Choucroute de la Mer with Riesling

Bofinger

The traditional Choucroute Garnie or d’Alsa­ce comes with various sausages, smoked pork belly, confit de canard, steamed potatoes and Dijon mustard. Combine it with a glass of Riesling and you will have a great dinner. Perhaps a bit heavy on the stomach, but the sauerkraut itself will make things lighter.
A very interesting variation is called Choucroute de la Mer. We have fond memories of restaurant Bofinger in Paris. They serve an excellent Choucroute de la Mer with haddock, salmon, sea bass, king prawns, boiled potatoes and horseradish butter. The haddock is actually smoked haddock, which works really well with the choucroute. The sharp horseradish is an excellent alternative for the Dijon mustard. When in Paris, go to Bofinger and order Choucroute de la Mer!

For some reason it’s hard to find smoked haddock where we live, so we tried smoked herring (kippers). Worked very well. And because we wanted to give the fish a deeper, fermented flavour (after all, the choucroute is fermented white cabbage) we marinated the fish in miso before frying it. Excellent result, deep and intense flavours and not to heavy on your stomach.

Wine Pairing

We very much enjoyed a glass of Riesling with our Choucroute de la Mer. We decided to buy a bottle of 2017 Riesling Kalkmergel, produced by Weingut Rings. It’s a classic, organic Riesling from the Pfalz in Germany. It is juicy and fresh with balanced acidity. Great combination with the sauerkraut, the fish and the umami from the miso.

What You Need

  • For the Marinated Fish
    • Salmon
    • Haddock
    • Miso
  • For the Choucroute
    • One Shallot
    • 500 grams of Sauerkraut
    • 10 – 20 Juniper Berries
    • Dry White Wine
    • Olive Oil
    • Bay Leaf
    • Butter
  • For the Horseradish Butter
    • Horseradish
    • Soft Butter
  • For the Mash
    • Parsnip
    • Jerusalem Artichoke
    • Parsley Root
    • Or a combination of these
    • White Pepper
    • Crème Fraiche
    • Olive Oil
  • 4 Large Shrimps
  • Kippers

What You Do

This recipe requires a bit of planning!
The fish needs to be marinated for five days. Use a shallow bowl, cover the bottom with miso and place the fish on top of it. Now cover the fish with miso, making sure it’s completely coated. It requires a bit of patience. Cover the bowl with foil and transfer to the refrigerator for 5 days. Check every day and if necessary add some miso. We use miso with less salt (and more flavours). After five days the salmon will have a deep red colour and the white haddock will be also have an beautiful red/brown colour. The miso marinate will also change the structure of the fish, so carefully monitor when frying. We have the best results with thinner pieces of fish.
Four days later (so one day before your want to serve the choucroute de la mer): taste the sauerkraut. If too much acidity, then squeeze and remove some of the liquid. Cut and slice a shallot. Crush the juniper berries (feel free to add a few more, we just love them). Now combine the sauerkraut with the shallot and the berries. Mix. Add white wine, a generous splash of olive oil and a bay leaf. Coat a heavy (iron) oven dish with butter and add the mix. Put aluminium foil on top of it, making sure you press it on the sauerkraut (as if it’s a cartouche). Leave for 4-6 hours in the oven on 80° Celsius or 175° Fahrenheit. Cool and store in the refrigirator for the next day.
Warm the dish in the oven (same temperature, let’s say one hour) and in parallel make the mash. Finish with some crème fraiche, a dash of excellent olive oil and white pepper. Keep warm.
Combine the soft butter with the grated horseradish. Taste and adjust. Set aside.
Clean the prawns without removing the head
Make sure you have three nice, warm pans. One heavy iron skillet for the prawns, two non-sticky ones for the salmon and the haddock.
Wash and dry the salmon and the haddock. Decide on the order of frying. We started with the salmon. We like to have a bit of caramelisation on the salmon.
In parallel (planning!) remove the skin from the kippers. Transfer to the the oven and grill two minutes on the former skin side. Turn, drizzle with some olive oil and grill for another three minutes.
Make sure salmon, haddock, shrimps and kippers are ready to be served at the same time.
Serve the sauerkraut on a warm plate and decorate with salmon, kippers, haddock and shrimps. Add the mash. And don’t forget the horseradish butter!

Choucroute de la Mer © cadwu
Choucroute de la Mer © cadwu

Last Week’s Special

Kimchi Soup

A very tasty soup, nice as a starter to your Korean evening or as a quick and nourishing lunch. Kimchi soup can be made with pork belly or with tofu. We prefer the vegetarian option.
It’s not difficult to prepare kimchi from scratch (see below) but you can also buy kimchi from your local Korean shop.

Here is what you need (soup)

  • Kimchi
  • Onion
  • Garlic clove
  • Spring onion
  • Soybean paste (Korean Doenjang or Japanese Miso)
  • Red chili paste (Korean Gochujang)
  • Fish sauce
  • Tofu

Start by chopping the onion, the garlic and the spring onion. Keep some spring onion for decoration. Fry the garlic and onions in some oil. Add the soybean paste, the red chili paste and the chopped kimchi. Stir fry the mixture because this will enhance the flavours. Add water and leave for 15 minutes. Taste the soup and add fish sauce, soybean paste or red chili paste to your taste. Leave to simmer for another 15 minutes. Then add chunks of tofu and allow to simmer for another 5 minutes. Decorate with spring onion.

Kimchi background

Hipster food or the traditional Korean way of preserving cabbage? The latter of course. But we must admit, all the foodie-talk about Kimchi inspired us to join a workshop at Mediamatic in Amsterdam. Marrit Kuyng Ok Schakel ran an excellent workshop and not only did she share her passion for Korean food and Kimchi, she also showed us how to make our own Kimchi using white cabbage.

Making Kimchi is all about fermentation: a controlled biological process to change ingredients into food that can be preserved. Fermentation is at the heart of our food production. Beer, cheese, wine, bread, yoghurt, tea, coffee, classic Dutch haring et cetera: fermentation is an essential aspect.

 

Here is what you need (kimchi)

  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Salt
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Red chili paste (Korean Gochujang)
  • Fish sauce
  • Spring Onion

The quickest way to make kimchi is by thinly slicing the cabbage, add salt, grated ginger, sliced garlic, red chili paste and fish sauce. The preparation is simple: just mix with your hands (do so for 5 minutes) store in a jar and wait for 5 – 10 days. The fermentation will produce some carbon dioxide so make sure to open the jar on a daily basis. The smell could be rather powerful in the beginning. In this case the amount of salt required depends on how much fish sauce was used. We suggest tasting the mixture and expect between 1% and 2%.

The better way to make kimchi? Slice the cabbage, starting at the bottom, but not completely. Tear the halves apart. Leave the cabbage in water with salt (5% is recommended) for 1-2 hours. Remove the cabbage, wash with cold water and taste if not too salty. If so, wah a bit more. Make a mixture of red chili paste, fish sauce, garlic and ginger. Using your hands, gently work the paste into the cabbage until all leaves are thoroughly coated. Move to a jar and leave to ferment

Also try making kimchi with Daikon, White Cabbage or Pak Choi. We will continue the experiment by using chicory.