In 2016, my now husband and I hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru. I was quite apprehensive before hand about what the food would be like whilst on the trail. I wasn’t going to get through 4 days of hiking and camping in the Andes without sufficient sustenance, and I wasn’t sure how well they could accommodate a pescatarian in a country who’s national dish was fried Guinea Pig! The day before we set off on the trail, a guide came to see us to check we had everything we needed, and when he asked about dietary requirements, he didn’t fill me with confidence. The conversation went like this:
Me “I don’t eat meat”
Him “No meat?”
Me “No, none.”
Him “What about chicken?”
I decided that I would just have to suck it up and eat what I was given. I could manage for 4 days not asking any questions and hoping for the best. Eating meat from mystery sources goes against my morals, but it wasn’t going to kill me. However, the food I consumed out on the trail was the best food I ate during the entire holiday. They prepared special dishes for me of soup, pasta, grains, veg, omelettes and pastries all with a Peruvian twist and they were absolutely delicious! Amazing when you think that all the food and cooking equipment is carried on a Porter’s back through the mountains before they cook for you. I felt very looked after and not like a burden at all.
We both ate a lot of Quinoa on the trail, cooked in different ways and we loved it. I’d heard of it before the trip but had never eaten it and certainly never cooked with it. I bought a bag when we came home and it’s a staple in our cupboard now. This dish, although I use a mixture of grains, really shows it off. It’s healthy, tasty and easy and it goes VERY well with a cold glass of crisp white wine.
Ready in 30 mins (10 mins prep, 20 mins cooking) – Serves 1
- 1 boneless salmon fillet
- 1 teaspoon of dill
- 1 teaspoon of mint
- 1 teaspoon of basil
- 1 teaspoon of Thyme
- 1 teaspoon of rosemary
- 1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic crushed and chopped very finely
- The zest and juice of half an orange
- A small knob of butter
- 40g of quinoa or mixed grains (I used a mixed bag of Bulgur Wheat, Cracked Soya and Quinoa from the whole food section of the local supermarket. look for ones that you don’t need to soak)
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 80g broccoli cut into florets, then each floret sliced in half or quarters depending in the size (no need to cook first) – Pic 1
- 1 large chestnut mushroom diced
- Half a yellow pepper sliced then cut in half
- A dash of Worcester Sauce
- 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
- 1 spring onion sliced
- 25g of finely chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 200c / 180c fan / gas mark 6.
- Place salmon fillet on a large sheet of baking foil on a baking tray and put half the herbs, half the garlic, half the orange juice, half the olive oil, all of the orange zest and the knob of butter on top. – Pic 2
- Pinch the two longest sides of the foil together over the salmon and then fold the the shorter ends in on themselves to create a good seal around the fish, leaving plenty of room inside the parcel for the steam to circulate. – Pic 3
- Put the baking tray with the fish parcel on, in the oven for 20 mins.
- Meanwhile, rinse your grains well with cold water and cook them according to the packet instructions (usually you boil them for 10 mins or so) with a crumbled up stock cube. – Pic 4
- While the fish and the grains are cooking, heat up a wok or large frying pan to a medium/high heat with the rest of the olive oil and garlic.
- When the garlic starts to sizzle, add the broccoli, mushroom and pepper and cook for 3 mins, stirring every so often so it doesn’t stick or burn. – Pic 5
- Drain the grains and add them to the pan, along with the rest of the herbs, orange juice, Worcester sauce and sesame oil. – Pic 6
- Cook for 2 mins, stirring regularly. If it starts to stick to the pan, turn the heat down or add a bit more oil.
- Just before serving, stir in the spring onions, then pour the mixture onto a plate, place the salmon on top (check it’s cooked all the way through first, cooking times depend on the size and thickness of the fillet) and then sprinkle the walnuts on top.
Note – If your fish is ready before the rest of the dish, keep it wrapped in the foil but take it out of the oven. The foil will keep it warm.
If the veg and grains are ready before the fish, decant into an oven proof dish and place in the bottom of the oven to keep warm. Add the spring onion and walnuts just before serving.