Fosh and Food: Salty sensations in Mallorca

Forward-looking chefs are always on the look out for new and exciting ingredients to liven up their menus and sea vegetables are slowly becoming the next big thing. They are also a great idea if you need to introduce a salty sensation on the plate and impress your guests. Sea vegetables packed with iron, calcium, iodine and vitamins might be fashionable right now but Archaeologists claim sea vegetables have been eaten in Asia for about 10,000 years. In Mallorca, many cooks are starting to experiment with a wild sea fennel known locally as “Fenoll Mari”. It grows all around the Island’s coastal areas and it is generally pickled in vinegar and served as a traditional garnish with a classic “Pa amb oli” ( Bread with tomatoes). It shares flavour characteristics with the herbal fennel, specifically a slight anise taste and herbaceous scent. As sea herbs go, sea fennel is one of the more versatile. Its fern-like leaves offer an elegant garnish, and when used in puréed and pickled applications its flavour really shines. At Marc Fosh restauarnt we often make a sea fennel and green apple jelly to serve with marinated sardines and a chilled almond & olive oil soup. It’s a delicious combination!

Sometimes known as poor man’s asparagus or sea asparagus, Samphire is without doubt my favourite sea vegetable. It is called “salicornia” here in Spain and grows abundantly on the shorelines of northern Europe. I have fond memories of spending long days picking samphire on the east coast of England as a child. It has a crisp texture and tastes of the sea. It is particularly useful for vegetarians and vegans who want that seafood taste without the animal ingredients. It works really well all types of fish, eggs and roast lamb or chicken. It also makes the most wonderful risotto! When you buy or find sea fennel and samphire, wash them thoroughly under running water before use. Don’t add salt to the cooking water, as it’s already salty enough.

Grilled Mackerel with lemon samphire & cherry tomato-caper salsa

Serves 4

4 Spanish mackerel
300g Samphire, washed & trimmed
Lemon wedges for serving

Cherry tomato-caper salsa

3tbps olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
300g cherry tomatoes, halved
3tbsp capers
Juice of one lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the samphire for 2 minutes and drain.

2 In a bowl, toss the cherry tomatoes, capers and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper.

3 Score the mackerel on both sides at 2cm intervals almost down to the bone.

4 Brush them with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

5 Grill over a high heat for 6-7 minutes, turning once, until lightly charred and cooked through.

6 Transfer the fish to plates with the samphire and top with the salsa.

7 Serve with lemon wedges.

Smoked salmon & samphire omelette

Serves 1

40g samphire, washed & trimmed
40g smoked salmon, chopped
3 eggs freshly grated nutmeg, optional
1tbsp crème fraîche
1tsp olive oil
1tsp butter

1 Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the samphire for 2 minutes and drain.

2 In a bowl, toss the cherry tomatoes, capers and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper.

3 Score the mackerel on both sides at 2cm intervals almost down to the bone.

4 Brush them with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

5 Grill over a high heat for 6-7 minutes, turning once, until lightly charred and cooked through.

6 Transfer the fish to plates with the samphire and top with the salsa.

7 Serve with lemon wedges.

Creamy bomba rice with sea fennel & soller prawns

Serves 4

250g Soller prawns, peeled
30g fresh sea fennel, finely chopped
1l fish or shellfish stock (use the heads from the prawns)
100g finely grated mahon cheese
300g Bomba rice
1tbsp chopped chives
1tbsp crème fraiche
1tbsp olive oil
50g unsalted butter
1 shallot chopped finely
1 crushed clove of garlic
Seasoning

1 Add enough oil to cover the bottom of a thick-bottomed pan, heat and add shallots and garlic.

2 Sweat gently until they start to break down.

3 Add the rice, sea fennel and stir. Add a little hot fish stock until the rice is just covered continue to stir until all the liquid has been absorbed by the rice.

4 Over a medium heat, continue to add the stock gradually and stir until all the stock has been absorbed and the rice has softened.

5 Add the peeled prawns, crème fraiche, grated mahon cheese and season to taste. The rice should be light and creamy.

6 Stir in the olive oil & butter and garnish with fresh sea fennel leaves.

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