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
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.
- 5 tbsp coarse sea salt
- small handful parsley leaves
- 1/2 clove garlic, crushed
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
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
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.