|Cure for the salmon|
Using soy as a seasoning in Western-style dishes isn't exactly a new idea - M.F.K Fisher was advocating using it as a steak marinade in the 1950s, and in French Provincial Cooking Elizabeth David records a sauce for lobster containing "10-12 drops Chinese soy sauce" dating back to the 1870s. Yet somehow as soon as I hear "Kikkoman" my mind leaps to Asian dishes and flavours. Getting myself out of that mind-set was quite a challenge!
I ended up coming up with two different dishes, a light but satisfying fish supper that involves hardly any effort, just a bit of preparation the night before, and a rich, comforting mutton hotpot for weekends when you can stick something in the oven and ignore it for hours.
Soy-cured salmon with lentils and basil gremolata (serves 2)
2 skin-on salmon fillets
50ml Kikkoman soy sauce
1tbs muscovado sugar
1tbs olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 400g can Puy lentils, drained and rinsed
200g baby plum tomatoes, halved
1tbs Kikkoman soy sauce, extra
Juice of an orange
80g baby spinach leaves, washed
50g blanched almonds
Grated zest of 1 orange
large handful basil leaves
1 clove garlic, extra
The night before, combine the Kikkoman soy sauce and sugar in a small ramekin, then smear it over the flesh of the salmon fillets. Put the salmon in a plastic box and pour the remaining soy cure around it. Cover and refrigerate over night.
Preheat oven to 200C.
In a shallow, ovenproof pan, saute the shallot and garlic in the olive oil until soft, then add the drained lentils and tomatoes, and season with the extra soy sauce and orange juice. Add the spinach leaves, washed and with the water still clinging to it (to create steam).
Remove the salmon fillets from the cure and pat dry with kitchen paper - the soy mixture will have penetrated the flesh and drawn out some of the liquid, making it a bit firmer.
Place the salmon on top of the spinach leaves and bake in the oven for 10 minutes, until the fish is cooked and the spinach wilted down.
When the salmon is cooked, lift the fillets onto your serving plates. Stir half the gremolata through the lentil and spinach mixture, then use the rest as a garnish.
|Kikkoman soy-cured salmon with lentils and basil gremolata|
Mutton hotpot (serves 4-6)
125ml red wine
75ml Kikkoman soy sauce
125ml water or light chicken stock (unsalted)
8 mutton chops
200g cubed lean mutton leg
1 tsp plain flour
2 small onions
2 fat cloves of garlic
3 sticks of celery
4 Maris Piper potatoes
Thyme, bayleaves, freshly ground black pepper
In a small saucepan, combine the wine, Kikkoman soy sauce, water or stock and sugar. Boil rapidly to reduce by half. Allow to cool while preparing the rest of the dish.
Preheat oven to 170C.
Stand the mutton chops (trimmed if they are very fatty) in the middle of a large casserole dish.
Dredge the cubed mutton in flour, seasoned with freshly ground black pepper.
Cut the onions, carrots, parsnips and celery into chunky dice. Slice the garlic thinly and combine the vegetables and garlic with the cubed mutton. Pack the vegetables and mutton around the chops, distributing the pieces evenly. Sprinkle with some thyme leaves.
Cut the potatoes into thick slices and put them in an overlapping ring around the chops. Pour the reduced wine and Kikkoman soy sauce evenly over the potatoes, ensuring they all get a bit. Tuck a couple of bay leaves into the chops. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper.
Cover the casserole tightly and bake for 3 hours, until the meat is meltingly tender. A little mustard is nice on the side.