Tuesday, August 25, 2009

pretty and delicious - salmon wrapped in courgette ribbons

Wracking my brains to come up with an entry for this month’s twitter cookoff competion "Summer Starter" (organized by Nickie Philbin), I remembered a very pretty recipe originally published in Loyd Grossman’s 1998 collection, the 125 best recipes ever: salmon wrapped in courgette ribbons with tomato vinaigrette.

Loyd credits Irish celebrity chef Paul Rankin of Roscoff in Belfast for this (the current Roscoff is the second incarnation bearing the name).

I made this years ago and it is indeed extremely pretty, but I remembered I had a bit of trouble with it - there’s some finicky chopping of ingredients. This thought inspired some procrastination, and as usual I was cooking at the limits of the competition deadline.

However, this time the gods of procrastination smiled upon me and I serendipitously discovered a few quick fixes which really work.

As long as one gets one head around the chopping bits, this is actually very easy.

1) Use a potato peeler (I have a Y-shaped one) to slice the courgette into ribbons lengthways.

2) My fridge was too cold and the salmon fillets semi-froze. This actually made them easier to chop! - I lay the courgette ribbon across the fillet to gauge how wide I need to cut the salmon.

3) Wrapping the salmon cubes in raw courgette strip as Loyd stipulates is actually quite difficult - there’s too much fibre in the vegetable to neatly cling around the salmon. Instead, I followed Loyd’s photographer’s food stylist’s lead (as deduced from the recipe photo) - I pre-chargrilled the courgette ribbons flat in a griddle, carefully removing them and wrapping the salmon pieces. MUCH easier.

4) After wrapping the salmon cubes with courgette and skewering them up, I baked them in the oven for about 8 minutes at 160C in a fan oven. Perfect!

5) The vinaigrette requires one to skin, chop and deseed tomatoes. There is no way around this - just go for it. Dunk tomatoes in boiling water for about 10 seconds - until the skins are visibly loose. Remove the tomatoes and (as soon as your fingers can stand it) peel them. Quarter the tomatoes, remove and discard the seeds, and chop the remaining flesh finely. Mix with 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 100ml olive oil, and a handful of chopped basil leaves. Add salt and cracked black pepper to taste.

6) Lay the skewers on plates, and dress with the vinaigrette.

This is a very fresh summery dish and looks extremely pretty and sophisticated on the plate. Also, it’s made out of simple, good and healthy ingredients. This would work as a starter or as a light main course.

Competition results.

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