulous, will try this combination of ingredients.

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