Food & Drink

James St Recipes: Niall McKenna's seared salmon and spiced lentils with rosemary, garlic and salt polenta chips

Rosemary, garlic and salt polenta chips
Rosemary, garlic and salt polenta chips

Salmon is not only delicious but is also incredibly nutritious. It's rich in omega-3 fatty acids, high-quality protein and essential vitamins and minerals. It’s so versatile and can be paired with various vegetables to create a truly satisfying meal.

If you're looking for quick and easy weeknight dinner inspiration, try this seared salmon and spiced lentil dish. It is a quick and easily made recipe which is packed with nutrients and flavour.

The second recipe I am sharing this week is polenta chips. Made from grains, this northern Italian dish has a creamy consistency and a sweet taste.

Polenta chips are a tasty and simple alternative to traditional potato chips – they're crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and can be seasoned with various herbs and spices.

:: Would you like to take your cooking skills to the next level? Check out our cookery classes at The Waterman House Cookery School. It's a fantastic opportunity to learn new culinary techniques or have a fun night out with friends. More information at



(Serves 6)

For the lentils


100g puy lentils

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 clove of garlic, grated

25g fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1 large red chilli, deseeded and diced

1 onion, diced

3 cardamom pods, crushed

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground ginger

2 large plum tomatoes, chopped

350ml vegetable stock

1 tbsp crème fraiche

50g butter

Handful freshly picked coriander leaves, chopped.


For the lentils:

Place the lentils into a large saucepan, covering them with water. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for five minutes. Drain the lentils and put to the side. It should be noted that you don’t want the lentils fully cooked – just part-cooked.

Next, place the vegetable oil into a saucepan and bring to heat. Gently fry off the garlic, ginger, chilli and onions, keeping them on a medium heat for approximately 4-5 minutes, cooking until golden.

Then add in the dried spices and cook until they get fragrant.

Now it’s time to add in the part-cooked lentils. Make sure to stir the lentils well, coating them thoroughly with the spices.

Finally, turn the heat up, add in the tomatoes and stir with a spoon. Put in a new stock for more flavour and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.

At this point, give it a taste and check for seasoning and whether the lentils are cooked well enough. If they need a bit more time, keep on a simmer until they are soft.

For the salmon:

800g salmon fillets with the skin on

Salt and pepper

4 tbsp rapeseed oil


Preheat the oven to 200C.

Place a frying pan on the heat and add the oil, making sure the pan is nice and hot.

Season the salmon with salt and pepper.

Place the salmon skin side down. To ensure it’s nice and crispy, cook for 4 minutes, turn it over and repeat for a further 4 minutes.

Move the salmon from the pan onto a roasting tray with a baking sheet on. Pop into the oven and roast for 5-6 minutes.

Let the salmon rest and serve on the bed of lentils.


(Serves 4)


800ml milk

300g instant polenta, plus extra for dusting

1 clove garlic, peeled & chopped

½ red chili, deseeded & chopped

300ml vegetable oil

300ml olive oil

½ bunch rosemary, finely chopped


To begin, place the milk on the hob and bring to a simmer.

Then whisk in the polenta, garlic, chilli, salt and pepper. Cook through until the mixture is thick and smooth.

Oil a roasting tray, adding on the mixture. Place in the fridge until the mix is firm.

Place the oil in a heavy bottomed pot and bring to 180C. Cut the polenta into large chip sizes. With a handful of polenta flour, dust the chips and then place in the pot and fry until golden. Once golden, remove and dry off using kitchen roll.

When cooked, place the chopped rosemary in a bowl with a good milling of sea salt and sprinkle over the fried polenta, ready to serve.

:: Waterman House Cookery School, Waterman House, 5-23 Hill Street, Belfast BT1 2LA

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