Colours of Iceland ... or, Pan-fried Salmon, Daikon, Cucumber and Asparagus with Purée
We've just had a wonderful little break away to Iceland and I wanted to cook something to round off that trip and remind us of some of the colours and the flavours.
I had gorgeous couple of pieces of smoked salmon fillet in, which is perfect as the centre piece of the meal. I also had some daikon that needed using up ... that got me thinking about snow.
Rooting through the cupboards I found a few other things and a meal plan formed in my mind* ...
This is one of those meals that you prepare all the parts of the meal up front and put it all together at the end. Each part also used up all the trimmings and offcuts somehow, so pay attention to each step and don't throw anything away!
Get the cucumber macerating ...
Peel and slice some cucumber, reserving the skin for another part of the dish: the purée The slices should be thin. Pour over a couple of caps of white wine vinegar and toss in some finely chopped dill having removed the thick stalks. Again, reserve the stalks for the purée.
Take a few spears of asparagus and chop the tips off, reserving the stalk for the purée. Boil the tips briefly and add to the macerating vinegar.
Chop up a lot of dill really finely. This will be the covering garnish for the fish. Again, remove the thick stalks which should be reserved for the purée.
We also need just a little onion flavour, for which a spring onion is perfect. Slice off the white parts, reserving the greens for the purée and drop the white parts into the macerating vinegar.
Purée was mentioned a lot there, so let's make it ...
Collect all the green trimmings, chop up well, drop into a pan with a little butter and sauté through before pouring on some water. Some, not a huge amount. We're going to blend, sieve and reduce later, so the more water you add now, the more you'll have to reduce later on. Add a little sea salt in, too. Again, not too much since we'll be reducing and compounding the flavour.
After a few minutes of boiling, blend together to a really fine purée and pass through a sieve. Return the liquid to the pan and set to reduce.
Prepare the daikon ...
Daikon has a great radish flavour, perfect for partnering with the soft sweetness of the salmon.
Take your daikon, peel it and cut good thick slices straight through. One per person. Trim the edges to make a soft cake. Chop up all the trimmings and the rest of the daikon - this will be the daikon cream.
Boil the lot, retrieving the cakes for later. We'll colour these up in butter at the end.
Blend the rest of the daikon and add some mascarpone. Cream cheese, creme fraiche, even cream will do fine. My initial idea was to make quenelles and present as a sort of ice cream on top of the daikon cake.
You can do this by popping the mixture in the freezer and bringing it out once hardened, forming quenelles at the last minute. I didn't have enough time, so it went on the plate as a second purée.
Ready to eat?
All the faff is now done, so all that is left to do is boil the potatoes and pan fry the salmon, and daikon.
Set some salad potatoes boiling and just when they're about done, put the salmon in the hob in a skillet with some melted butter and, in another skillet, butter and the daikon cakes to colour up.
Pan fry the salmon on one side for two to three minutes, flip over and same on the other side. After another two or three minutes, remove from the hob and allow the residual heat just to cook it through while you plate up.
Your purée should now be fully reduced.
Potatoes done, crush them with a fork using the residual heat to melt a little butter in and cook a clove of minced garlic through. Black pepper. Just a grind.
Plate up ...
Potatoes in the middle, daikon cream one side, green purée the other. Daikon cake on top of the cream, or, if you've done the freezer thing, form quenelles of the cream and gently place on top of the cake.
Lay the salmon over the potato.
Drain off the cucumber, laying pieces around the plate along with the spring onions. Place the asparagus tips over the green puree and garnish: chopped dill over the salmon, Icelandic ash salt over the daikon.
Lovely contrasts, both in colour and flavour.
*Now you see it ... snow with ash, green moss and the salmon with a surf of potatoes.
The colours of Iceland on a plate ...
... or am I perhaps a little unhinged?