Cure your craving

 

When you’ve got a yearning for sushi, but no reliable sushi place nearby, this quick fix can be just the treat, writes DOMINI KEMP

GOOD SUSHI PLACES are few and far between, on these shores. Fans of Michie Sushi in Dublin’s foodie village, Ranelagh, are well catered for, but time and again, what passes for sushi in Dublin would have New Yorkers doubled over with laughter. Japanese food in New York is pretty awesome.

The combination of sticky rice, at just the right temperature of cool, yet warm enough to release its starchy flavours against the cold, raw fish, lightly dunked into an appropriately shallow dish of soy sauce with a speckling of wasabi paste, is a wonderful thing to eat.

Despite how much I love eating it, there’s no way I would bound home and declare that tonight, it’s sushi for dinner, folks. But this recipe for cured salmon from a really gorgeous book, Bryn’s Kitchen by Welsh chef, Bryn Williams, may well give you the high-voltage sushi fix you might crave, without the hassle of making proper sushi.

The only real “musts” are that you must use good, flaky sea salt (Maldon is great for this) and you must cure the salmon for eight hours in your fridge. After that, there’s not much else to do.

To avoid having to chop up any salmon, ask your fish monger to skin it, remove the pin bones and cut it into bite-sized pieces. This meant that all I had to do when I got home was plonk the salmon pieces on to the bed of prepared salt that was in a roasting tray or gratin dish, toss them around (so the pieces got well coated with the salt), warp the tray in cling film and leave it to cure for about eight hours.

The avocado puree takes seconds to make and the soy sauce is sweetened – and therefore softened – with some honey. I decided to chop up the pickled ginger and add it to the soy sauce, instead of serving it separately, which made it round out even more.

The salmon really has an excellent flavour after being cured, so you don’t want to go overboard with the soy sauce.

The chocolate and orange brownies are also from his book, but they were far too dry on our first attempt, although they really did taste like a cake version of Terry’s chocolate orange. I couldn’t believe how the zest of one big orange really charged in with so much orangey flavour.

Anyway, on the second baking attempt, we increased the chocolate and reduced the cooking time, which made the end result a lot nicer. They are kind of grown-up brownies, mainly because of the orange zest, but they were a welcome treat after the wholesome but very tasty salmon.

Cured salmon with avocado and wasabi puree

Serves four to six

3 large tsps Maldon sea salt

3 tsps caster sugar

Zest of 1 lime, 1 lemon, 1 orange

Lots of black pepper

800g salmon fillets

Avocado puree

2 avocados

Juice of 2 limes

1 tsp wasabi paste

Salt and pepper

Sauce

50ml soy sauce

1 good tbsp honey

1 good tbsp pickled ginger, finely chopped baby leaves

Mix together the salt, sugar, citrus zest and pepper and scatter onto a baking tray or gratin dish.

The salmon needs to be skinned and pin bones need to be removed. Then you need to chop it into bite-sized pieces. This should leave you with about 600 grams.

Plop the salmon pieces on to the salt and then turn them so they are well coated. Wrap the tin or tray really well with cling film, so well that you can give the salmon a good shake around and scatter and coat it without having to open it up, move the fish about with a fork and re-apply the cling film. Refrigerate for eight hours or overnight.

When you are nearly ready to serve, rinse off the salmon pieces and pat them dry on a tea towel or paper towel. But be careful as the salmon can stick to the paper towel (in which case, just rinse it off and use a clean tea towel). Then chill again until you are ready to plate up.

Puree the avocadoes with the lime juice, wasabi and season with salt and pepper. Spread the puree on to a nice platter. Mix the soy sauce with the honey and ginger. Scatter some leaves on the avocado. Top with the salmon and then drizzle with some soy sauce. Serve on a big platter and let people help themselves.

Chocolate and orange brownies

350g dark chocolate

225g butter

5 eggs

400g caster sugar

200 g plain flour

Zest of 1 orange

Line a 20cm x 33cm b rownie tin with brown paper. Preheat an oven to 160 degrees/gas mark three.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water, along with the butter. Cut both into chunks before you stick them in the bowl. When it’s melted, you can stir with a spatula.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and sugar until they are pale, light and fluffy, then add the orange zest. Add the melted chocolate once it has cooled slightly, and then fold in the flour.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool in the tin and then decant and chop into 12 or more squares.