Fishmas – December Fish tasting Menu


Over the past year and a half, I’ve been testing dishes out at supper clubs with a view to assembling a series of themed tasting menus. I’m delighted to announce that the first of these menus has finally been written, and will be making it’s debut next month.

Smoke and Thyme: Fishmas 2015:

6 Lobster Tortelini

A seven-course tasting menu of the best fish and seafood dishes from 2015. Including such favourites as beetroot cured salmon , Thai crab cakes and lobster tortellini, with optional matching wines. Served in an intimate 12 seat conservatory setting in East Oxford.

18th and 19th December.

Merry Fishmas!

Tickets are £30+ booking fee, wine pairing menu is an additional £22 or BYO for £7 corkage.  Ginger Squid salad

Tickets can be purchased at Eventbrite through the links be
low.

Please pick your date:
Friday 18th December
Saturday 19th December

 

The Menu:

  1. Trio of cold fish starters (Beetroot cured salmon, harissa anchovies, octopus salad)1 Trio of fish starters
  2. Thai crabcakes2 Thai crabcakes
  3. Green curry soup with mussels3 Thai Green Curry Soup with Mussels
  4. Soft roes on toast4 Soft Roes on Toast with Sherry Cream
  5. Rainbow trout with courgette ribbons and chimmichurri5 Rainbow Trout and Chimmichurri
  6. Lobster tortelini6 Lobster Tortelini
  7. Sea salt caramel ice cream7 Sea Salt Caramel ice cream

Salmon and Saag Aloo

Salmon and Saag Aloo

It started with a fish.

I’d been looking for sea bass, but the sea bass were looking a bit fishy. My eye drifted over to the salmon, and I was hooked.IMG_0477

I came up with a plan:
Buy a whole salmon, fillet it myself. Preserve one side with a beetroot-cure and cook the other side for dinner tonight with nothing but a little salt, pepper, a squeeze of lemon and maybe a bay leaf in the pan – just crispy skin and the essential flavours of the salmon.

But what did I want to serve it with?

A bowl of hot, buttery, new season potatoes, crushed by a fork and sprinkled with grassy chives and flakes of sea salt? Or a nest of wilted spinach – a bitter, dark-green, iron-y tang against the sweet, rich, blushing pink flesh of the salmon?

The answer obviously was both, but as soon as those two ingredients were in my head, my thoughts went to saag aloo. Melding spinach and potatoes with Indian flavours is the best thing I can think to do with either of those ingredients, let alone both, so I was sure it would be the perfect complement to the salmon.

IMG_0545

And it is.
Against a plainer accompaniment salmon can dominate a plate, but faced with the bold and spicy saag aloo it reveals the more delicate side of its fishy nature. At the last minute, I decided to add a vegetable fritter, which backed up the crispy salmon skin beautifully and brought the whole dish together.

IMG_0575

Salmon and Saag Aloo

Continue reading “Salmon and Saag Aloo”

Beetroot-Cured Salmon

Salmon beetroot and orange zest cure

I never believed in love at first sight until this recipe. Call me shallow if you like, but I fell for the colours in this fish even before I had my first bite.

Salmon fan

Of course, colour is much more than just skin deep in this dish. I’m not just talking about how the beetroot cure seeping slowly into the flesh of the salmon leaves every opalescent slice with a crimson aura that fades into the salmon pink like a sunset over the sea. No – almost every ingredient in that we add to this salmon is marked by its relationship to a colour. The beetroot, infamous for its vibrant stain, is matched with zest of an orange – the fruit that takes such bold pride in its hue that they named the shade after it. The cure -BROWN sugar, BLACK peppercorns. (The dill, fresh and bright and grass-green though it may be, may be the exception that proves the rule). All of which makes pairing this salmon with inky caviar or slices of forest-green avocado almost irresistibly beautiful, combining the taste and appearance of a rainbow to the very idea of one.

Salmon beetroot and orange zest cure box

But there’s wisdom behind this beauty as well. The classic pairing of smoke and cured salmon is adored for its peaty darkness –  the earthy, fruity flavour of the beetroot combines to similar effect. The orange provides the indispensable citric squeeze for the salmon. Orange and beetroot also play surprisingly well off each other. There’s a famous dish-come-playful study in colour by Heston Blumenthal. He serves “Beetroot and Orange Jelly” with the mischievous recommendation to “eat the orange one first”. The orange one, of course, tastes of beetroot and the beetroot-red one tastes of oranges.

Salmon plated

This beetroot-cured salmon does not aim to confuse though, only to delight. A riot of colour both on the plate and behind the scenes. The first bite is with the eyes, but a whole feast that lies beyond that. It’s something special, any way that you slice it.

Continue reading “Beetroot-Cured Salmon”