This recipe is a cold winter salad, based on ceviche or aguachile (we are just back from a holiday in Mexico), featuring almost-raw fish and crunchy raw Jerusalem artichokes, which are plentiful in our neighbour Kate’s garden at this time of year. Think of them like nutty radishes without the peppery bite. It’s also citrus season and blood oranges are the best winter sunshine!
Line-caught wild sea bass is a good choice for winter menus – sea bass should be left alone in spring and early summer to reproduce. Catching fish on a line (as opposed to by a net or trawl) is a low-impact fishing method, meaning fishermen can catch exactly the targeted species without wasteful by-catch or damaging the marine environment. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) consider European sea bass stocks as “of least concern” and line-catching them will hopefully keep it that way.
A great, cheaper, sustainable alternative is grey mullet – a very underused fish which has the perfect, firm and waxy white flesh for curing and marinating in this way. They are available all round the British coastline – ask your fishmonger in advance and he or she should be able to get some in for you. Ask for a large fish.
Wild sea bass, blood orange, artichokes & olive oil
The quantities below serve two people.
Blood orange & ginger dressing
50g blood orange juice (from one blood orange), strained through a sieve
3g / half a teaspoon of ginger juice (grate 20g fresh ginger and squeeze through a tea strainer or piece of muslin cloth- you can use the leftover pulp to make ginger tea). Add a little more if you like things punchy or if the ginger juice tastes milder
3g / half a teaspoon of fish sauce (in the restaurant we use a fish sauce called garum, which we make ourselves from whole fish, fish scraps and salt)
30g / 2 tablespoons good, spicy “new season” olive oil (we are using organic Terrafranta olive oil from a farm in Tuscany run by Inver’s friend Carlotta, who also grows lavender and keeps bees).
Mix everything together, and keep cool in the fridge while you prepare the fish.
Marinade the fish
Allow for approximately 80g of fish per person for a small starter-sized portion. Ask your fishmonger to skin the fillet for you and to remove the small pin bones that run up the middle of the fillet.
Dice the fish into pieces of approximately 1cm and put them in a bowl. Squeeze over the juice of half a lime and mix. Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes, in the fridge. The fish will turn milky-white on the outside, as it “cooks” in the citrus juice. Don’t leave it for too long or it can turn mushy. To prepare ahead, dice the fish and juice the citrus but keep them apart in the fridge till you’re almost ready to serve.
Meanwhile, prepare the salad vegetables
2 spring onions: thinly slice the spring onions.
2 Jerusalem artichokes: scrub them, peel them, then thinly slice them with a knife or mandoline. Drop the pieces into cold water with a squeeze of lemon to stop them discolouring.
1/2 a blood orange: peel and cut into small pieces, avoiding the white pith.
Sprigs of fresh herbs: choose one (or all!) of chervil, tarragon, apple marigold (aka tagetes), small mint leaves, and small basil leaves. Pick enough little sprigs to make a small handful per plate, and keep damp under a moist paper towel in the fridge.
1/2 fresh green serrano or jalapeno chilli (optional): split open & remove seeds, then slice thinly.
5g/ a tablespoon of toasted sunflower seeds.
Olive oil mayonnaise
In the restaurant we make our own from whole eggs, but you can buy a good jar of mayo from a deli or whole food shop.
First, take a dessert spoon of mayonnaise and blob in the centre of your serving plate, then spread it into a rough circle. You’ll build the salad on top of this so every bite has a smear of mayo within.
Drain the fish, adding the extra briny citrus juice to the dressing. Arrange the fish on the mayo circle, add the orange pieces, then distribute the chilli evenly over it all. Scatter over the sunflower seeds (Jerusalem artichokes are in the same family as sunflower seeds – here they add texture, a little fat and toasty depth). Pour or spoon over the dressing. Top with the artichokes & herbs.
Alongside, serve big crispy crackers or crisp breads (such as St Peter’s sourdough rye flatbreads), or as they do in Mexico, tostadas – crispy corn tortilla chips.
Recipe by Pam Brunton.
Photographs by Richard Gaston.
Pam Brunton and Rob Latimer speak to us about their focus on community and climate at their restaurant, Inver.