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

Dashi with Matsutake and Shrimps

Celebrate Autumn

This year seems to be an exceptionally good year for Matsutake. Antonio Carluccio once described it is a much-overrated mushroom but we dare to disagree. Just smell it! Pine, pine, pine. A unique mushroom. We tried making this soup with shiitake, but the result is not as refined, delicate and well-balanced. The key elements are of course the (home-made) dashi, the matsutake and the shrimps. Kamaboko (made from processed seafood) and Mitsuba (Japanese parsley) add colour (and some extra flavour) to the dish.

What You Need

  • Dashi
    • 0,5 l of Water
    • 10 gram of Konbu
    • 10 gram of Katsuobushi
  • 75 gram of Matsutake
  • 2 Shrimps
  • Taru Sake
  • Light Soy Sauce
  • Yuzu
  • Kamaboko
  • (Mitsuba)

Sake Pairing

If you want to serve a drink with the soup, then serve taru sake. This is a dry sake characterized by its refreshing taste and the wooden aroma of Yoshino cedar. A wonderful link to the matsutake. And if you bought a bottle of taru sake, then please use this sake for marinating the shrimps.

What You Do

With a damp cloth clean the matsutake. Be careful not to remove the skin. The root should be cut like a pencil. Clean the shrimps and cut lengthwise in two. Let marinade in two tablespoons of sake and transfer to the refrigerator for an hour. Gently warm the dashi, add a small tablespoon of sake and a similar quantity (or less) of soy sauce. Cut the matsutake in 8 similar slices and add to the soup. After a few minutes (depending on the size of the matsutake) add four slices of kamaboko and the shrimps. Taste and add some more soy sauce and or yuzu if needed. Serve immediately when the shrimps are ready. If available add some mitsuba.

Monkfish Spanish Style

Rape a la Marinera

In October 2016 Jamie Oliver was criticised for making paella the wrong way. He dared adding chorizo to one of the most Spanish dishes ever. Paella should be made with rabbit, snails, chicken, beans, saffron and rice. How dare he insult all of Spain by adding chorizo to his Paella? Naked chef or not, ambassador of healthy food or not, no one touches Paella.

Rape a la Marinera is among our favourites because it’s all about monkfish, which is such a tasty fish. The monkfish is presented with a generous tomato sauce, large shrimps, vongole and bread. What better way to enjoy life!

In this recipe we will probably do a few things very wrong, but never mind, simply don’t tell your Spanish friends.

Wine Pairing

We very much enjoyed a glass of Spanish Verdejo. In our case a bottle of Monteabellon Rueda. In general wines made from the Verdejo grape combine very well with fish. The wine comes with the right acidity, giving freshness to the wine. It has floral aromas typical for the Verdejo grape. You may recognize the aromas of banana and exotic fruit.

What You Need

  • Monkfish
  • Olive Oil
  • Optional
    • Bay Leaf
    • Saffron
  • 4 Large Shrimps
  • Vongole (clams, Vongola Veraci)
  • White wine
  • Bouquet Garni

What You Do

The day before serving Rape a la Marinera make the tomato sauce.
Start by cleaning the monkfish and remove the skin where necessary. Clean the shrimps by removing the intestinal tract. Leave the head and the tail. Check the vongole and discard ones that are broken. In general vongole don’t need much cleaning. Vongola Verace are tasty, slightly sweet and juicy; great for Spaghetti Vongole and Rape a la Marinera.

In a large skillet fry the monkfish. When coloured add the sauce. Gently heat the sauce and cover the fish with it. Baste (arroser) and continue to do so. In parallel add some wine to a pan with a bouquet garni and let gently cook for 5 minutes.
Now it’s about timing! Add the raw shrimps to the pan with the monkfish, cover the shrimps with the sauce, continue basting both the fish and the shrimps. Add the vongole to the pan with the white wine. Cook quickly until open. Add some of the cooking juices of the vongole to the tomato sauce, mix, taste and add a touch of pepper. Serve the vongole on top of the monkfish and shrimps.
Serve with crusted bread.

White Asparagus with Scrambled Eggs and Shrimps

Salmon

For some reason smoked salmon and white asparagus are seen as a match made in heaven. Some even refer to this combination as being ‘classic’ or ‘Flemish’. The combination is complemented with dill, sauce Gribiche, parsley, tarragon or even sugar.

Smoked salmon can either be hot-smoked or cold-smoked, but in both cases it must be eaten cold or at room temperature. When warmed (for instance by wrapping it around hot asparagus) you get this iffy, fatty flavour and a palate that can’t be hidden by lots of dill or tarragon. The warmth turns the fat of the salmon (especially the cold-smoked salmon) into something nasty with train oil taste. We could imagine poached salmon with warm asparagus or a salad of smoked salmon with cold white asparagus. But honestly, close your eyes, smell and taste. Match made in heaven? Really?

White asparagus and eggs, that’s a match made in heaven. For instance à la Flamande (with boiled egg, clarified butter, parsley and optional ham) or with scrambled eggs, chives and shrimps.

Shrimps?

Indeed, with small excellent shrimps, preferably freshly peeled; not used as an ingredient but as an element of flavour. The first time we had this combination we were surprised by the role of the shrimps. The salty, intense taste in balance with the very rich eggs and the sweet-bitter asparagus is a very clever idea. The chives in the scrambled eggs lift the dish to a higher level.
Unfortunately we don’t know who created it, so we offer the recipe with a caveat.

Scrambled eggs, it seems obvious and simple, but actually we are looking for a version that is more like a sauce. Gordon Ramsey’s instructive and hilarious movie shows you how to make scrambled eggs, so no need for us to explain. You need to stop a bit earlier, given it needs to have a sauce-like consistency.

Wine Pairing

We decided to drink a glass of Rivaner from the house Gales in Luxembourg. The aroma made us think of grapefruit, ripe melon and apple. The taste is elegant with a touch of sweetness, acidity and minerality. Ideal with our dish! The sweetness with the asparagus, the acidity in combination with the scrambled eggs and chives, the minerality with the shrimps. And the taste is surprisingly long lasting, which is perfect with such a rich dish.

What You Need

  • 6 White Asparagus
  • 2 Eggs
  • Butter
  • Chives
  • Crème Fraiche
  • White Pepper
  • A Few Small (unpeeled) Shrimps

What You Do

Peel the asparagus and steam for 20 minutes or so. They should have a bite. Prepare scrambled eggs à la Ramsay. Serve the asparagus with the scrambled eggs and just a few shrimps. Done!

 

Red Gurnard with Shrimps

Red And Blue

Such a beautiful fish! The Red or Tub Gurnard (or Roter Knurrhahn, Rode Poon, Galinette or Grondin Perlon) has a bright red body with blue, greenish pectoral fins. And isn’t the armoured head with the big eyes impressive? And on top of this they are capable of making a drumming, grunting sound.

For some obscure reason they have a poor reputation in the kitchen. You may find them as an ingredient in a stew or soup, but on its own? Not really. A pity, because it’s actually a delicious fish with firm fillets that keep their shape when prepared. Perhaps the gurnard comes with a more acquired taste (meaning that it’s not the kind of fish that is suitable for people who enjoy eating fish fingers). Some say the taste reminds them of shrimps, which would be interesting, given the Gurnard feeds on crabs, shrimps and other invertebrates living in the sediment.

We combine the Gurnard with shrimps and a classic Bisque, made with the shells of unpeeled shrimps. Agreed, it’s a bit of extra work, but it’s worthwhile.

Wine Pairing

A glass of Pinot Blanc or Gris will be a nice accompaniment to the dish. Light and fresh with a touch of sweetness. Chablis will also be nice.

What You Need

  • 2 Gurnards (preferably cleaned)
  • Butter
  • For the Bisque
    • 200 grams of unpeeled small grey shrimps
    • 1 small Tomato
    • 1 Shallot
    • Olive oil
    • Bouquet Garni (thyme, bay leaf, parsley)
    • Cognac

What You Do

Start by peeling the shrimps. It’s a very simple, mindfulness exercise. Remove the heads and discard. Use the shells for the bisque and transfer the bodies of the shrimps to the refrigerator. Chop the shallot and the tomato. Gently glaze the shallot for 10 minutes or so in olive oil. Add the shells and increase the heat for a few seconds. Add the tomato, some water and the bouquet garni. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Pass the liquid through a fine sieve. Make sure you get all the lovely juices. Add a splash of cognac and reduce the liquid until it’s powerful. Cool and store in the refrigerator.
In a non-sticky pan heat some butter and fry the gurnards. Isn’t the colour beautiful? In parallel warm the bisque. Just before serving add the shrimps. Don’t cook them (cooking will make them rubbery), just a bit of warmth will do the trick.
Serve the gurnard on a warm plate and dress with the bisque and shrimps.