THERE are a few theatrical tricks that modern trendy restaurants use these days.
Food smoking at the table is one but we also use dry ice especially for desserts, and smooth purees to accompany a range of dishes to add flavours and colours.
Souvide slow cooking for tender meat that has been marinated and cooked gently in its marinade but keeps it rare, gels for dressing plates to add vibrant colour and intense flavours and savoury granitas and snows … are just a few.
Smoking is a great way of adding theatre and flavour to a dish. A few years ago we started by smoking duck at the table as a tasting dish and now we smoke our own salmon but actually at your table.
The other week a client complained that another client was smoking at the table inside.
I looked over and saw the smoke pouring from his table. It did look like cigar smoke and I laughed out loud.
This may all sound complicated but it’s really easy and it will make a piece of salmon a really special and memorable dish.
Another new trend over here is brunch. It has been on trend in the UK for many years and in New York for about 20 years but over here in Spain it is only just starting to get popular.
Mindful of that I am planning on launching a new brunch menu concept at a friend’s restaurant on the beach in the next few weeks.
I will be able to tell you more when I know that we are ready, at the moment we are a few weeks off.
On the menu I have put things like smoked salmon with scrambled eggs but smoked at the table so you really get the fresh smoky vapours, aromas and flavours.
We will also have classic Eggs Benedict and a really great Waldorf salad dish with free-range chicken. Some of these old retro dishes are really back on trend but given a modern twist of course.
Nowadays you can buy smoking guns in all sizes where you ignite the wood like a lighter and then the smoke bellows out of a pipe.
Just as effective and a lot cheaper is to take some twigs from a good tree that have fallen off and dried out.
We use the twigs from dried Rioja vines but you could use oak or cherry or fig etc. You then ignite the twigs in a naked flame and when it’s burning, you blow it out.
That will create enough smoke to fill a small glass cloche so that you hold and can see the smoke inside.
When the dish has had about three to five minutes in the smoke you lift the cloche and eat the salmon. The flavours are amazing. This works with other fish or meat too.
I like to smoke scallops which are sitting on black pudding, with truffle sauce around and we sometimes smoke our famous crispy duck under the cloche which gives the duck a nice complexity.
Enjoy playing around with this and if you have any problems or queries you can always email me!
House smoked, salmon, prawn ceviche seaweed
For the salmon
I buy fresh Norwegian salmon and cure it with 60 per cent sugar and 40 per cent salt. The salt and sugar are mixed together and then you pack it on the flesh of the fish and wrap it in cling film then leave it in the fridge for 48 hours.
After this time you wash off the salt/sugar and then you can marinade the salmon flesh down in a deep tray with things like gin with lime and tonic or beetroot juice and lime, or sangria, tequila etc.
That gives it a really modern sophisticated twist.
Then after marinating it for about eight hours, lift the fish out, pat dry and brush with olive oil.
You can then slice it thinly for the final stage, the smoking.
However, a shortcut would be to buy some gravadlax of salmon pre sliced and drizzle with gin and lime and then smoke.
A lot easier but not anything as great as the former.
Ingredients for four
Approx. 500grm of salmon cured (or gravadlax) 4/5 dried twigs from good trees or vines
A little caviar to garnish
For the ceviche (or you can use home-made scrambled egg using free-range eggs if serving brunch)
8 large cooked prawns
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon of fresh chopped coriander leaf
A pinch of mild fresh chilli chopped into tiny pieces or a little mild chilli sauce
For the seaweed
We buy a natural seaweed and process it ourselves to bring out the sweet tangy flavours, but you can buy it already done from the Japanese section of stores like Carrefour.
Buy approx150grm of sweet algae from a Japanese store (alternatively you can use salad underneath chopped finely)
• Lay four thin slices of salmon in a rectangle shape about 6cm wide and 10cm long.
• Chop the cooked prawns into small pieces and put in a bowl and season with the fresh lime juice, chilli, coriander
• Put a spoonfull of this mix onto each piece of the salmon and roll up so that you have four roulades (rolls) of salmon.
• Put a little algae or chopped salad on a plate and top with the roulade of salmon. Finish with a little caviar on top.
• Now place a glass cloche (dome) on top of each salmon and ignite your wood being careful not to burn yourself!
• Lift the cloche slightly and insert the smoking vine under the glass cloche. When the cloche is filled sufficiently with smoke (about one minute) close the cloche tightly to hold the smoke in.
• Present the plate to your guest but leave the glass cloche in place for a few minutes. After three minutes remove the cloche and immediately eat the dish.