Archive for April 2011

Salmon Tartare

April 28th, 2011 — 2:38pm


I’ve been enjoying the luxury of a few days off, taking full advantage of the fact that I can wander up to the fishmonger whenever I damn well feel like it. Yesterday, I craved something light but still a bit special; salmon tartare seemed to fit the bill.

I’ve long been of the opinion that salmon is best eaten raw. It has such a firm, silky texture and a clean flavour. When heat is applied, there is a very fine line between perfectly semi-translucent flakes and minging mush. This recipe is of course a fishy variation on beef tartare. The flavours are pretty much the same; tangy ingredients like capers and gherkins, herbs, onion and Tabasco all go as well with salmon as they do with beef, although you’ll want to skip the standard raw egg yolk. With fish, I think it’s nicer to cut chunks rather than mincing it quite small as you would with meat.

This is a lovely way to eat salmon in the summer when you want something cool and refreshing or can’t bear the thought of heat from a grill. Just make sure to buy your fish from a good fishmonger and let them know you’ll be eating it raw; although the citrus juice will partly cook the fish, you want the freshest piece possible.

I sometimes do an Asian twist on this, swapping lemon for lime juice and using shallot, chilli, coriander, soy and sesame oil. If you try this variation, mackerel works really well in place of salmon.

Salmon Tartare (feeds 1 greedy person)

200g salmon fillet, skinned (make sure to check with the fishmonger that it can be eaten raw)
1/2-1 teaspoon red onion or shallot, very finely chopped
1/2 – 1 teaspoon capers, very finely chopped
1/2 – 1 teaspoon parsley, very finely chopped
1 small gherkin, very finely chopped
A squeeze of lemon juice
A few shakes of Worcestershire sauce
A few shakes of Tabasco
Salt and pepper

Chop the salmon into small chunks. Mix in all the other ingredients then cover and let sit for about 10 minutes. Stir again and serve with toasted rye or other bread. You may want to add more condiments after tasting.

12 comments » | Fish, Fish and Seafood, Main Dishes, Seafood, Starters

My New Column for AoL Lifestyle

April 22nd, 2011 — 1:48pm

AoL have just launched a new website called ‘Lifestyle’ and on it you will find a shiny twinkly sparkly little recipe column by yours truly. The theme is ‘simple speedy suppers’ and I kicked it off with a bangin’ spring fattoush then slipped effortlessly into the realm of pig (as ever) with a roasted chicken and chorizo number.

There will also be cake, cake and more cake from Jassy Davis, plus some tackling of food topics from Andrew Webb and Louisa Carter. Do check it out, or I’ll throw my toys right out of the pram. All of them.

10 comments » | Writing Elsewhere

Piri Piri Chicken

April 17th, 2011 — 1:57pm

The grilling season is upon us. I’m excited. The summer stretches out in front of me like one long BBQ sizzling with stuffed squid, beer-can duck, tikka, grilled pineapple salsa, sardines, smoky baba and of course, plenty of jerk (top tips for great jerk here).

Portuguese piri piri chicken is something I’ve been meaning to experiment with for a while. We’ve survived the winter by ordering from Na Pura in Nunhead. The chicken there has a good flavour and is cooked well but I do wish they’d use better quality birds. They also take forever to cook them. After a batch of wings and a chicken or two I’ve hammered down my own recipe and the time has come to say that I’m sorry, Na Pura, but your services are no longer required.

My piri piri sauce is a combination of shed-loads of fierce little chillies, oregano, paprika, garlic, vinegar, oil and sugar; the sweet/sharp balance makes it perfect for the BBQ and BBQ’d it must be because char is very important for this recipe. The skin should be blackened in places. The vinegar in the marinade tenderises the meat keeping it juicy and moist inside. The other important thing to remember is to keep a pot of marinade and a brush to hand when grilling; brush the bird liberally and often. When she’s done, give her a final coat before serving with wedges of lemon and a big salad. And a beer.

It’s nice to serve a pot of the sauce at the table with a little brush, like Restaurante Bonjardim in Lisbon.

Piri Piri Chicken (makes enough for 2 chickens)

30 piri piri or other small red chillies (obviously you may need to adjust the amount according to the chillies you have available)
3 teaspoons dried oregano (fresh would be lovely but it’s quite hard to find around here)
2 level tablespoons paprika
150ml red wine vinegar
200ml olive oil
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
Chicken (see instructions on spatchcocking at the end)

Whack everything in a blender until smooth. Pour half of the marinade over your meat, cover and refrigerate overnight. Turn the bird around in the marinade every now and then. When it comes to grilling your bird/s, get the coals white hot then move them to the edges of the BBQ and put your chicken in the middle. Brush regularly with the marinade. Cook until the skin is blackened in places and the bird is cooked through (about 15-20 mins per side for a spatchcocked chicken).

Brush again with the marinade before serving.

If you’re cooking a whole bird on the BBQ, spatchcock (butterfly) it to ensure it cooks fast and evenly. To do this, place the bird breast-side down on a board, with the tail towards you. Using scissors, cut along each side of the backbone to remove it (this requires a little welly as you’re cutting through the ribs but it’s not that difficult). Turn the bird over and use the heel of your hand to push down on the breastbone so that it’s all one thickness. Use skewers to secure the legs and keep the shape of the chicken by pushing them through the thigh and then diagonally through the breast. A bird will take 15-20 minutes per side. If you want to see someone doing it there are some good vids on youtube.

20 comments » | Barbecue, Gluten-free, Main Dishes, Meat, Sauces, Sauces, Condiments and Spreads

A Food and Drink Map of Peckham

April 13th, 2011 — 9:49pm

View Peckham Food and Drink Map in a larger map

A reader e-mailed me recently to suggest I make a Google map showing the best food shops and restaurants around Peckham (thanks Alex). I thought it would be a nice way to follow on from this post and extend it to cafes, restaurants and boozers. I may branch it out further when I have time, into Nunhead and East Dulwich but for now I expect you locals to tell me about all those places I’ve missed. Don’t let me down now.

There’s a little linky underneath the map above to take you to a fancy big one. Ooooh.

12 comments » | Food From The Rye, Maps, Markets, Peckham, Restaurant Reviews, Shops

Smoked Mackerel, Potato & Baby Chard Salad with Pickled Cucumbers

April 7th, 2011 — 8:23am

Baby rainbow chard is cropping up at farmers markets now; young and tender enough to use as salad leaves, with a pleasing bitterness which contrasts well with something rich, like oily mackerel. Potatoes beef this salad out, while dill brings a tickle of aniseed. To make this more interesting than a regular salad, the pickled cukes are essential, adding an addictive, tartar-like piquancy.

Perhaps not one to take to work though; the combination of fish, pickles and spring onions sealed together in a box then suddenly, hungrily released could clear an office in minutes.

Smoked Mackerel, Potato and Baby Chard Salad with Pickled Cucumbers (serves 4)

200g smoked mackerel
600g potatoes
100g baby rainbow chard, finely shredded (make sure to shred the stalks more finely than the leaves as they are tougher)
2 tablespoons dill, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons olive oil
4-6 small pickled cucumbers, finely chopped
4 spring onions, finely sliced

Cut the potatoes into bite size chunks and cook in boiling salted water. Drain and set aside.

Whisk the lemon juice and olive oil together. Season with black pepper and a little salt, whisk again. Remove the skin from the mackerel and break it into large flakes.

Mix the potato, mackerel, chard, dill and spring onions in a large bowl. Add the dressing and mix well. Add the pickled cucumbers and mix again. Serve.

11 comments » | Fish, Lunchbox, Main Dishes, Picnic, Salads

Peckham Pizza

April 3rd, 2011 — 6:47pm

I arrived at this recipe after a week of experimenting with lahmacun, or ‘Turkish pizza’. Lahmacun (pronounced lah-ma-jun) is a thin, flat disk of dough smeared with minced lamb (or beef), spices and aleppo pepper, cooked and then finished with a sprinkle of lemon juice and fresh herbs. I’ve made a few variations over the past 7 days and they’ve all been delish, particularly when scattered with chopped pickled cucumbers. As time went by though I found the recipe evolving into something a little more locally influenced.

As you all know, Persepolis is one of my favourite local food shops and I nip in at every opportunity. The shopkeeper, Sally has a recipe for ‘Persian Pizza’ in her cookbook, which bears many similarities to lahmacun but does away with dough faffing and uses ready bought bread instead. Feeling fatigued, I was having me some of that. I would just cook the lamb mixture before spreading it on the bread and cut about 2 hours off the prep time.

I ditched the aleppo pepper too for a jar of  ‘gongura red chilli pickle'; a highly addictive paste of sour gongura leaves, fierce hot chillies, garlic, tamarind and spices. For post-cooking pimpage, it had to be finely chopped Iranian cucumbers, which have a curious mix of musty/sharp/sweet flavours and are justifiably world famous. To finish, a swirl of cooling yoghurt and the essential fresh herbs.

The way to eat this is to roll it up, grasp it and show it who’s boss. My boyfriend was in raptures over it and I have to say I’m very pleased with the recipe; the bread works better than the dough ever did and the pickle adds an exotic tangy and hot flavour. Crisp bread, spiced meat, chopped pickles, cool yoghurt, fragrant herbs = contrast-tastic.  It’s packed with flavours of the Middle East and is therefore oh so very Peckham.

Peckham Pizza (makes 4)

4 naan breads
500g minced lamb
2 tablespoons gongura chilli pickle (or you could substitute chopped pickled chillies)
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

2 pickled cucumbers, finely chopped
Lemon wedges
Fresh herbs (I used parsley and coriander)

Soften the onion in a little oil then add the minced lamb. Stir it, breaking it up until it is all browned. Meanwhile, skin the tomatoes by covering them with boiling water and leaving a for a few minutes. Drain them then cover with cold water for a further minute. Rub the skins off, quarter them and remove the seeds. Blend to a paste in a blender or chop finely.

When the meat is browned, add the spices and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or so. Add the chilli pickle and tomatoes and let cook for around 10 minutes on a medium heat, stirring occasionally. Check the seasoning and adjust to taste.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Spread the topping over each naan, making sure to really press it down and spread it right out to the edges. Cook for around 5 minutes, until the edges of the naan are nice and crisp. I find the best results come from cooking the pizza directly on the oven rack (i.e without a baking tray).

Artfully dollop on some yoghurt, scatter with fresh herbs and serve with wedges of lemon.

23 comments » | Food From The Rye, Main Dishes, Meat, Peckham, Pickles, Pizza, Sandwiches, Sauces, Condiments and Spreads, Snacks, Street Food

Back to top