Sunday, 2 December 2007

Sorrel and Salmon

... though not together, which now I think of it is a pity. They ought to match rather well.

I got to the Growers' Market at EPIC yesterday, for the first time in months. Some changes are dramatic: with the November rains and the spring growth, prices have come way down on salads. Stone fruits are making an appearance, and the cherries are in, hurrah! I got me a kilo of beautiful dark Rons for $7, and I'm half way through them already. I have no restraint with cherries. The only recipe required for me is "Rinse. Eat."

I bought some sorrel, which I have never cooked before, and I ran a small experiment. After looking in my cookbooks and googling, I found that some people recommended cooking it for 10 minutes, and others recommended using it raw, or nearly so. I tried a small leaf, and it is deliciously lemony and tart, but with a slight astringency. This would make it unpleasant in bulk in a salad, but it should work as a herb accent.

I made myself a test sorrel omelet for lunch. First, I rinsed the sorrel, de-stemmed it, and shredded it finely. I cooked half of the sorrel well, by pan frying it gently in butter for 5 minutes. The other half I just blanched by pouring boiling water over it in a colander. The pan fried version reduces very quickly - two cups of very loosely packed shreds reduced to under two tablespoons of puree. I put the blanched version on one half of the omelet, and the puree on the other half, folded it up and ate it with some beautiful grainy sourdough toast. The result was unambiguous - well cooked wins! The lightly blanched half had more volume, and more in-your-face attitude, but it was also notably more watery. It also retained some of the astringency of the raw leaf. The pureed half balanced much better with the eggs, and was more delicate, while retaining a good lemony bite.

The salmon part of this post is another experiment, but even more uncontrolled. This month's Delicious has a cured salmon recipe, while Good Taste has a gravlax one. They are drastically different - one hour cure vs 2 days; 25og salt/sugar mix for 1kg salmon vs 750g salt/sugar for 300g salmon! Well, how can you go wrong with that range of options? I decided to make up my own.

Recipe: Cured Salmon
375g coarse sea salt
250g white sugar
rind and juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons limoncello
400g skinless salmon fillet

Mix the salt, sugar, lemon rind, juice and limoncello together in a non-reactive bowl. Pin-bone the salmon and cut into 3 or 4 even sized pieces. Coat the pieces in the curing mixture, cover and refrigerate for some time: 1 hour to several days... When ready to serve, rinse well, and dry with paper towel. Slice finely.

Notes: I can't tell you how well this works, because I only put it in the fridge before lunch. You could leave the salmon whole if you have a nice even chunk. Also, that pin-boning thing is a pain. It's easy enough to detect the fine bones by running your fingers over the fillet. But getting them out isn't so easy. It helps to get a solid grip on them - my tweezers were not effective - and notice that the angle is determined by the grain of the flakes in the fish.

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