Edible flowers: A sign of the coming summer

JP McMahon: Some chefs don’t like flowers, they find them too feminine

Heap of fresh blue borage flowers

Heap of fresh blue borage flowers

 

Friday was the first day of flowers. By that I mean the first day this year that one of our growers arrived at our door with heaps of edible flowers. Borage, marigold, viola, peas and brassica: they were all beautiful and shimmered with a sense of the coming summer.

Some chefs don’t like flowers. They find them too feminine. I, however, love sprinkling them over dishes, whether it be a crisp piece of pork belly or a delicately poached piece of fish in brown butter. 

Poaching fish in brown butter is probably not on everyone’s culinary radar at present, perhaps due to our ongoing irrational fear of fat. It has already been proven that fat is not the enemy, but this doesn’t stop people turning to sugar instead. Have you ever found a low sugar yogurt with regular fat content?

There is nothing as beautiful as brown butter (okay, maybe my seven-year-old daughter Martha in pigtails).

Pop a half a block of butter in a pot and bring it to the boil. Simmer until the butter goes brown and nutty. Some people like to strain away the crisp milk solids, but not I. I love the way it looks on a piece of white fish, such as pollock or cod.

It only takes about five minutes to cook a small piece of fish this way. Just lower the fish – cod is good – into the warm butter and wait for it to begin to break apart. Don’t worry if it falls apart. It’ll still taste great.

I would choose taste over presentation any day. That’s why at home, I just brush a whole fish with brown butter and sea salt and roast it the oven, head and all. About 15-20 minutes should do it, depending on the size of the fish. Or take it to 55 degrees as checked with a meat thermometer.

Edible flowers scattered over whole baked fish (such as John Dory or plaice) make a wonderful sight and will brighten up your Sunday lunch. As a side dish, the Irish asparagus should be here soon. Roast the spears off in a little butter, thyme and sea salt.  

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