Uda of Mittag bei Mutti introduced two very beautiful salicornia twists the other day: Spaghetti mit Garnelen (Spaghetti with Shrimps) and Fisch mit Limetten-Bearnaise (Fish with Lime Bearnaise), each served with the small green plants that I had never eaten so far. I later learned that salicornia is a pioneer plant which settles in the intertidal zone of sea shores in Northern Europe. Once I read about it I could remember that I had seen them several times when walking along the North sea. Arne is a big fan of this region, so I wanted to make a try.
The first attempt was a little bit disappointing: I prepared home fried potatoes with shallots and scrambled eggs (the base of farmer breakfast) and added some salicornia. I had supposed that the tiny green branches have an intense taste, therefore I used only few of it. But the flavor is indeed subtle, it consists mainly of natural salt and a slight touch of the deep wide sea. We tasted close to nothing but liked a lot the consistency. So I thought about something else to make the little fellows shine.
For some reason, bouillabaisse was my choice, and I wanted to try an oven-baked version. After all, even vegetarian bouillabaisse is a heavy weight in flavor. I therefore downsized the intensity of spices a little bit and raised the amount of salicornia. It looked beautiful and tasted great in the end, and due to the fancy pioneer ingredient it was the most sophisticated south French fish soup without fish that I ever served. I added some arame tofu as well and prepared some rouille as a sidekick. Rouille is traditionally served along with bouillabaisse in Marseille and can be done with either breadcrumbs or potato (I prefer the latter).
Dear Uda, thanks a lot for the wonderful salicornia inspiration! Thanks to you we became fans of the pretty little things from somewhere between the land and the sea. I adore your idea of adding vanilla (!) to it – I will definitely try this next time.
Here’s my recipe
It’s not difficult to make a vegetarian bouillabaisse from scratch. There are some typical Mediterranean ingredients in it but you don’t need them all or you may exchange some and will get a great soup nevertheless. First of all it’s some anise flavor that makes a bouillabaisse, and you are free to take either aniseed, fennel bulb, fennel seeds or Pastis – or all of them – in order to get the taste. Second is some touch of sea. I took arame tofu and salicornia, but you can take any seaweed as well. As for the vegetables, fennel and carrots are classics, but you might also take tomatoes, bell pepper or zucchini. I love as well some potatoes in it as it adds a nice texture. You may complete the dish with some orange or lemon zest or juice (or both).
Here’s my version which – regarding the soup, not the rouille – is inspired by Virginie Besançons „Meine Sonneküche“(which translates to „My Sun cuisine“ but I’m not sure if an English version exists, I could at least not find it on the internet). Prepare the rouille first: For two servings, cook a big potato in skin, drain and peel, get through a potato squeezer twice. In a mortar, squeeze very few fresh or dried chili, a small squeezed garlic clove and some olive oil with a pestle. If you prefer the rouille for a bouillabaisse without salicornia, you might want to take more chili. With salicornia it’s better to stay more sophisticated with it because otherwise you won’t taste them any more.
Add the chili mix to the mashed potatoe. Add olive oil one by one as well as salt and pepper. The texture should be creamy in the end.
The soup: Clean and cut into nice shapes some potato, fennel and shallot (I love them all in eighth which means not to cut the ends of the shallots and the fennel so that the layers keep together). Cut a big carrot into slices. Cut some garlic cloves into fine slices. Put a few saffron strains into very few lukewarm water. Cut some arame tofu into not too small quarters.
Heat some olive oil in a deep pan or pot which can be put to the oven as well. Add the potatoes first, then fennel and carrots, next shallots, fennel seeds, laurel, garlic and few crushed chili and stir gently at medium heat. Add some salt, deglaze with few pastis and add as much vegetable stock as it needs to cover all with liquid. Add some organic lemon zest. Close the lid and put to the pre-heated oven (200 °C). Let stew for about 20 minutes (the potatoes should be soft, but not become decomposed). Add the saffron and the tofu and let stew for another ten minutes.
In the meantime, heat some olive oil in a small pan and gently stir the cleaned salicornia for a minute. You will need approximately 15-20 g per serving (which is quite a load of iodine, so eople that are iodine-sensitive should be careful). Clean and cut some chive or fennel green, parsley or basil. Roast slices of bread in the oven or in a toaster. Get the bouillabaisse out of the oven, take off the laurel, add some rouille, season to taste, add the salicornia on top and serve the dish with bread and some rouille. In France, people love to place the bread slices covered with rouille directly on the soup which is really tasty! If you prefer a crunchy version, just east the bread and the spread as a sidekick.
Today’s Berlin shots are about a closer look that Arne took at Dircksenstraße in Berlin Mitte. The place is well known among tourists and residents alike as a street art area, and Arne recently spotted some sculptures of the Danish street artist Tejn who is famous for his so called Lock On’s.