It’s time to lighten up and embrace summer flavours – fish ‘cooked’ in lime juice and chocolate mousse cake with orange juice
Salmon and tuna tartare. Photograph: Alan Betson
Flourless, chocolate and orange cake. Photograph: Alan Betson
Never mind those old wives’ tales. In Ireland May is definitely the start of summer. Maybe it’s because here, anything above 18 degrees simply must mean summer. Which means that May is the month when white Irish limbs often get their first blast of fresh air in months, cherry trees burst into blossom like pink popcorn and green spaces everywhere are chock-a-block with daisies and dandelions.
Speaking of dandelions, when they’re freshly sprung from the ground you can eat their leaves. When young and not too tough, they add a spiky, sharp bite to salads – wonderful with goat’s cheese and walnuts and a drizzle of honey. So, not just a pesky weed after all. Just make sure they haven’t been, um, peed on by the local cat.
Summer holidays are just around the corner. And with holiday plans come ambitions to look great in that new bikini/swimsuit/pair of trunks. So it’s only natural that people’s appetites shift from a craving for carbs to a quest for clean, fresh foods that are heavy on flavour but light on calories. The other time of the year this becomes apparent is post-Christmas, when not only do I find people are craving clean flavours and lighter dishes, but also very strongly flavoured ones: umami light, as it were. Whereas in summer, citrus is what’s desired.
So it’s in this spirit that I came up with the two recipes for this week. They’re not designed necessarily to go together, but if you were so inclined, they’d certainly make a great pairing. The first dish is the personification of light, clean flavours – a nutritious tartare of salmon and tuna where the raw flesh “cooks” in the lime juice and the fish’s natural richness is offset by a flurry of fresh herbs and traditional Asian seasonings of sesame, ginger, wasabi and tamari.
The chocolate mousse cake relies for its sweetness on prunes, dark chocolate and orange juice, instead of sugar. It has no flour either, which is handy if you’re coeliac but also if you’re after something a bit lighter.
I’d be lying if I said it’s calorie-free, but with no saturated fat (coconut oil instead of butter) it’s definitely a healthier option than most cakes. And if you must eat cake – and who doesn’t like the occasional slice – this is one that you can feel vaguely smug about.