Farmersgirl Kitchen

Pan Fried Salmon and a Syrian Potato Salad

So, apparently, Spring is here! Here in Scotland it still feels like winter with rain, wind and even some flurries of snow further north. We did have a few days of more spring -like weather and I wanted to make something fresh and light.
The salmon fillets were simply seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper and pan fried skin side down first until the salmon goes opaque about 2/3 of the way up the side of the fish. Then turn over and cook for a couple of minutes on the other side.
Syria is not a country I know much about and I wasn’t aware that it also had its own cuisine. The book, Almond Bar, is named for the restaurant in Sydney, started by Sharon Salloum and her sister, Carol, to bring to life their mother’s love of food. Sharon feared she might not be able to emulate the passion her mother puts into food but, after much blood, sweat and tears, she likes to believe that she has done her parents and family proud.
Almond Bar starts with a look into The Syrian Pantry, some ingredients are familiar, like chickpeas, Bulgar wheat and Haloumi. Others such as Baladieh, a semi-soft cheese, Freekeh, a green dried wheat grain and grey courgettes. There are also a couple of pages of Middle Eastern Food Suppliers to ensure you can make the recipes in the book.
Spice Blends are crucial to capturing Middle Eastern flavours and there are the instructions for four different blends. We then move on to a chapter of Sauces and Dips, I liked the Smoked Aubergine Dip, Mint and Walnut Sauce, a vibrant Beetroot Dip and the classic Labne, a dried yoghurt dip.
Finger food is a speciality of The Almond Bar and this chapter if full of tempting bites from Za’atar Pizzas to Scallops and Basturma Drizzled with Pomegranate Butter.
Learn how to make Arish Cheese and Shanklish in a step by step guide.
I think the Sharing Platters look amazing and are one of my favourite ways of eating. There were some delicious recipes like Lemony Lentil Soup, Crushed Chickpeas with Yoghurt Almonds and Pine nuts, Za’atar Prawns with Pumpkin Mash and a step by step photo guide to making Falafel.
On to Salads and Sides including one of my favourite salads, Fatoush or Toasted Bread Salad, Tabouli, Haloumi, Lentil and Watercress Salad and Salatet batata– a Syrian Potato Salad which Sharon’s mother’s recipe, a light fresh, well balanced salad.
Salatet batata (Potato Salad) serves 4
4 main crop or Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1.5cm cubes
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 brown onion, thinly sliced
Large handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Small handful of mint, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp salt flakes
1 tsp sweet paprika
60ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
60ml (1/4 cup) lemon juice

Rinse the potato cubes to remove any excess start, then place in a medium saucepan  and cover with enough cold water to come 2cm (3/4in) above the level of the potato.  Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 min until tender but not soft enough to fall apart.  Drain and leave to cool to room temperature.
To make the dressing, place all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix together well.
Combine the potato, tomato, onion, parsley and mint in a bowl, pour over the dressing and gently toss to coat. This salad is best served while the potato is still lukewarm bu it can be made ahead of time, refrigerated and served cold as well. 

We are not finished with Almond Bar by any means, it’s time for the ‘Mains’.  There are some really luscious dishes such as Middle Eastern Lamb Dumplings, Stuffed Small Aubergines, Minced Lamb, Parsley and Onion Skewers, Chilli Fish, Spaghetti Cooked in Milk and Cannellini Bean, Tomato and Beef Stew to name just a few.

Syrian Desserts bring a delicious Middle Eastern twist to the usual favourites,  I was taken with Rosewater Ice-cream, Fig Sorbet, Sweet Semolina and Coconut Slice, Turkish Delight with Pistachio and a number of recipes using ‘Middle Eastern Clotted Cream’.

Who is it for?
This is a book for the adventurous cook, someone who likes big flavours and likes to create food for sharing.

This is a beautiful book, the photographs, the styling and the graphics are stunning. There are over 100 classic and contemporary recipes with many suitable for vegetarians and plenty for meat eaters too. I loved the huge variety of small dishes in the sauces and dips section, finger food, shared plates, salads and sides.  These reflect the Middle Eastern way of eating, the importance of celebrating food and sharing.

Some of the ingredients could be a little difficult to source, most of the suppliers are in London and the South East although there are some online suppliers.

The Verdict

This is an excellent book to add to your collection, even if you already own some books of Middle Eastern cookery.  I will definitely be returning to make more of the recipes.

Book: Almond Bar
Author: Sharon Salloum
ISBN: 978-1-909342-57-6
Published by Jacqui Small Publishing
Cover: Hardback
RRP: £25.99

Many thanks to Jacqui Small Publishing for providing me with a copy of Almond Bar, I was not paid for this review and all opinions are my own.


I’m entering this meal for three blog challenges:  Family Foodies challenge for March is Fab Fast Food and this was a quick meal to make. Family Foodies is run by Vanesther at Bangers and Mash and Lou at Eat your Veg.  The ‘Salatet batata’ is ideal for No Croutons Required, the vegetarian soup and salad challenge run by Lisa of Lisa’s Kitchen and Jac of Tinned Tomatoes.  Lou at Eat Your Veg is also hosting Four Seasons Food for Spring with the theme of ‘Something Fishy’, Four Seasons Food is alternately hosted by Anneli at Delicieux.


  1. Leave a Reply

    Sylvia F.
    March 22, 2014

    I'm no the biggest fan of salmon (but I love smoked one, wierd I know!) but it looks like worth trying, syrian potato salad must taste superb! Sounds like a great cookbook! I love Middle Easter cuisine, will look for it in the shops 🙂

    • Leave a Reply

      March 24, 2014

      You could use other fish, or not fish at all. The salad would go well with so many different recipes.

  2. Leave a Reply

    March 23, 2014

    It looks delicious and the book sounds like it had loads of recipes in I would love. I love all middle eastern flavours.

  3. Leave a Reply

    March 23, 2014

    Your salmon looks just beautifully cooked and the Syrian potato salad sounds like such a wonderful accompaniment – wonderfully fresh and tasty. A lovely entry for the Family Foodies Fab Fast Food challenge, thanks so much for taking part Janice.

  4. Leave a Reply

    March 23, 2014

    Love the sound of the Syrian salad. I adore pretty much all middle eastern foods (not too much meat though!) so my spice cupboard is full of most everything I need for it. Luckily I have a Turkish friend who keeps me week-supplied. Scotland ain't the best place to get the most specialised ingredients! Sunny here in Edinburgh. Hope it is for you too 🙂

    • Leave a Reply

      March 24, 2014

      Thanks Kellie, if you have problems sourcing ingredients in Edinburgh, then I have little chance! Thank goodness for online shopping.

  5. Leave a Reply

    belleau kitchen
    March 23, 2014

    oooh, the salmon looks so good, i've been eating a lot of salmon recently so this is nice to have an alternative way to cook it… I am also so lazy when it comes to salads like this so again, it's nice to have a simple recipe to spice up the humble potato x

    • Leave a Reply

      March 24, 2014

      Thanks Dom, it was a nice fillet of salmon and cooked well in the pan. Normally I would cook it in the oven but I don't have one just now!

  6. Leave a Reply

    London Unattached
    March 23, 2014

    That does all look very good! And the potato salad is amazing – completely different to anything I've seen before

    • Leave a Reply

      March 24, 2014

      Oh wow, then you really know about this type of food. Thanks for your kind comment.

  7. Leave a Reply

    Marmaduke Scarlet
    March 24, 2014

    I am reading this sitting at my study window – the back garden is bright with early morning sunshine and after reading this lovely post I think I can taste spring! Love your review, I think there is now room on my bookshelves for another middle eastern cookbook 🙂

  8. Leave a Reply

    Christian Halfmann
    March 24, 2014

    The salmon with the salad on the side looks very fresh and delicious. For sure something I would like to try the next time I am having some salmon. I would also say the book is for me, since (obvious) I love to try things from all over the place and I haven' checked in into Syria yet. So the least I could do, is bookmark this.

    • Leave a Reply

      March 24, 2014

      Thanks Chris. Oh yes, I'll be able to take part if you 'choose' Syria for Cooking around the World. I also have Anise Helou's Lebanese cookbook, love those middle eastern flavours.

  9. Leave a Reply

    Tina Anand
    March 24, 2014

    What a beautiful flavourful supper. I like all the spices and herbs in this dish.

  10. Leave a Reply

    Jane Sarchet
    March 24, 2014

    Lovely review Janice, I love learning about new (to me) styles of cooking so really enjoyed it.
    Janie x

  11. Leave a Reply

    March 24, 2014

    How strange, I picked this book up just this morning. I thought it looked very interesting and had some original innovative recipes. GG

  12. Leave a Reply

    Lou, Eat Your Veg
    March 25, 2014

    Great review Janice, sounds like a lovely book. And a lovely salad recipe, a great idea to perk up a meal with a bit of flavour and colour. Thanks for linking up to Family Foodies and Four Seasons Food 🙂

    • Leave a Reply

      March 26, 2014

      Thanks Lou. I love a new cookbook to review and the potato salad was really good.

    • Leave a Reply

      March 26, 2014

      Thanks Dannii, I tend to eat more salmon in the spring and summer than in winter.

  13. Leave a Reply

    Karen S Booth
    March 27, 2014

    I saw that potato salad recipe when I was looking through my copy of the book and it was bookmarked straight away! LOVE the look of the salmon too, I am a fish fanatic as you know!

  14. Leave a Reply

    March 28, 2014

    I didn't know you could get Syrian cookbooks. This looks lovely

  15. Leave a Reply

    Milk and Honey
    May 7, 2015

    Yum. I love potatoes, but I do find some potato salad a bit to mayo-heavy. I'm loving that this one has an oil and lemon juice based dressing. I saw your link on Carole's Chatter

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge

%d bloggers like this: