Recipe Category: Guest Chefs
Bull kelp grows all over New Zealand’s rocky shoreline; harvesting the kelp is easily done at low tide in calm seas, or after a big storm it will wash up on our beaches. For this dish we use the base of the kelp, near where it attaches to the rocks, where the kelp is around 1cm thick and 20cm wide. The top or thinner parts of the kelp go towards enriching my compost which will, in time, be used to enhance the family vegetable garden.
This dish is inspired by the ‘en papillote’ method of cooking, learned during my time in French kitchens, and by the use of bull kelp by ancient Māori to create bags to preserve food like tītī (muttonbird) for many months. It also makes me think of my times as a kid when we baked potatoes in the fire on the beach. This technique gives a special smoky and umami flavour to vegetables and is also a great way to cook fish.
The mustard dressing recipe is from Cara, my wife. It’s a simple dressing, great to have in the fridge on standby for all salads.
If the octopus tentacles are spindly and thin, they won’t need a 24-hour brine – cut this back by 4 to 5 hours. Once cooked, the flesh should be tender but not mushy; the best way to check is to try a piece once it’s been steamed, as everyone likes octopus cooked a little differently, so find what is good for you. The mayo recipe makes more than is required, but it’s much easier to do a larger amount and the mayo is great combined with a little crème fraîche for a potato salad. A good amount of hot sauce is needed to lift the zestiness, and probably more salt than you think – trust your palate.
New Zealand spinach is readily found on riverbanks and under trees along the coast. It has a slightly salty taste and almost succulent quality. There is more sauce here than needed but it keeps well for up to 3 days in the fridge. The skin of sole is very thin and tears easily, but don’t worry, the sauce will cover that up.
This is how we use up fish trimmings at the restaurant – skin and all! The sandwich filling is a mix of larger and smaller pieces of fish, bound with a generous creamy sauce.