Super Sneaky Salads: My posh potato salad with flaked fillets of smoked trout.
Spring is the season of light lunches and casual picnics in parks, which take much longer than they should and end with quite a bit of white wine. It is the time of forgetting about how cold and grey winter was and of making new plans. Spring food is different food. It’s not hearty but light, not poignant but subtle and not elaborate but effortless. A hint of horseradish, the slight tang of yogurt, the silky creaminess of smoked trout and the bite of crunchy radish-rounds, thrown together with fresh and young potatoes – my posh potato salad with flaked fillets of smoked trout is what a perfect spring lunch should be like. The right balance of freshness and substance, simple and light. With just a hint of decadence, after all everyone knows, in the back of our heads: Winter is coming.
I have been eating rather heavy dishes for the last couple of days, some of them were nice (cakes, cakes and more cakes) and some were outstandingly good (the heavenly Ossubuco I had at a sort-of-underground-restaurant, which I will write about some time in the future). But a body can only take so much, and mine has been calling for something lighter and fresher for the past couple of days. Fortunately cravings for fruit and vegetables, rather than chocolate and butter, are cravings I gladly give into. And why wouldn’t I, it is the perfect season: I like spring for its abundance of fresh and young vegetables, there is nothing better to fuel your engines than something that just recently sprouted (in that regard vegetables are like animals: the younger, the tastier). My particular favourite for a fresh and light lunch is the potato. Steamed and served with butter and chives or coated with a light butter sauce [sic!] I’ll have the spud any day. Whenever I feel particularly posh (which rarely happens) or like I deserved a little treat (which almost always happens) I’m treating myself to a salad of boiled potatoes, mayonnaise and dill, served with flaked fillets of smoked trout. I am not going to argue that mayonnaise was a particularly light ingredient, that would be a lost cause, as it is basically oil held in form by the powers of emulsification. Classic mayonnaise is not fresh, nor light, it’s rich and delicious, but also rather heavy. However, there are ways to make the white sauce much lighter and fresher than anything from the stores or the chip-shop. Substituting the egg-yolks, which are usually used for making mayonnaise, with a nice goat yogurt, will just do the trick. And most importantly making your own mayonnaise will only take as long as getting your store-bought glass from the top shelf and asking your strong and irritatingly husky flatmate to open it for you. So the next time you feel particularly posh (which should be rarely) or worthy of a little treat (which is always), have a go at my posh potato salad with flaked fillets of smoked trout.
My posh potato salad
Potatoes Radishes Mustard or Horseradish-Sauce Honey Pepper Salt Dill Feta Lemon Smoked trout fillets or smoked mackerel fillets
I use about 500 g of small potatoes to feed two people, all other ingredients can be taken from the recipe. Don’t stick to it slavishly, do your own thing. It’s a potato-salad after all.
- Wash your young small potatoes (there is no need for peeling them, as their skin is very thin and soft) and cook them in well salted water. If your potatoes do not happen to be be all that small, you might need to cut them into smaller bits. They are done once the tip of a knife pierces them just fine. Make sure not to overcook them, there needs to remain some sense of firmness. Drain the cooked potatoes and let them cool down until they are lukewarm, then cut into smaller bits.
- Slice the radishes thinly, do this just before serving, so that they will remain their sharpness and flavour.
- Making the Mayonnaise:Make the mayonnaise while the potatoes are cooling down. For this recipe I use small tequilla-shotglasses as unit of measurement. Put two shot-glasses of goat yogurt (which has more fat than the regular yogurt and thus a relatively lower water content – substitute with greek yogurt if you can’t find it), one glass of a light flavourless oil and one glass of a light olive oil into a tall measuring jar. Add about one tablespoon of horseradish sauce, which works nicely with the smoked trout, or half a tablespoon of mustard and add about half a tablespoon of honey. Especially horseradish sauce can vary quite a bit in intensity, so it might be clever to add less at the beginning and to readjust the seasoning at the end. Use a hand-held blender and push it all the way to the bottom, turn it on and pull it up slowly (You might need to do this twice, to produce a thick white cream). The two liquids will emulsify and the result is what is commonly known as mayonnaise (yogurt based, I give you that). Unseasoned mayonnaise, to be more specific. Adjust the seasoning using salt and pepper and squeeze in a drop of lemon juice (It never really is just one drop, add as much as you need to brighten up the mayonnaise).
- Break the feta down into smaller bits and pieces.
- I usually use smoked trout fillets for this dish. In the picture I am using a good smoked mackerel fillet, which is much stronger in taste and much fatter. I think that it gives quite a nice edge to the whole dish, but I generally prefer trout. Flake your fish (two small trout fillets or one large mackerel fillet) using a fork. I like some nice big chunks for texture.
- Coarsely (or finely, this really is up to you) chop the fresh dill. I use about two sprigs, but this is a matter of taste. Just before serving add the dill to the mayonnaise and give it a quick stir.
- Mix the luke-warm potatoes with your mayonnaise. If the potatoes are too hot, the mayonnaise will split. Add your feta and mix again. At the very last minute, add your sliced radishes and mix a last time. Plate the salad, scatter over the flaked fillets and some extra dill, if you like-
Enjoy straight away.