IIt’s not a spoiler to say that I like herbs. Big fat bouquets make me happy and hungry, and I can’t imagine cooking without them. I love them fresh, as a pretty and flavorful finishing touch, I love them baked and wilted in sweet and savory preparations, and I love them blitzed in vinaigrettes and buttered. In fact, I even dream a little of writing a book on herbs, but I remember that Mark Diacono and Caz Hildebrand already beat me to it, with Herb: Kitchen Companion and Herbarium, respectively. Using herbs from field to fork is a gift we all have within our reach.
Steamed sea bream with herb fenugreek butter and coconut salsa (top photo)
cooking fish Foil is such an easy way to steam it perfectly: all the flavors are there, and it’s fun to present the dish in its package. Butter is a clever way to use up all the old herbs in your fridge. It will make more than you need here, so wrap any excess tightly and freeze for up to three months – perfect for garlic bread or on a roast chicken.
Preparation 12 minutes
To cook 1h25
For the herb butter
1 large garlic bulbleft whole, plus 2 cloves, peeled and crushed
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and black pepper
20g of parsleycoarsely chopped
20g coriandercoarsely chopped
1 tbsp mint leavescoarsely chopped
½ teaspoon of fenugreek seedsfinely ground in a mortar or spice grinder
½ teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1½ teaspoon lime zest
120 g unsalted butter at room temperaturecut into 1cm cubes
For the coconut salsa
25g coconut flakes (aka coconut chips)
1 teaspoon icing sugar
1 teaspoon lime juice
250g cherry tomatoes
1 large lemongrass sticktrimmed and thinly sliced
20g of gingerpeeled and finely grated
200ml whole coconut milk
8 Tenderstem broccoli stalks (120g), thicker stems cut in half lengthwise
4 sea bream fillets (or other delicate white fish), skin on
1 red peppercut into thin rounds
2 tablespoons parsley leaves
1 tablespoon coriander leaves
1 tbsp mint leaves
1 teaspoon lime juice
Heat the oven to 240C (220C fan)/475F/Gas 9. Cut off and discard the top of the garlic bulb to reveal the cloves. Place the garlic cut side up on a small square of aluminum foil, pour the oil over it and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Wrap the foil tightly around the bulb of garlic and roast for 20 minutes, until softened. Remove and cool, then squeeze the flesh from the papery skins; discard the skins.
Lower the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/Gas 4. To make the butter, place the parsley, cilantro, mint, roasted garlic flesh and crushed raw garlic in a food processor with a quarter teaspoon of salt and blitz until finely chopped. Add the fenugreek, chili flakes, lime zest and butter, mix for a minute until smooth, then scrape into a bowl.
For the salsa, combine the coconut, sugar, and lime juice in a bowl, then spread evenly on a small parchment-lined baking sheet. Toast in the oven for six minutes, tossing the mixture once halfway through cooking, until lightly caramelized, then remove and let cool.
Raise the oven temperature to 220C (200C)/425F/Gas 7. As it heats up, put a large skillet over high heat and, once hot, char the tomatoes, turning them over occasionally, for five minutes, then transfer to a plate.
Cut 4 squares of 30 cm of baking paper. Combine the lemongrass, grated ginger and coconut milk in a small bowl, crumple the parchment paper squares into bowls and divide the lemongrass mixture between them. Divide the charred tomatoes and broccoli between the packets, then place a fillet of fish on top, skin side down. Sprinkle each portion with an eighth of a teaspoon of salt and a good ground pepper and, using a spoon, spread 20 g of herb butter on each fillet. Bring the edges of the package over the fish, then seal securely by crimping the edges together.
Place the bites on a large baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the fresh chili, remaining herbs, lime juice and toasted coconut mixture in a small bowl. Divide the packets into four shallow bowls, cut each one off the top with scissors, pour the salsa over them and serve hot.
Coconut Tahini Green Goddess with Sunflower Seed Dukkah
It’s a great way to use up excess herbs, so replace them with what you have on hand. Sunflower seed dukkah is so addictive, you’ll want to sprinkle it on everything. If desired, double the amount and store the excess in an airtight jar, where it will keep for up to two weeks.
Preparation 20 mins
To cook 15 mins
140ml whole coconut milk
75ml olive oil
10g mint leaves
35g chivesfinely chopped
20g parsley leaves
1 clove of garlicpeeled and crushed
2 tablespoons of tahini
3 tablespoons lime juice (from 1 to 2 limes)
½ teaspoon of maple syrup
For the dukkah
50g of sunflower seeds
1½ tsp urfa pepper flakes
1½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes
⅛ teaspoon ground turmeric
⅛ teaspoon Kashmiri chili powderor paprika
¼ teaspoon caster sugar
For the salad
1 small white chicoryseparate sheets (60g)
1 small red chicoryseparate sheets (60g)
1 small gem lettuceseparate sheets
1 small Lebanese cucumbercut into 6cm long sticks (or ½ regular cucumber, watery seeds removed, flesh cut into 6cm long sticks)
100 g rainbow radishes (or normal)leaves left, halved lengthwise
Put the coconut milk in a small saucepan over medium heat, heat gently for two to three minutes, until smoking (this will prevent it from splitting when blitzing). Remove from the heat, add a tablespoon of water and let cool.
Once the coconut milk has cooled, put it in a blender with 60 ml of olive oil, the herbs and the garlic, and blend for two to three minutes, until smooth. Pour into a bowl and stir in the tahini, lime juice, maple syrup and three-quarters of a teaspoon of flaked salt.
For the dukkah, partially crack the sunflower seeds in a mortar giving them two or three turns of the pestle, then pour them into a small bowl. Put all the remaining dukkah ingredients into the mortar, coarsely crush, then pour into the bowl of sunflower seeds and mix.
To assemble, cleverly arrange the leaves, cucumber and radishes on a platter. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil and sprinkle with a quarter teaspoon of flaked salt and a handful of dukkah. Serve the green goddess dressing and remaining dukkah in bowls on the side for dipping.
Pineapple and herb sorbet with candied fennel seeds
The secret to keeping this sorbet vibrant green and grassy is to semi-freeze the pineapple first and churn it while it’s nice and cold. Candied fennel seeds are optional and will do more than you need here; save any extras for snacking or sprinkling on desserts. You will need an ice cream maker for this.
Preparation 10 minutes
To cook 30 minutes
1 large ripe pineapple (or 2 smaller ones)
15g basil leaves
15g mint leaves
5g parsley leaves
150g glucose syrup
50g caster sugar
3 limes – 1 juice, to obtain 1 tablespoon, the rest cut into 6 wedges each, to serve
3 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oilto serve
For the candied fennel seeds (optional)
30g caster sugar
20g fennel seeds
Hull and slice the pineapple, then cut and discard the skin and eyes. Cut around the core (use a pineapple corer, if you have one) and discard, then cut the flesh into 3cm pieces. Weigh 600g (stick with whatever extra you have), spread out on a small freezer safe tray and freeze for 1.5 to 2 hours (by this time the pieces won’t be quite frozen) . by).
Prepare your ice cream maker. Put the herbs, glucose, sugar, two tablespoons of water, lime juice, and frozen pineapple into a blender and blitz, stopping occasionally to stir, if necessary, until combined. until the mixture is very smooth and without lumps. This should take about five minutes in total (or less if you have a very powerful blender).
When the ice cream maker is ready, pour in the cold pineapple mixture, blend until soft, then transfer to an airtight container and freeze for at least two hours.
Meanwhile, prepare the candied fennel, if using. Put 25ml of water and the sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve, then bring to a boil and cook, stirring often, for exactly two minutes – the syrup should bubble very vigorously and bubble big, but not start to color at all. After two minutes, reduce the heat to medium-low, add the fennel seeds, and stir for 90 seconds to three minutes, until they begin to dry out, turn white, and coat with a white, sandy mixture. Don’t take the mixture past this point or the sugar will darken and caramelize, which you don’t want. Remove the pan from the heat, stir to separate the seeds as much as possible, then pour onto a small tray or plate and let cool.
To serve, divide the sorbet among six bowls, squeeze over a wedge of lime, drizzle each serving with a teaspoon and a half of good olive oil and garnish with a sprinkle of fennel seeds.