Saturday, 5 June 2010
Creamy Salsify Seafood Tagliatelle
Before dining at Kock & Vin I hadn’t really come across salsify before. It made an appearance in few dishes and struck as being a hallmark of Swedish food. So when I saw the gnarly, brown protrusions in the supermarket I couldn’t help myself from placing them in my basket. Even though I had told myself to not buy anything that wasn’t on my very minimalist shopping list.
Some research revealed that salsify is known by many as the oyster plant, apparently because the taste is similar. Looking back at the dish we had at Kock & Vin with braised beef cheek, steak tartar, oysters and salsify it all makes even more sense. And two months after eating this unusual dish I am even more impressed by it.
After much searching, I found a few interesting recipes – one suggesting making them into a truffled mash, another that recommended grating them and making a rosti and most interestingly one in Aquavit that sees them transformed into a root vegetable version of tagliatelle topped with a creamy smoked salmon sauce.
It seemed like a brilliant idea, if harder work than I wanted. I liked the idea of bringing out their oystery characteristics so introduced smoked oysters into the sauce as well and switched the heavy cream for crème fraiche.
Ingredients: (serves 1)
3 stems of salsify
1 small tub of crème fraiche
Several slices of smoked salmon
1 tin of smoked oysters
2 cloves of garlic
Half a lemon
Take the skin off the salsify using a cheese slicer or vegetable peeler. Immediately after peeling place into acidulated water to stop them browning. Then, again using the peeler, slice into wafer thin strands like tagliatelle and place these back into the water. Then for each strand slice lengthways into 3-4mm wide strands and immerse in salted boiling water. Cook for 5 or so minutes or until tender.
Meanwhile, sauté an onion and the garlic until soft and then add the tub of crème craiche let down with a few tablespoons of water and a squeeze of lemon juice. Then add the smoked oysters to warm through. Once the salsify is cooked remove it from the water and add to the creamy sauce. Rather than grating parmesan over it, some lemon zest will work wonders instead.
Mix through the smoked salmon and a few basil leaves, season generously and top with a teaspoon of caviar.
The fishy flavours, creamy sauce and lemony flecks are delicious. The salsify held itself together very well and makes a brilliant alternative to pasta. And the caviar adds a touch of luxury, texture and a colour contrast to the pale palette.
It would be even better with a glass of cold, minerally Muscadet and maybe a dash of horseradish cream. After such a delicious dish I can imagine the next version evolving into “salsify tagliatelle alle vongole”. If you've got any suggestions for cooking salsify please let me know, because I've got plenty left in the fridge!