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Flavours from childhood

  • Published at 02:52 pm November 23rd, 2017
Today's recipe is about a childhood memory for me, then turning it into a modern restaurant quality dish. If you were born and brought up in Bangladesh like me, most likely illish (hilsa) fish is one of your favourites. For me the best way to have it is just to deep fry the cutlets with spices and serve it with fried onion, chillies and hot steamed rice. However my best memory of having illish is at a village wedding at my grandma’s place, where shorshe (mustard) illish was served in banana leaf with daal and kashundi. It was magical. If you are a busy professional or you live abroad like me, you either don’t have the time to cook or no access to fresh illish fish. I also know a lot of people who are afraid of the numerous bones and avoid it. Then I looked for alternatives. A couple of fish like salmon or sardine can be good substitutes, although sardine also has a lot of little bones in it. So I went for salmon fillet. It’s easily accessible and you can find it in any supermarket already prepped for you. Also, it takes very little time to cook. I have gone a bit fancy with this recipe, using molecular gastronomy. But I will also suggest a simple alternative. Shorshe salmon with soba noodles


(This recipe serves 4) For the mustard paste: 1 tbsp white mustard seeds 1 tbsp black mustard seeds 1 tbsp poppy seeds 3 garlic cloves 1 green chilli, deseeded (optional) ½ tsp salt For the mustard sauce with prawns: 12 medium sized prawn heads 12 medium sized prawns, deveined 2 tbsp mustard oil 1 tsp red chilli powder (use paprika if you don't want it too spicy) ¼ tsp turmeric powder ¼ tsp cumin powder 2 tbsp mustard paste 3 to 4 green chillies 2 tbsp coconut cream or regular cream Salt to taste For the kashundi spheres: (This is the technical step, which can be skipped if some of the ingredients are difficult to attain) ½ a green mango or aamra 1 tbsp mustard powder 1 tbsp lemon Juice ½ tsp calcium lactate ½ tsp sodium alginate 1 green chilli, deseeded (optional) For the steamed salmon: 4 salmot fiilets, skin seperated 4 pieces of banana leaves, (to wrap around the fish) 1 tbsp mustered oil Salt and pepper to season For the crispy salmon skin: 4 salmon fillet skins 2 tbsp black sesame seeds Olive oil, for drizzling Salt and pepper to season Soba noodles: 1 packet (150gm) soba noodles 2 tsp salt Garnish:

Roasted cherry tomatoes Shiso/basil leaves Cucumber strips

Directions: 1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. 2. To make the mustard paste, soak black, yellow mustard seeds with poppy seeds in a bowl with water for an hour. Strain with fine sieve and place with all the other ingredients in mortar and pestle to make a thick paste. 3. For the mustard sauce, pour mustard oil in a medium non-stick frying pan over medium heat and add prawn heads. Fry them for 2-3 minutes, it will start to caramelise and release flavours. Add mustard paste, salt and fry for a couple of minutes more. Then add chilli, turmeric and cumin powder. Also, add green chillies if you like it spicy. Fry for a couple more minutes and add 1 cup of warm water. Let it simmer for 3–4 minutes before adding the cream. Again simmer for 3 minutes. 4. As it starts to thicken, discard the prawn heads and add the cleaned prawns. Cook for about 4 minutes and set aside for later. 5. For the mango (kashundi) spheres, place 2 cups of water and the sodium alginate into a tall stick blender canister and blitz until completely combined. Transfer solution to a medium sized bowl and set aside for 15 minutes to settle. 6. Meanwhile, place diced green mango in a blender with all other ingredients, and blend to a thick and smooth purée. Pass through a fine sieve into a clean bowl. 7. Fill a medium sized bowl with water and set aside until required. Using a teaspoon, gently drop portions of the mango mixture into the reserved bowl of sodium alginate solution and leave for 3 minutes to form a thin outer membrane. Gently remove spheres from the alginate solution and place into the bowl of clean water. Store in soup spoons to serve them later. (Alternatively you can use thinly sliced green mango strips – same thickness as soba noodles. In that case skip step 5, 6 and 7) 8. To make the crispy skin, line a baking tray with baking paper and spread the whole skin or skin segments on it. Sprinkle black sesame seeds on top of this, drizzle olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put another backing paper and tray on top (so skins are in between 2 trays) and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. Check in between and keep longer if required. Get it out of the oven and set aside in a bowl to crisp up. 9. To steam the salmon, place a bamboo steamer or any streamer that's available on top of a pot with simmering water over the stove. Make sure the size of the pot is such that sufficient steam can get through bamboo steamer. Drizzle mustard oil on the salmon fillets and season with salt and pepper. Rub leftover mustard paste if you like. Wrap each salmon fillet with banana leaf (loosely) and keep the two ends open so that steam can get in. Place 2 fillets at a time inside bamboo steamer with lid closed. Let it steam for 3 minutes, then turn it around and steam again for 2 minutes. The salmon should be cooked but still nicely pink. Cooking time might vary depending upon size of salmon. 10. Cook the soba noodles in a medium size pot, in 2 litres of salted, boiling water. Cook for 2 minutes, during which time, re-heat the mustard sauce. Strain the half0-cooked noodles, then add them in th frying pan with mustard sauce and cook for about 2 minuted. Make sure the noodles soak up the sauce but don’t overwork or the noodles will break. 11. To serve, place 1/4 of soba noodles in a bowl. Make sure you get 3 prawns. Place the salmon fillet on top and garnish with crispy skin, roasted cherry tomatoes, shiso/basil leaves and small sucumber strips. Place 2-3 mango spheres (or strips) in the bowl.