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.

Braised cheek of beef with steak tartar infused with oysters served with salsify, sauce of oxtail

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
1 onion
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.

Salsify draining

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.

Salsify tagliatelle with smoked salmon

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!


joven said...
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Niamh said...

Oh, I love salsify! The oyster flavour is so subtle, great idea to pair it with some to bring it out. Looks great!

Hollow Legs said...

What a brilliant idea; it looks stunning. I'm really enjoying your Swedish food adventures.

Helen said...

This recipe is absolutely gorgeous. I am very impressed. It looks so indulgent and elegant and such an imaginative use of the salsify.

Paunchos said...

@Niamh - Thanks! It was so tasty.

@Lizie - Glad you are enjoying the Swedish posts - there's plenty more to explore. I'm only just scratching the surface.

@Helen - Salsify works a treat. Super stuff. And an amazing transformation from brown and hairy to white and silky.

theundergroundrestaurant said...

I was sure I left a comment yesterday. Anyway love salsify, reading this took me back to my time in France.

Jonathan said...

@theundergroundrestaurant - Apparently it's sometimes a bit odd accepting comments so sorry if that happened to you. But delighted this post transported you back to France.

An American in London said...

Funny, but my introduction to salsify came about after I moved to London! In any case, I've never seen it in its raw state (it was probably better that I didn't know - they're quite ugly).

Sorry, no in recipe recommendations for you, but when I've had salsify in restaurants, it's usually roasted or mashed . . . .

Jonathan said...

@An American in London - Roasted and mashed seems to be pretty common. I think they'd make good rostis.

Cakelaw said...

This looks amazing. I'd never even heard of salsify before.

Jonathan said...

@Cakelaw - Thanks. It's a new discovery for me too.


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