Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Brill roe with January King cabbage, anchovy mayonnaise, chantarelles, sage and butter

This is a slightly random, ‘bonus’ recipe that came about from the brill used in the last recipe on this blog. Whilst lifting the fillets from the massive fish, I noticed that some fairly impressive roes were concealed beneath the flesh. Usually fresh roes are not something that massively stirs my appetite, and certainly at work only a tiny minority of customers request them. But because of how special and expensive the fish that I was working with was, I was determined to use as much of it as possible. Having never cooked with fresh roes before, I wasn’t quite sure quite how to tackle them. Traditionally you are told to blanch them in water, but this normally applied to huge, bulging cod roes and the idea of anaemic, grey, veiny tubes didn’t really appeal. Instead I decided to cure them for a couple of hours in an attempt to firm them up slightly and reinforce the flavour. Having had no previous experience of handing these roes in the kitchen, I have no idea as to whether this made much different. But I was really satisfied with what turned into a really delicious plate of food. 

Making it was a bit of a nightmare though. The cooking process was really quick and simple, but I was fast running out of light. And as a food blogger there is nothing more frustrating that cooking up something only for it to get dark and the photos to look rubbish. I had already made the dish that I had intended for the day, last week’s recipe, and it was touch and go whether the light would hold out for much longer. The kitchen was a mess, heaped with leftover plates and extra ingredients. But I was spurred to seize the moment; I wouldn’t get another chance to cook with the roes so decided to risk it. It was certainly not the most therapeutic bit of cooking I’ve ever done, mostly involving crashing around the kitchen like a bull in a china shop, but in the end I just managed to scrape it.
Deciding what to accompany the roes with was also a bit of guesswork. I hadn’t planned to cook another recipe for this blog, so none of the usual thought had gone into it. All I had was what was laying around in the kitchen. I had bought a beautiful purple and green January King cabbage from the Quality Chop Shop that morning along with some chantarelle mushrooms. These were impulse buys that I thought I would use in my everyday cooking, but they were needed far sooner than anticipated. I always find sauces like mayonnaise or emulsions great in tying everything all together; the anchovies in this batch proved great companions with the mushrooms, rosemary and cabbage.
Serves 2
For the brill roe cure:
2 large brill roes 
200g sugar 
200g salt 
1 lemon, zest only 
3 sprigs of rosemary
To cook the brill roes:
2 good knobs of butter 
12 sage leaves 
3 sprigs of rosemary 
1 clove of garlic, lightly crushed 
A handful of chantarelle mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed
For the anchovy mayonnaise:
1 egg yolk 
4 anchovy fillets 
½ a lemon, juice only 
½ tsp Dijon mustard 
A splash of white wine vinegar 
200ml vegetable oil
For the King cabbage:
4 large leaves from a January King cabbage, torn 
A squeeze of lemon juice
To finish:
2 thin slices of sourdough

Lightly cure the brill roes to start off with. Pour the sugar, salt, rosemary and lemon zest into a food processor and finely chop to combine. Tip half into a shallow dish, then place the fresh brill roes on top. Cover with the second half of the cure, then cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Once cured, gently remove the roes from the dish and rinse before patting dry. 

Pre-heat the oven to 200⁰C.
For the anchovy mayonnaise, put the egg yolk, mustard, vinegar, black pepper and anchovies into a small food processor and combine well. With the engine still running, slowly pour the oil in until fully emulsified. Stir in the lemon juice and taste for seasoning. Spoon into a plastic bottle.
Scatter the pieces of January King onto a baking tray and toss in olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 6-8 minutes, or until starting to char and crisp at the edges. squeeze over the lemon juice and set aside.

Set a large frying pan on a medium-high heat. Add the butter and a tablespoon of olive oil along with the garlic, rosemary and sage. When hot, fry the roes for about 2 minutes on each side, basting continuously. Add the chantarelles for the last couple of minutes. Allow the butter to go a rich ‘nut brown’ colour.
While the roes are cooking, grill the thin sourdough slices with a little oil and salt until toasted.
To serve, put one slice of the sourdough on each plate and dot on 5 or 6 blobs of the mayonnaise. Add the roes and a few of the cabbage leaves, then arrange some of the mushrooms and sage leaves around the plate. Finish with a generous amount of the brown butter and a crack of pepper.

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