RHUBARB GASTRIQUE WITH MARTA SANDINI, NAUGHTY PIGLETS
3 min read
From January to April, you’ll likely see rhubarb on every seasonal menu in the city – usually on the dessert section. Marta bucks the trend and takes rhubarb back to its savoury roots. Follow her recipe for rhubarb gastrique with coriander and ginger, which she teems here with smoked eel from the Devon Eel Company.
We source our rhubarb from Robert and Jonathan in West Yorkshire – a region so ideal for growth it has been dubbed the Rhubarb Triangle. From choosing rare varieties to splitting their own crowns and harvesting by candlelight, these growers go to great lengths for exceptional rhubarb. Stalks are so tender they can be eaten raw – or lightly pickled like in this gastrique.
The gastrique will last for a couple of days in the fridge. Try it as an accompaniment to other fish dishes or pork.
A sweet and tangy rhubarb pickle with smoked eel and crème fraîche
200g Forced Yorkshire Rhubarb (about 3 sticks)
200g banana shallot (about 3)
80g fresh ginger
1 bunch coriander (stems only)
200g white wine vinegar
200g caster sugar
Splash of fish sauce
Splash of soy sauce
200g smoked eel (Marta uses eel from the Devon Smoked Eel Company)
200g crème fraîche - hung for 12h to remove water
10g coriander cress
For the crème fraîche:
1. 12 hours before you intend to cook this dish, spoon the crème fraîche into a muslin and hang it over a bowl in the fridge to drain it of all water. If not possible, choose the thickest, fullest fat crème fraîche you can find.
For the Rhubarb Gastrique:
2. First, trim the edges off the rhubarb, creating a flat edge on each side. Reserve the trim for infusing into vinegar or making flavoured syrups. Dice the rhubarb into 1cm squares. Peel and finely dice the shallots, finely chop the coriander stems and grate the ginger. Combine everything in a bowl and set aside.
3. Weigh out the vinegar and sugar into a pan and bring to a boil. Allow to reduce slightly then add a good splash of fish sauce and soy sauce before pouring the hot liquid over the rhubarb-shallot mix. Allow to cool before using.
4. Portion the eel into 50g pieces. Warm each piece up very gently (and covered) in the oven with a splash of good olive oil. You don’t want the fish to curl up or dry out, just to relax, making it more tender.
5. Spoon a couple of tablespoons of rhubarb gastrique onto the bottom of the plate. Dress the eel with a little of the gastrique liquid, plate it and pour the juices over the top. Quenelle the crème fraîche on the side and finish with a few sprigs of coriander cress.
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