Salmon and Horseradish – Raw & Fresh

Some foods go together so well it is hard not to always have the same pairings. Smoked salmon and horseradish is one such example, but raw salmon or salmon caviar are equally horeraddishenhanced by the flavour of fresh horseradish.  The taste of store bought creamed horseradish is often blanketed by a sweet & sour mayo flavour, so if you can get it, make your own from fresh horseradish root (available at markets or ask your green grocer) or failing that go for minced horseradish and add it to the cream yourself.  With fresh horseradish root, peel it, finely grate it and mix with crème fraîche or pure cream, a little squeeze of lemon and salt. That’s it. The fresh horseradish may make you weep a little when you grate it and it can have quite a kick, so use however much you can handle. It also is fabulous with a steak, so won’t go to waste if you keep it for another day or two.

Salmon tartare is raw fish, so you will need to source the salmon from the market or a good fish monger and ask them to cut it fresh from the whole salmon. Don’t be tempted to add lemon juice to salmon tartare as it will “cook” the fish and for a really fresh tasting dish it’s best to combine the fish with the other mixed ingredients and plate just prior to serving. This version of salmon tartare I encountered in several bistros in France, where it is hugely popular for lunch accompanied by a glass of white wine – the French sure know how to break for lunch.

Tartare Au Deux Saumon (two salmon tartare)

For 4 people as an entrée

  • 400 g fresh cut salmon fillet
  • 100 g smoked salmon
  • 1 tbs capers, rinsed, patted dry with paper and chopped
  • 5 cornichon, finely diced
  • 1 tbs salad onion or spring onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs chives, finely sliced
  • 1 desert spoon dill, chopped
  • few drops tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tbs light olive oil
  • 1 tbs grape seed or sunflower oil
  • zest of a lemon

To prepare the fresh salmon take out the pin bones with a pair of tweezers. Lay the salmon skin side down and while holding the tail tip of skin ease the flesh off the skin by pushing and slicing with a very sharp knife at a 45 degree angle. Cut the fillet into two or three 0.5 cm thick slices and place in a glass dish in the freezer for 15 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. Mix all the other ingredients except the fish together in a bowl and store in the fridge until ready to assemble and eat.
Cut the fish slices into 0.5 cm strips and then cut into small dice. Do the same with the smoked salmon slices. Mix the fish together. Refrigerate but keep separate from the other ingredients until ready to serve.
Mix the fish and other flavourings together, adjust seasoning if necessary and plate approximately 2 heaped tablespoons per person.
Serve with a small  mound of pickled, shredded cucumber and green papaya topped with black sesame seeds and a good smear of fresh horseradish cream.

Hiramasa Kingfish

Hiramasa Kingfish is a superb fish with a firm, moist, large flaked flesh that really shines as sashimi or carpaccio but is also excellent cooked and smoked. I haven’t come across it fresh for a while as it seems to be snapped up by the restaurant trade but as a sustainable* product of aquaculture company, Clean Seas, in the Spencer Gulf, production has ramped up steadily to meet demand here and overseas. The name Hiramasa is Japanese for kingfish and this branding is used to differentiate it from wild caught Yellowtail Kingfish.  Check out the website, Hiramasa Kingfish, for details on how it is produced sustainably, recipes and stockist in Melbourne. Claringbolds at the Prahran Market, Prosser Seafood, QVM and Canals Seafood also have it.  Smoked kingfish is also one of many smoked fish varieties by  Harris Smokehouse.

* aquaculture does use large amounts of fish meal and oil for feed, however R&D by Clean Seas on improved formulation and growth has halved its dependency on fish meal.

Curing Salmon – Gravlax

Ask the fishmonger to cut a side of salmon off the whole fish for you. You can prepare about half a side (450 g) or the whole side depending on how much you think you will use.

  • 460 g salmon
  • 22g cooking salt
  • 24 g sugar
  • 2 tsp fennel seed, ground
  • 1/2 bunch dill, chopped

Remove the pin bones from the fillet using tweezers, sprinkle thickly with salt, sugar, ground fennel seed, and chopped dill (include stalks).  Leave in glass or similar dish covered for 2 days in the fridge. Remove the fish. There will be an accumulation of liquid from the fish, discard this. Wipe off the salt and sugar on the fish and the gravlax is ready to use. The cured fish will feel dry to the touch, having lost about 10 percent of its water, and will appear glassy as in the photo. Slice very thinly from the tail end and serve with lemon, fresh dill and a horseradish cream. To store, wrap in cling film in a sealed container and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.