A poached salmon recipe from Golden Door Health Retreat

Golden Door Health Retreat in the Hunter Valley has a holistic approach to healing, and nourishing, fresh food plays a large role in their wellness philosophy. Grace Smith speaks to the company’s executive chef James Knight about the role clean eating plays in the equation and asks him to share one of his favourite recipes.

Poached salmon with fennel, orange, toasted almonds and chilli citrus salsa

Serves 6


  • 6 x 140g pieces skinless salmon
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 12 pitted green olives, sliced
  • 1 orange, skin and pith sliced off, flesh diced
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced finely, fronds included
  • A handful of mixed basil and parsley leaves, finely chopped (reserve a few for garnish)
  • ¼ cup toasted slivered almonds
  • 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp coconut nectar

To serve

Seasonal vegetables and crisp green salad


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Place the pieces of salmon on the lined tray, sprinkle with lemon zest and juice and a pinch of sea salt. Cover with baking paper and ‘poach’ in the oven for approximately 15 minutes until the fish is just cooked through. Do not overcook or the fish will be dry.

3. Place the olives, orange, fennel, herbs, almonds, chilli and lime zest into a bowl, and combine to create a salsa. In a jug, combine the lime juice, vinegar and coconut nectar. Pour lime and vinegar mixture into the salsa and season with salt.

4. Once the salmon is cooked, place salsa on top of fish and serve with seasonal vegetables and salad.


Q & A with James Knight, Executive Chef

Grace Smith: How would you describe the Golden Door food philosophy?

James Knight: Balanced! It’s really about getting back to basics: eating real food like seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and healthy fats. Our meat and seafood is sourced ethically and produced sustainably. We live in an age of excess, so it can be easy to fall into unhealthy eating habits. Our mission is to get people back into their kitchens at home preparing nourishing meals.

GS: What factors do you take into consideration when planning a new dish?

JK: Seasonality dictates the first stages; we then look at balance of nutrients across the dish and where in our menu it will be served. We have a set meal plan for the week, so we need to think about when we will serve it to ensure we keep a balanced menu for our guests. And lastly, presentation is really important to me – my training in fine dining still has me obsessing over the final look of a dish because health-inspired cooking should look amazing.

GS: Do you have any tips for making healthy meals at home?

JK: Firstly, don’t overthink it. Make realistic changes to your diet and don’t get caught up in all the hype around fad diets. Stock your fridge with good quality produce, and stay away from processed foods devoid of nutrients. A good way to get started with making changes to your diet and focussing on nutrition is to make Buddha bowls at home: build your vegie bowl up one ingredient at a time, considering each item and thinking about the balance of macronutrients. It’s a great stepping-stone to creating nourishing meals at home.

GS: What are the nutritional benefits of  the poached salmon with fennel?

JK: This recipe is fantastic for lunch or dinner. Poaching the fish makes it a really light and fresh dish. Salmon has a well-earned reputation for being a superfood of the sea; it’s really no surprise with its omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B and D, and many mineral benefits. Our guests know that fennel is one of my all-time favourite vegetables. To me, all wholefoods are superfoods, but fennel really is something special. It’s often overlooked, but it’s a great source of potassium, folate and dietary fibre.


With experience working with leading hospitality and entertainment brand Urban Purveyor Group and, more recently, Accor Hotels, James Knight moved to the Hunter Valley in 2016 to take up the position of executive chef at Golden Door Health Retreat & Spa, Elysia. His mission? To make the resort’s cuisine just as delicious as it is nutritious.


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Golden Door Elysia Health Retreat & Spa


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