In his book Summer’s Lease, chef and writer Thom Eagle waxes lyrical about the food of summer, about gluts of peaches and raspberries giving way to cherries. This season is for “chunks of ripe and dripping tomatoes, eaten just with salt, leaves crisp from iced water... dishes that are more arrangements than recipes, of fish or meat or cheese or vegetables, which might be cured or pickled, sliced or whole, but are by and large cooked: that is to say, they have not been transformed by heat – but that is not to say they are untransformed.”
I love this way of thinking about summer food. It speaks to my manner of eating right now. Everything seems to ripen in July, and what else is there to do than eat its bounty as immediately and worshipfully as possible?
That’s the theory behind this dish, anyway, though I have to give credit to my friend Anna Malkan, an exceptional cook and baker, for the inspiration. Contrary to the revelations of #Swedengate, Anna is the kind of hospitality-driven Swede who seems to have mountains of tomatoes, avocados, sourdough and champagne on hand at all times, ready for any guest who might be passing by. She whips up a mean brunch or dinner party and is the mastermind behind this unexpected combination of salmon sashimi, strawberries, jalapeño and a simple elderflower dressing.
I had just enough homemade elderflower cordial left over for the dressing, which is lent acidity from rice vinegar and a brooding umami note from toasted sesame oil; when drizzled over the salmon, the result is almost like a ceviche. Here, sweet and savoury, fresh and fruity, oily and zingy all come together in a dish that is simple, takes minutes to make, and (crucially) requires no oven or hob at all.
For a dish like this, I can’t think of a better pairing than Sklep58’s Muskat Moravsky Orange. Hailing from Moravia in the southern Czech Republic, this skin-contact wine resembles early-morning sunshine in hue and bearing. It has the muscat family’s characteristic floral abundance, plus fleshy peachy notes, but feels as refreshing as spring water.
It is just as delicate and as joyful as this sashimi dish, and together the two are in harmony, neither one outweighing the other. As Anna puts it, “summer on a plate” – and in a glass.
Salmon Sashimi with Strawberries, Jalapeños and Elderflower Vinaigrette
Serves 2 as a small plate
For the vinaigrette:
50ml elderflower cordial
25ml extra virgin olive oil
25ml toasted sesame oil
3 teaspoons rice vinegar
Flaky sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground white peppercorns, to taste
For the salmon:
400g sashimi-grade salmon
8-10 small strawberries, thinly sliced
1-2 jalapeños, thinly sliced
Zest of 1 lemon
Flaky sea salt, to taste
1. First, make the dressing. In a bowl, or preferably a small glass jar, add the cordial, olive oil, sesame oil and rice vinegar. Season to taste with salt and white pepper (feel free to substitute black pepper). Whisk to combine, or put the lid tightly on the jar and shake until emulsified. Set aside.
2. Next, prep the salmon. Using your sharpest knife, carefully slice the salmon into roughly 1/4-inch-thick pieces. Arrange evenly over the serving plate.
3. Scatter over the strawberry and jalapeño slices, and grate over the lemon zest. Season lightly with the flaky sea salt.
4. Just before serving, give the vinaigrette another good whisk or shake if it’s lost its emulsion, and drizzle over the salmon (you may not need all of it). Serve immediately.
Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beer and wine hound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Our first book with Claire, The Beer Lover’s Table: Seasonal Recipes and Modern Beer Pairings, is available in all good book stores (and at HB&B). Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen. Don’t miss out on Claire’s wine and food pairings, which go out every month in our Natural Wine Killers subscription box.