The Beer Lover's Table: Roast Salmon with Spring Vegetables and Wild Garlic Aioli and Donzoko Noble Fabric Export Lager

Recently, I visited a greengrocer to pick up some basics. I found myself lingering over the vegetables, feeling covetous: the ruby bunches of radishes, the broad beans swelling in their pods, the fat leaves of lemony sorrel, the unfurling buds of purple-sprouting broccoli… It had been a while since I’d felt so lusty over a bunch of veg, but this time of year has a way of reminding you how exciting all things new and green and crunchy can be.

I’ll give part of the credit as well to a recent meal I enjoyed at 40 Maltby Street (shared with friends, including fellow Hop Burns & Black columnist Matt Curtis). We had crudités with wild garlic aioli; we had jersey royals with Durrus cheese and broccoli; we had new-season onion fritters and lovage vinegar; we had kohlrabi salad with lettuce and elderflowers. We had some meat-driven dishes, too, but they weren’t the ones I couldn’t stop thinking about days later.

And so I came up with this dish as an excuse to eat as much spring veg as possible in one meal. Inspired by a recent recipe in the New York Times, which dressed vegetables and salmon in brown butter (as someone who is an infamous brown butter enthusiast, I can’t believe I didn't think to try that myself), I served the salmon alongside a mix of baby jersey royals, asparagus, broad beans and mint, with that brown butter-based pan sauce ladled over.

On the side – was it a starter, an accompaniment, a side dish, a second act? – I made wild garlic aioli with the late-season bounty, served with crunchy, raw radishes (don’t top them – those peppery leaves are worth eating). My aioli technique here, which uses an immersion or stick blender, is borrowed from my friend Anna; it takes 10 seconds and creates a perfect emulsion every time. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can finely chop the wild garlic yourself and make the mayo base the traditional way, with plenty of whisking.)

Asparagus can be notoriously difficult to pair with wine, but beer is another matter. Belgian tripels are a famous go-to, but I also like the crunchy spears with a nice malty, bready lager. Donzoko’s Noble Fabric Export Lager was a perfect choice. Modelled after Bavaria’s extra-strength, premium lagers, this 5.5% ABV beauty is biscuity and toasty and refined, though there’s enough richness in it to balance out the fatty salmon and pungent aioli. It’s the perfect pairing for a spring awakening.

Roast Salmon with Spring Vegetables and Wild Garlic Aioli
Serves 4

Adapted from New York Times Cooking

For the roast salmon and spring vegetables:
800g broad bean pods (yields approx. 200g beans)
500g baby jersey royal potatoes (any larger ones halved)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
500g asparagus, woody ends removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
Flaky sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 fillets salmon
85g salted butter
3 tablespoons capers, drained
½ lemon 20g mint, plus additional to garnish
1 bunch radishes (leaves attached, preferably), well rinsed

For the wild garlic aioli:
1 egg, room-temperature
200ml neutral oil, room-temperature
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Flaky sea salt, to taste
10-12 wild garlic leaves, very thinly sliced (chiffonaded)

1. First, prepare the broad beans. After podding the beans (discard the pods), bring a medium pot of water to the boil. Add the beans and cook for 3-4 mins. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to a bowl of ice water. Remove and discard the smaller bean pods; transfer the prepared beans to a bowl and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, as you pod the beans, return the pot of water to the boil (no need to change the water) and add the potatoes. Cook for 12 mins, or until knife-tender but not falling apart. Drain and set aside.

3. Next, prep your aioli. In a tall, thin glass or other container, add the egg, oil, mustard, lemon juice, a good pinch of sea salt and half of your wild garlic leaves. Place an immersion or stick blender right at the bottom of the glass and begin to blend. Slowly raise the blender up and down, until the mixture has formed a stable emulsion. Add the rest of the wild garlic and any additional salt to taste, and blend until the wild garlic is very finely chopped and mixed through. Transfer to a serving bowl and set aside.

4. Add half the olive oil to a large frying pan. Once hot, add the asparagus. Cook for around 3 mins, tossing frequently, until just knife-tender but still with plenty of crunch. Season with flaky sea salt to taste, transfer to a bowl and set aside.

5. Preheat the oven to 180° C. Transfer the salmon fillets to a parchment-paper lined baking sheet. Drizzle over the remaining half of the olive oil and rub over the salmon. Place the fillets skin-side-down and season with flaky sea salt and black pepper. Roast for 8-10 mins, or until just cooked through.

6. As the salmon cooks, create your pan sauce and finish cooking the vegetables. Wipe out the frying pan you used for the asparagus, return to the stove on medium-low heat and add the butter. Cook for 3-4 mins, or until the butter has melted, foamed up and is just browning – it should start turning a warm mahogany colour and smelling very nutty and toasty. Turn off the heat and add the potatoes; mix through until coated in the butter and season with flaky sea salt to taste.

 7. Next, add the capers and juice of ½ a lemon, and mix through. Add the broad beans and asparagus, and half the mint, and toss until coated in the sauce.

 8. When the salmon is ready, divide the vegetable mix between plates and serve the salmon on the side, drizzling the remaining pan sauce over the fillets. Garnish with the remaining mint. Arrange the radishes alongside the aioli and serve.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beer hound and all-around lover of tasty things. You can follow her at @clairembullen. For more recipes like this, sign up to our HB&B All Killer No Filler beer subscription - you'll receive Claire's recipe and food pairings, plus beer reviews and expert tasting notes with up to 12 world-class beers - like this one - every month.