Simple pleasures

Cured mullet with pickled radish

pickled relishAt the back of my fridge you’ll find a jar or two of pickled herring from Ikea. I always stock up when I go, it’s the highlight of the trip.

I get excited about any food that is cured, pickled, smoked, preserved or fermented and although I don’t need to travel across the desert with nothing but a camel and a bag of dried meat for company, taking a fresh ingredient and through salt or smoke or just air, turning it into something longer lasting makes me feel manly, much like standing around a barbeque.

There is a sharpness to pickled fish that really gives it a zing. Here, I’ve gone for grey mullet rather than the more traditional herring, for the simple reason that my fishmonger didn’t have any. And it was a great success. The radish and cucumber give a great crunch and a slightly Asian feel to the dish and the dill brings it back to its Swedish beginnings.

Serves:                          4 as a starter
Preparation time:      10 minutes plus curing
Cooking time:             curing and pickling only

For the pickled radish:
16 radishes, sliced as thinly as possible
2cm cucumber, sliced as thinly as possible
1 head of Shimeji mushrooms, sliced from the base or 100g button mushrooms
25g xylitol or stevia powder
70ml cider vinegar
1 tbsp Mirin
2 tsp Japanese rice wine
A few sprigs of mustard cress
1tsp toasted cumin seeds

For the mullet:
2 mullet fillets (400g)
1 small bunch of dill, chopped
1 shallot, sliced
1tbsp juniper berries, slightly crushed
1tbsp pink peppercorns, slightly crushed
1tsp Szechuan peppercorns
25g salt
25g xylitol or truvia sugar substitute
4 tsp caviar/lumpfish roe

1. Mix together the dill, juniper, shallot, pink and Szechuan peppercorns, salt and xylitol then sprinkle half of this into a shallow baking tray or dish.
2. Lay the mullet fillets on top of the salt mix and cover with the remainder. Wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge overnight or for at least four hours.
3. An hour before you want to serve, remove the fish from the fridge and rinse well then pat dry with kitchen paper.
4. Mix together the pickled radish ingredients and set aside for 45 minutes.
5. Serve the radish with the mullet and a teaspoon of caviar on each. Serve with a thin slice of toasted rye sourdough.

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