Anyone dreaming of a light Christmas?
Some of Ireland’s top chefs have put together seasonal delights which won’t pile on the pounds
While it may be the season to eat, drink and be merry, many people will be watching their waistlines and hoping the extra pounds lost in time for the office party won’t be regained during the biggest feast of the year.
We asked some of Ireland’s best known chefs to give some healthy options to the traditional Christmas fare – something tasty, and with a “wow factor” to keep everybody happy over the festive period.
Derry Clarke of l’Ecrivain restaurant in Dublin says a spicy fish dish followed by a warming fruit dessert will tickle the taste-buds, and allow room for a slice of Granny’s Christmas cake in the evening.
Spiced Monkfish, Carrot Orange Puree, Shredded Carrot Ginger Salad
4 x 160g monkfish portions (trimmed)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
For the Spice Mix
1 tsp cumin seeds (crushed)
1 tsp coriander seeds (crushed)
Pinch of five-spice powder
¼ red chilli (deseeded diced)
1cm piece of root ginger (peeled and finely diced)
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
For the Carrot Orange Puree
4 large carrots (peeled and chopped)
2 shallots (peeled and diced)
1 clove of garlic (peeled and crushed)
2 oranges (juiced)
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
For the Carrot Ginger Salad
2 large carrots peeled and grated
5cm piece of ginger (peeled and grated)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh chervil
Salt freshly ground white pepper
Mix all spice ingredients together in a large bowl. Toss the monkfish on all sides in the spice mix. On a hot pan, add the vegetable oil. Brown the fish on all sides.Finish in the oven for five minutes. Remove and rest for a few minutes before serving.
Next, prepare the puree. In a heavy sauce pot, add the olive oil and gently cook the shallots and garlic for two minutes. Add the carrots, season and cook for three minutes. Add the orange juice.
Cook very slowly for 20 minutes or until very tender: strain and keep the liquid. Liquidise the remaining mixture in a food processor until smooth; add some of the liquid if the puree is too thick.
Finally, prepare the salad. Toss the carrots, ginger and chervil in a large bowl. Season and drizzle with olive oil.
Spoon the carrot puree onto warm serving plates. Place monkfish on top, add carrot and ginger salad on top of the monkfish.
Pears Poached in Port Wine
6 firm, green, slightly under-ripe pears with stalks
120g caster sugar
280ml red wine
8 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
2 vanilla beans
Zest of 1 lemon or 1 orange
Peel the pears and take a thin slice off the bottom of each so you can stand it upright. Place the pears into a high-sided saucepan that will hold them tightly: it should not be deep enough for them to float.
Put all the other ingredients into the saucepan and top up with water to reach just below the pear stalks. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to a simmer. Poach for 30-45 minutes, or until the pears are tender. How long this takes will depend on their variety and ripeness.
Leave to cool slightly, then carefully move the pears to a shallow dish. Bring the syrup to the boil again and reduce until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.