Michelin-starred chef Daniel Hatton knows a thing or two about great recipes. Here, the patron of Hattons Private Dining and owner of Hattons Deli and Lifestyle store on The Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells, offers some of his top culinary tips and hints, and serves up a delicious starter to get you in the festive mood…
When writing menus and recipes, it’s all about the food seasons and flow. The first you obviously know all about it, but why am I talking about ‘flow’? Well, cooking is about just that – getting things on at the correct time and being organised, so that when the finished product comes together everything will be ready at the same time, with no last-minute stress.
I often find myself sitting in local parks, fields or wandering around food markets. Why, you may ask? Well they’re the places where I find my inspiration. The first two give me the colours and feelings of the seasons: the leaves falling and the mushrooms sprouting up from the ground let me know that autumn has arrived.
When I see the warm sun streaming through the trees and hear the birds singing, I know it’s spring and therefore time to lighten my food. I guess you could say that nature helps different types of dishes pop into my mind, making menu writing a little easier.
The famous food markets of Borough, Billingsgate and Smithfield also offer a wealth of smells and sights, while the hustle and bustle of people makes them really come alive. Watching people grabbing the latest foods from the stallholders before rushing off is incredible; and as the food scene moves so fast, you really have to be in the mix to keep up. The inspiration is immense and makes my mind flow with new and exciting creations.
Everyone can come up with ideas and recipes so be confident and try a few out on your family and friends – and as long as you let the seasons guide you, you’ll be just fine. The dish I’ve decided to create for you in this November issue of So magazine takes its cue from the festive season, which, like it or not, is just around the corner. We all tend to overindulge in December but this salmon dish, which would make a great dinner party or Christmas day starter, is light, fresh and has bags of flavour. Not only does it have the wow factor, it’s also easy to prepare with no cooking, and can be done the day before, leaving you to be with your friends and family, rather than stuck in the kitchen.
TARTARE OF ORGANIC SALMON, AVOCADO, BEETROOT AND SEA VEGETABLES
• 200g fresh organic salmon, skinned
• 1 ripe avocado
• Juice and zest of 1 lemon
• Sea salt
• 1 large beetroot (cooked)
• 1 sprig of dill or fennel to garnish
• Edible flowers to garnish
• Juice and zest of 1 lime
• Splash of extra virgin olive oil
• Black pepper
• Handful of small breakfast radishes
• 50g samphire
- First, you need the best-quality salmon you can buy, so head to your local fishmonger, as you want it to be as fresh as possible. Dice it as small as you can – you don’t want large pieces, as the smaller you get it, the softer and more delicate it will be. Once diced, place in the fridge until you need to serve.
- Remove the stone and peel, place in a blender and add the juice of the lemon and some sea salt. Blitz until smooth, then place in the fridge until ready to serve.
- Chop the beetroot and dice into neat squares which will help to enhance the overall appearance of the dish.
- To garnish salmon I always use a few fennel tops, from which you get the most amazing aniseed flavour. If you can’t get them, dill will be fine. If you can get some edible flowers such as pansies or borage, you get an extra vibrant colour from the plate, but of course, make sure you eat them too, as you get a lovely peppery flavour.
- Place your pre-diced salmon in a bowl, adding the lemon and lime juice and zest, and the olive oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper; the citrus juice will start to cook the fish, so don’t add too early. In a ring in the middle of the plate, add your salmon and flatten down. Add a spoonful of the avocado mousse and scatter with the diced beetroot. Slice the radishes and add the samphire and edible flowers. Grate some lime zest over the finished plate and enjoy!
If you need any help or would like to discuss your menu for this festive season, please pop in to my deli in The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells, and I’d be happy to help. We have many food items available for your store cupboard, so come and fill your basket, and beat the shopping rush before Christmas. Daniel Hatton will be hosting two pop-up restaurants at The Bakehouse at 124 in Tonbridge on November 18 and 19 and December 16 and 17. If you want to taste Daniel’s food first hand, head to www.hattonsrtw.co.uk/hattons-events and book your place at these exciting events.