Tuesday, 30 September 2008

RFJ: Sambuca Orange Salmon with Spelt Crackers

Last month Peter won the Royal Foodie Joust with his Halvas, and selected fennel, parsley and dairy for his three ingredients.

I loved Peter's choice - and it took me a while to choose what to make, but in the end I decided on an appetiser of home cured salmon, with crackers and a chunky fennel sauce.

The salmon I cured with orange juice, sambuca and ground fennel seeds. It was the first time I have done anything like this, and I was really impressed by how easy it was - not to mention how tasty the final product was! I used two skinless salmon fillets, that had been lightly smoked.

I served the salmon with spelt crackers topped with parsley salt, and a chunky sauce of fennel, orange zest and yogurt. I was a bit concerned about the yogurt sauce as I'm not a big fan of raw fennel. However, the orange zest tempered the anise beautifully - I was really happy with how the flavours came together.

Orange and Fennel Cured Salmon

Inspired by Pixen's recipe here.
  • 2 large fillets of lightly smoked salmon, skinned and deboned
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp coarse sea salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • A shot of Sambuca (or any other anise liquor)
  • 1 orange, halved
Prepare the Rub...
Dry toast the pepper and fennel for a couple of minutes - keep the pan moving, and turn the seeds into a mortar and pestle when they start to smell good!

Let cool for a couple of minutes.

Bash them up until pretty fine, then add the salt and sugar. Give it a bit of a bash - but don't obliterate the salt entirely - leave some bit chunky!

Prepare the Salmon...
Wash and dry your salmon thoroughly - removing any wee bones that are left in there.

Put the spice rub out onto a flat surface, and coat each fillet well. Give it a bit of a rub to get the flavours going!

In a bowl, mix any left over salt mix with the sambuca - and the same quantity of orange juice from one of the orange halves.

Lay one fillet out, and top with slices of orange from the other half orange. Lay the other fillet on top.

Place into a small food bag, and pour in the orange sambuca mix. Squish out excess air, and tie. Now tightly wrap in clingfilm, place in a bowl in case it leaks! And put something heavy on top. I used my mortar... or pestle... whichever part the base is anyway - it's one of those huge thai stone jobs, so pretty heavy!

Leave for at least 24 hours - I left mine for about 36, though I probably wouldn't recommend much more than 48.

Turn every 12 hours or so, replacing the weight when you do.

Remove from the food bag, and wash off the salt mix in cold water. Pat dry with paper towel and use a sharp knife to cut finely across the grain.

Parsley Salt

  • 5 tbsp coarse sea salt
  • small handful parsley leaves
  • 1/2 clove garlic, crushed
Preheat oven to 140c.

Put the garlic and parsley into a mini-blender and blitz til smooth. Scrape into a mortar and pestle, then add the salt. Pound until the salt is fine to medium ground, and the parsley mix is thoroughly incorporated.

Tip the mixture onto an oven sheet and spread it out. Put in the oven for 6 minutes, then give it a bit of a stir. Put it back in for another 6 minutes, or until it has dried out, but still green.

Allow to cool, then put back into mortar and pestle, and grind.

Parsley Salt Crackers

 Inspired by Helen's recipe here.

  • 0.5 cup plain white flour
  • 0.5 cup spelt flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 25ml olive oil
  • water to mix
  • parsley salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
Preheat over to 140c.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder, then mix in the oil. Add enough water to make a dough.

Knead for a minute or two, then leave to rest for 15 minutes.

Cut the dough in two, then roll one piece out as thin as you can. Poke marks in it with a fork to stop it puffing up. Brush with beaten egg, then sprinkle with parsley salt to taste.

Cut into what ever shape you like and lay onto a non-stick baking sheet.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden and crispy!

Chunky Fennel Sauce

  • 1 bulb fennel
  • 150ml yogurt
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • parsley salt, to taste
Strain the Yogurt...
Place a couple of sheets of strong tissue in a sieve and balance on a bowl. Tip in the yogurt and leave to sit for as long as possible to let the liquid strain off. ideally overnight, but at least a couple of hours. If you don't have as long, then spread out the yogurt as thinly as possible to accelerate the process.

Prepare the Fennel...
Remove the fronds from the bulb, finely chop and set aside. Remove any discoloured outer leaves and discard. Finely chop the rest of the bulb.

Put the Sauce Together...
Mix together the fronds and the fennel flesh, and mix with the orange zest. Mix in enough strained yogurt to hold the sauce together. Mix in the parsley salt to taste.


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Jen said...

This looks lovely- to be honest I don't like anything remotely anise flavored at all, but I can see how much work you put into this and your plating is great.

Núria said...

Are you offering it to me? Yes please and get another one going! ;D. It looks fabulous, Kittie! Wise use of the Joust ingredients :D

Peter M said...

KIttie, isn't curing salmon so easy and satisfying?

The dish and accompaniments are well composed and this would also be a great first course for a dinner party.

Good luck in the Joust, wee lassie.

Ben said...

oh very nice. decision 08 will be nothing compared to decision RFJ :-p

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Wow, this really looks great Kittie! So beautiful and the spelt crackers look so good! Best of Luck!

glamah16 said...

Oh I have never attempted home cured salmon. I bow down to your greatness!

Natashya said...

I can't believe that you cured your own salmon! You are a wonder.
This looks like an amazing entry to the joust - best of luck!

Sam said...

Wow, that is very impressive! It must have taken a lot of work, you deserve to win with this one.

Dharm said...

OOOhhh Kittie! Looking at this at 730 in the morning is not such a good thing.. I want it and I want it now!! It looks so darned good!

sunita said...

That looks so good...we're such huge fans of salmon.

Dee said...

You're amazing, you are. First the corned beef, now I'm actually thinking curing salmon. It's 9am, Kittie. Really!

Good luck witht he joust :)

Bellini Valli said...

What an inspired dishg for the Joust Kittie. Good for you for coming up with something exceptional:D

Anonymous said...

This looks great and very irresistible to try. I like the parsley salt and the crackers. Gook luck in the Joust!

FoodJunkie said...

Very chic Kittie! Curing Salmon is next on my list and you make it look so easy...Good luck at the Joust

kittie said...

Hi jen! Try subbing vodka for the sambuca, and another spice for the fennel if you fancy a non-anise version of the salmon!

Núria, only in exchange for some of your frog legs - I'm on a hunt for them now!!!

Thanks Peter - I was really impressed with the salmon curing - and how easy it is :)

Lol Ben - maybe we should demand cooking be part of the campaign ;)

Thank you Jenn!

(blush) thanks coco ;) Though I kind of wish I hadn't told you all how easy it is ;)

Thanks Natashya - see you at the round up!

Cheers Sam! It was great trying a couple of new techniques with this one :)

Dharm - I had some of the leftovers on a bagel for breakfast yesterday!

Thanks Sunita! I love salmon, but much prefer it raw, cured or smoked.

Go for it Dee - much less time consuming than the beef ;)

Cheers Val!

Hi Janet! The crackers were delicious - and worked well with pate too :)

Thanks Foodjunkie! I'm going to try it again with other flavours - plenty to be experimented with here!

Helen said...

Oh. my. God! Kittie - this is amazing!! I am so going to try curing my own salmon and the sambuca is a stroke of genius. If you don't win with this entry I'll eat my hat!

mikky said...

mmm... what a great meal starter... :)

Heather said...

That fennel relish looks amazing! Especially with gravlax and crackers. Yum!!

Lori said...

That looks amazing! All of it! I love the idea about the parsley salt. Must do that before winter comes and freezes my parsley.

Maria said...

I want to serve this at my next party! YUM!

Ivy said...

This is really an impressive dish and your presentation is excellent. I told Pixen then that I wanted to make this dish but have not yet found the time. This time I certainly will and I love anything anise flavoured, so I'll cure it with ouzo. Good luck with the Joust.

James Starmer said...

That looks great. I'm a big fan of making seasoned salts. The parsley salt sounds like a really good idea. I chop mine to get a more coarse feel, plus I don't have a mortar and pestle.

Aggie said...

Wow Kittie this looks great!! I love the parsley salt crackers, yum! Good luck!

Lore said...

Those crackers look soooo good and the sound of that salmon and sauce made me melt right this instant. I'm sold!

kittie said...

Thanks Helen :) Warning - I may hold you to that ;)

Cheers mikky!

Relish! That's the word I was looking for - doh! Thanks Heather :D

Thanks Lori. It's a good way to use up herbs - it would be delicious with sage I think!

Hey Maria - me too ;)

Hi Ivy! The anise in the salmon was quite subtle - maybe use extra ouzo instead of the orange juice to make it even more anise :)

Hi James. I have a mezzaluna too - it didn't occur to me to use it for this! Your rosemary and lemon salt sounds fabulous!

Thanks Aggie! Btw, Loving those pumpkin bars =)

Glad you like it Lore :)

giz said...

All I can say is WOW. In what part of your brain did you think this up - absolutely fantastic. I'm just more than impressed - speechless (that, btw is a miracle).
Now I'm missing Pixie - she would be very proud to see what you've done

kang said...

Oh gosh, this must taste great, the savourness of the salmon with the crackers and the orange and sambuca to give it an edge and a fruit boost :D

This is great! I really would love the chance to see you work in the kitchen... and watch you creat magic! Yum!

Anonymous said...

This actually tempts me to give anise, something I am not particularly fond of, another try. Beautiful!

My Yummy Life

Anonymous said...

This looks so tasty! What a great picture.

Jeff said...

Amazing dish!! I love cured salmon and the orange is definitely something I am going to have to give a shot.

Midwest Mom said...

I love fennel, but I've never tried a sauce like yours. I can't wait to give it a try.

You do such beautiful photography. I love the colors in your photos. They make everything look more luscious.

hot garlic said...

Great entry! After viewing it and finding it absolutely drool-some, I am rooting for you and hoping you win!

Okay, and lol about your getting into tomorrow's choc rations! You're bad!

kittie said...

Thanks giz - that's a lovely compliment!

Thank you kang! I don't know about creating magic - creating mess maybe ;)

Thanks Arika - like I said above, it isn't my favourite flavour, but I enjoyed it in this mix!

Thank you Candy!

I hope you do Jeff - I'm still amazed at how easy and tasty it was!

Thank you MW mom! I've been trying to improve my photography, so it's lovely to hear that!

Hey HG! You should check out the event - it's a great chance to explore your adventurous side!

Joie de vivre said...

This is seriously making my mouth water so much I am having to repeatedly swallow while reading your post so I will not choke on my own saliva.

Nik Snacks said...

Kittie, I love what you've done here. I am squimish about salmon but I'd try this. I'd make this. And I really like making crackers (cause Nik loves to snack! hahahha) so yes...I'm writing all of this down...And good luck in the joust!

ley said...

Ooh those little crackers are SO cute! I love them! This is a really creative dish- good luck in the Joust! I'm glad I'm not competing against you, because this looks SO good. :)

Tom Aarons said...

The colors here are just divine, Kitty!

kittie said...

Hey Joie! Thanks for the (somewhat graphic ;) compliment! And I would have another go at the ham hock terrine - I tried some at a restaurant recently - it was delicious! (Sans cabbage though ;)

Hi Nik - for some reason I had never thought about making crackers before! Definitely will again though - so easy!

Hey Ley - thanks!

Cheers tom! Good to see you again :D

pixen said...

Hi Kittie, I'm so happy that my dish inspired your creation (blushed) and I wished you the best! In fact, I love your submission to the RFJ... great combinations!

kittie said...

Thanks Pixen - and thanks for such a great recipe! :D