An impressive dinner party starter from Tony Rodd
Salmon and cucumber are natural bedfellows. This recipe utilises cucumber in a number of guises. I love the addition of seaweed, which brings an earthy and salty flavour to the dish. The whole dish can be prepared in advance for a dinner party and kept in the fridge until needed.
600g salmon fillets, skinned and pin-boned
50g caster sugar
50g fine salt
1 tsp juniper berries
1 lemon, zest and juice
2 sheets of nori or other seaweed
100ml crème fraiche
1 punnet of mixed sea herbs (sea aster, salty fingers, sea beets or sea purslane work well)
For the pickled cucumbers:
50ml cider vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
For the cucumber ketchup:
50ml of white wine vinegar
1 tsp caster sugar
½ tsp xanthan gum
For the dill oil:
A bunch of dill
100ml vegetable or rapeseed oil
Start by preparing the salmon. Cut the salmon into 2 long strips of equal size, removing any fat (the dark meat), skin or bones that may be left on the fillet. Mix the sugar, salt, juniper berries, and the zest and juice of the lemon together in a bowl and rub over the salmon fillets and leave for 15 mins to lightly cure.
Pre-heat the oven to 100C and place a tall-sided dish that will fit the salmon into the oven, filled with enough water to cover the fish when ready. Wash the salmon, place it on a layer of clingfilm and roll into a tight cylinder. Place the salmon into the water and cook for 30 mins. Remove from the oven and place in the fridge for 45 mins. Take the nori and place into a blender until it forms a fine dust. Keep some of the dust for later. Remove the clingfilm from the salmon and roll in the nori dust until a dark coating of seaweed encases the fish. Keep the fish in the fridge until needed.
While the salmon is cooking and chilling, make the pickled cucumbers and other garnishes. Using a vegetable peeler, skin the cucumber (keeping the peel for later), then peel strips of the flesh until you reach the seeds (again, save these for later). Place the cider vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and place the strips of cucumber into the pickling liquid. Allow to pickle for 10-30 mins or until they have reached the desired taste. Roll the strips into spirals and place on a plate in the fridge until needed.
For the cucumber ketchup, chop the second cucumber and the remaining skin and seeds from the first into small pieces and place in a blender, along with the white wine vinegar and sugar. Blend, and while blending, add the xanthan gum. Check for consistency (you’re looking for a gummy, ketchup texture) and add more xanthan gum if required. Place in a piping bag or squeezy bottle until needed.
For the dill oil, reserve 4 stems of dill for later and place the rest in a pan of boiling water for 30 secs to blanch, then chill over ice to stop the cooking process. Squeeze out the water and place in a blender with the oil. Blend for a few mins, then strain through a cheese cloth or muslin.
Lightly whisk the crème fraiche to loosen and place in a piping bag until needed. To assemble, cut the salmon into 8 equal sized pieces and place 2 on each plate with the cut side up. Place dots of the crème fraiche and ketchup on and around the salmon. Place the spirals of pickled cucumber around the salmon, allowing some to unravel.
Drape the sea herbs and remaining dill fronds over the dish and sprinkle the reserved nori dust over the top. Finally, drizzle some of the dill oil onto the plate around the fish.
Recipe: Tony Rodd