Whipped smoked fish with broad beans, leaves and salted cucumber
Possibly the best part of a broad bean is the leaf. But most often it is simply discarded, as usually the plant is grown purely for the bean to be picked at the height of ripeness and served fresh.
I love cooking with everything the plant throws at me and I adjust my processes accordingly. In salads I use the leaf when it is in its early growth stage. I cook the leaves as they become more mature. The young bean pods I grill whole, as you would edamame. When the beans are at their peak, I pod and skin them. Towards the end of the season, larger beans can be dried and used in the same way as lentils.
Broad beans grow very well through winter but they won’t show flowers, then bean pods, until early spring. In order to limit disease pressure it is common to pick the tops off the plant, and this is the point where I enjoy using them. Even though I do love the Zen state achieved through podding mountains of beans, the work required for the same flavour effect with the leaf is one of the great kitchen hacks.
This dish makes an ideal snack – served as a dip with crudité. It also keeps well in the fridge.
2018 Blind Corner chardonnay aligoté, 2018, Quindalup, WA ($30) – Mike Bennie, wine and drinks journalist
- 200g snapper
- 20g salt
- 1 cucumber (Lebanese)
- pinch of salt
- 100g stale white grain bread
- 150ml hot water
- 2g finely grated garlic
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 80ml olive oil
- olive oil to serve
- 50g broad beans
- 50g broad bean leaves
- To prepare the fish, sprinkle the salt over the flesh and keep covered and refrigerated overnight.
- Brush off the excess salt the next day and then place on a rack above a smoky fire or alternatively in a low oven (about 50ºC) for 18 hours.
- Slice the cucumbers into the desired size and then sprinkle with the pinch of salt. Cover and refrigerate.
- Soak the bread in the hot water until it has all been absorbed. Break up the fish into either a mortar or an upright blender and pulverise until it turns into floss. Add the garlic, lemon juice and zest, oil and pepper, as well as the soaked bread, and whip until emulsified. Don’t overwhip, as the gluten in the bread will become gluey. Be careful with seasoning also as the salt will be present in the dried fish.
- To serve, spread a plate with the whipped fish and then dress with some olive oil. I like to use the beans and leaves to dip, along with the cucumber. Or you could use strips of toast.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on October 20, 2018 as "Everything in the bean".
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