Paul Welburn’s smoked cod recipe is infused with fresh flavours of lemongrass and sea vegetables, with sea lettuce making an appearance in the beautifully light gnocchi
Served with charred compressed cucumber hearts and vibrant cucumber ketchup, this is a dish for those who enjoy clean, elegant flavour pairings.
For the lemongrass-smoked cod
• 6 cod fillets, each weighing 150g
• 150g of sea salt
• 1l water
• 3 bunches of lemongrass, cut into strips
For the compressed cucumber hearts:
• 2 cucumbers
For the mussel sauce:
• 500g of mussels, washed well, beards removed
• 375ml of white wine
• 250g of banana shallot, sliced
• 50g of ginger, sliced
• 3 garlic cloves, sliced
• 60g of butter
• 1 bunch of lemongrass
• 1l vegetable stock
• 250ml of cream
For the gnocchi:
• 300g of potato
• 1 egg
• 12g of salt
• 50g of Parmesan, grated
• 50g of sea lettuce, thoroughly washed and chopped
• 75g of 00 flour
For the cucumber ketchup:
• 1 1/2 cucumbers, peeled
• 55ml of Chardonnay vinegar
• 15g of sugar
• 4g of gellan gum
• 3g of salt
• 15g of shallots, brunoised
• 1 tsp coriander, chopped
• sea vegetables, such as samphire, sea purslane or monk’s beard
1 To make the compressed cucumbers, peel and discard the skin. Next, trim away the flesh of the cucumber so just a small amount remains around the seeds, keeping it round. Reserve these trimmings to make juice for the gel.
2 Cut the cucumber into 1cm slices, vacuum pack and leave in the bag for 1 hour.
3 For the sauce, heat a large pan with a tight-fitting lid until very hot. Quickly tip in the mussels and the wine and replace the lid. Shake well and cook for 1–2 minutes, or until all the shells of the mussels have opened. Strain the mussels and reserve the cooking liquor. Pick the mussels from their shells and reserve.
4 Sweat the shallots, ginger and garlic in butter until softened. Add the lemongrass and reserved mussel stock and reduce by half. Add the vegetable stock and cream and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve and reduce again by half.
5 Preheat the oven to 170˚C/gas mark 3.
6 To make the gnocchi, bake the potatoes in the oven until cooked through then pass through a drum sieve so you have a dry mash. While the potatoes are cooking, blend the eggs, salt, Parmesan and seaweed together with a hand blender.
7 Fold this through the mash then fold in the flour and gently knead until everything is incorporated. Divide the mixture into small pieces, each weighing 8–10g, and roll on a gnocchi board. Transfer to the freezer for 20 minutes to firm up.
8 Bring a large but shallow pan of water to the boil, reduce to a simmer and blanch the gnocchi until it floats. Refresh in iced water then drain well.
9 Juice the reserved cucumber trimmings and the whole cucumber for the ketchup.
10 For the cucumber ketchup, bring the chardonnay vinegar and sugar to the boil and set aside to cool. Bring 350ml of the cucumber juice to the boil, add the gellan and transfer to a blender. Blitz for 2 minutes, then pass through a fine sieve into a bowl over ice. Once set, blend with the remaining cucumber juice to form a smooth gel.
11 Brunoise 60g of the compressed cucumber. Mix 200g of cucumber gel with 30ml of the sugar and vinegar mixture and fold through the shallots, cucumber dice and coriander.
12 To prepare the cod, dissolve the salt in the water and brine the cod fillets for 15 minutes. Wash off and dry the fish on kitchen paper.
13 Place the lemongrass into a hot griddle pan with a little oil. Sit the cod fillets on top, cover with a pan. and cook for 5–6 minutes. Carefully remove and set aside. Meanwhile, blanch the sea vegetables in boiling water for 30 seconds.
14 Just before serving, remove the remaining compressed cucumber from the bag and caramelise on a chargrill or in a very hot pan until scorched. Colour the gnocchi in a non-stick pan with a little oil.
15 To serve, place a cod portion in the middle of the plate with pieces of compressed cucumber on either side. Serve 5 or 6 gnocchi per portion and a few mussels. Spoon over some of the cucumber ketchup and garnish with sea vegetables. Spoon over the sauce and serve.
Recipe courtesy of Paul Welburn, originally published on GreatBritishChefs.com