When creating this next dish I really wanted to showcase fennel in all its glory as well as demonstrate just how versatile an ingredient it is. This dish is great, especially for a dinner party menu as it serves 4. It’s also stress free to prepare and more importantly has that WOW factor we all aim for when entertaining. Both the fennel puree and pickled cucumber salad can be prepared beforehand. In fact the cucumber can be pickled days in advance, and the puree can be made the night before and reheated before serving.
Looking for an impressive dish for your next dinner party? Here it is!
1) Place white wine vinegar, sugar and ½ tsp of fennel seeds in a small pot and bring to the boil. Continue to boil for 3 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.
2) Meanwhile using a vegetable peeler, peel along the length of the cucumber creating long thin ribbons, stopping when you get to the seeds. Do this all over the cucumber. Place your cucumber in the pickle mixture and set aside until needed (if you are doing this step ahead of time, place your pickled cucumber along with the pickling liquid in a container with a fitted lid and keep in the fridge until you need it)
3) Place the butter in a pot on medium heat. Once butter has melted add the fennel and the rest of the fennel seeds. Season with salt and pepper and sweat down for 10 minutes or until your fennel is translucent.
4) Next pour in your milk and water and bring to the boil. Once it reaches a boil turn the heat back down to about medium, and cook for about 20 minutes or until the fennel is completely cooked through. Keep an eye on your fennel as you don’t want all the liquid to evaporate.
5) Once your fennel is cooked drain the liquid reserving about half as you may need to add some to your puree. Place your cooked fennel in a blender and turn it onto the highest speed, if you find that the fennel isn’t blending add a tablespoon at a time of the reserved cooking liquid. Blend your puree for about 3 minutes. (The consistency you’re after is somewhere between mash potato and pumpkin soup)
6) Next pass your puree through a fine sieve using the back of a spoon to help push it through; this will help remove any grainy bits. If you don’t have a fine sieve that’s fine, just blend your puree for another 2 minutes. Pour your puree into a clean pot and set aside.
7) Pour the rest of the oil into a frying pan on medium-high heat, while it’s heating up pat dry your salmon fillets with a paper towel. Season the skin and the flesh with a couple of good pinches of salt. When your pan is hot place the salmon into the pan skin side down (you should hear the skin sizzle straight away, if it doesn’t your pan isn’t hot enough- remove the salmon and try again after 30 seconds). Cook your salmon for 5-6 minutes skin side down then flip it over, cooking it 3-4 minutes flesh side down for medium.
8) To serve, place a couple of spoons of puree on the bottom of your plate and top it with the salmon. Place your cucumber salad on the side with a slice of lemon and season one last time with salt.
Remember the secret to the perfect dish is to cook with love (and a little va va voom) xx