Hot smoked salmon with pickled beetroot, goat’s curd and walnuts

This time of year is an incredibly vibrant time on the farm as the bees search for pollen, the beetroot are fattening up and watercress is filling the stream. The French tarragon has long since shrugged off its winter mulch and the fennel bulbs are swelling. This recipe is a perfect way to start a meal and it explores techniques of smoking and pickling, using ingredients foraged from the farm or supplied by local artisan producers. Loosely based on Kyle Street’s recipe from Al Brown’s book Depot, it serves 8 people.

HOT SMOKED SALMON

1kg salmon fillet with the pin bones removed (I use Akaroa salmon)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ cup flaky sea salt
1 smoker with lid or an old baking dish and foil
1 cup manuka chips for the smoker
Fennel fronds

Place the salmon, skin side down, onto a plate. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and salt together to form the ‘cure’. Cover the fish evenly with cure. Cover the plate with cling film and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. Remove the salmon from the refrigerator, wash off the cure and pat the salmon dry with paper towels. Place over a rack which fits neatly inside the smoker. Either do this next step outside on a BBQ or start your extractor fan now!
Put the manuka chips and fennel fronds in the middle of the bottom of the smoker and place the smoker over a high heat until the chips start to burn and smoke. Remove from the heat and put the rack, with the salmon on it, into the smoker and cover with the lid or with tin foil. Turn the heat down to medium and hot smoke the salmon for 15 minutes or until the salmon feels firm. Remove the rack from the smoker and then the salmon from the rack to a plate and cool.

PICKLED BEETROOT

9 baby beetroots, washed and stalks trimmed
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
½ cup water
For the pickle:
1 cup tarragon vinegar
1 cup cider vinegar
½ cup Watson & Son Manuka Blend honey
½ cup water

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Wash the beets and put them in a baking dish. Season with salt and pepper, add half a cup of water, cover with tinfoil and heat on the stove top until they start to steam. Place the dish in the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes or until tender when pierced with a skewer. Remove from the oven and cool. When cool, peel and slice the beets into chunks and put into a large, clean, sterilised preserving jar which is resting on a wooden board. Put the vinegar, the honey and another ½ cup of water into a saucepan and stir over a medium heat. When the mixture comes to the boil, simmer for five minutes then pour into the jar, over the beets. Cover the jar and refrigerate. It’s best if you can leave the pickled beets for 24 hours or more. Take the beets from the fridge half an hour before you are ready to serve so that they can come to room temperature.

 

TO SERVE

Handful of watercress, picked and washed
Fennel fronds, picked and washed
150g pottle of goat’s curd (Fresh Lush by The Drunken Nanny)
½ cup walnuts, shelled and toasted in a dry pan
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
2 lemons, juiced
Olivo Fennel-infused olive oil

Break the warm salmon into chunks, allowing 3 to 4 chunks per person. Pour off the vinegar solution from the beets and save for another day. Drain and dry the beets on paper towels. Pop the shelled walnuts into a dry frying pan and toast over a medium heat until starting to colour. Arrange the chunks of salmon and four pieces of beetroot on to an individual serving plate. Dot the plate with 3 to 4 pieces of goat’s curd. Scatter the walnuts, watercress and fennel fronds over the plate. For the final flourish, squeeze over lemon juice and some Olivo Fennel-infused olive oil, flaky sea salt and freshly milled black pepper.