Salmon tartare canapés

Olives are the nibble most closely associated with martinis but I always think that seafood is one of the best matches. It’s fresh, cold and goes well with citrus, just like a good martini. Consuming seafood also brings its own element of danger (food poisoning? Mercury?), much like the danger associated with drinking a strong martini.

So here is a simple and easy recipe for a seafood canapé to serve when you pour a drink.

 

Salmon tartare served on ritz crackers combines chilled, zesty, silken fish on a crunchy carb base.

Finely chop the solid ingredients listed below then mix everything well and serve immediately.

For 100g of chopped, skinless, boneless salmon add:

  • The zest of a lemon
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • A finely shredded square inch of onion
  • A smudge of wasabi paste (optional)
  • A teaspoon of chopped capers
  • A teaspoon of chopped chives
  • A teaspoon of sesame oil
  • A teaspoon of Sriracha sauce
  • A pinch of sesame seeds (optional)

The mixture should be plenty for a large number of ritz crackers. Depending on how much you spoon on each it could make over 20.

You could also serve the mixture on miniature blini, which I like very much.

  
If you have to remove the salmon skin with a sharp knife you can roast it with a little bit of salt and oil for a crunchy side dish.

  
You can serve it as part of a full meal. Here I’ve dished it up with more salmon tartare and some grilled courgettes.

Or you could simply serve the roasted skin dabbed with a little sweet chilli sauce, which makes an unusual snack to serve with a martini.

Note that there are numerous variations of the above tartare recipe so I would recommend experimenting – although always ensure that the fish is extremely fresh!

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A classic martini with lime

  

I will keep this post short.

I ordered what I thought were 4 limes from tesco online. When it arrived I realised I had, in fact, ordered 4 BAGS of limes. Keen not to let it go to waste, I have so far used them in the following:

  • Ceviche
  • Smoothies
  • Gin and tonics

However I have now also tried using them in a martini, by peeling some of the skin and squeezing the oil into the glass before using it as a garnish.

However, while I may now be free from any risk of scurvy, the lime flavour from the oil was too bitter and harsh for the martini. Science experiment over, I can now safely say that you should use lemon peel in your martini and save the lime for your gimlets or gin and tonics.

Class dismissed!

The Lorena-san Michelada

This is my Japanese variation of a classic Mexican drink – the Michelada. I have named my version after my friend from Mexico City who introduced me to the concept. It’s not a martini but hey – I can’t drink martinis ALL the time! Plus, summer is coming and this is a great summer drink.

It’s very similar to a standard Mexican Michelada, which is essentially beer, lime juice and some additional savoury and/or spicy sauces served in a salt-rimmed glass. The drink is comparable to a Bloody Mary and very good for a hangover or alcoholic rehydration on a hot day. However, the mixture for the glass rim in my version is heavily influenced by Japanese ingredients. If you can’t get hold of them, I recommend you try a more standard recipe with beer, Worcestershire sauce, lime and salt at the very least, so you can experience this wonderful drink. The ingredient combination might sound unusual, alien and even unpalatable to some of you but trust me, I’ve had lots of experience.

You might ask me why I would combine a Mexican recipe with a Japanese tang. Well, it’s mainly because I tried this and it worked. Otherwise though, Japan and Mexico have more in common than might meet the eye. Obviously both countries feature heavily in the Kill Bill franchise. Both countries also have extensive experience of earthquakes. If there’s ever a rumble and a shake of the earth your Mexican and Japanese friends will be the first to jump under a table – fact! However, most importantly for the sake of this blog, the cultures of both countries hold flavours and cuisine in extremely high regard.

Both Japan and Mexico are blessed with climatic diversity, which in turn has led to very distinct regional variations in things like agricultural produce and other forms of naturally available food. This in turn has led to the evolution of a rich assortment of cuisine specialities.

In the case of Mexico I think that the highly sophisticated cuisines do not receive enough international acclaim. I love Japanese food and I am very glad that it has received a lot of global recognition, evidenced not least by the multitude of Michelin stars awarded to Tokyo.

Mexican cuisine however, does not seem to have had the same international recognition. It appears to have been hijacked by numerous profit-making rip-off versions, selling a business model rather than genuine Mexican food. Of course, there are exceptions, particularly in the United States (and there are a handful in London) but it is far easier to find an authentic Japanese restaurant than it is to find an authentic Mexican one. I hope that in the future Mexican cuisine will be given the acclaim it deserves.

But I digress… here is my recipe.

Run a tall beer glass under a tap and place it in the freezer for at least 20 minutes (preferably longer).

  
Grind a pinch of sea salt, a pinch of furikake (a salty-umami Japanese seasoning), a pinch of caster sugar, a pinch of chilli powder and a pinch of sesame seeds with a pestle and mortar. 

Slice a lime or yuzu fruit. Rub one half over the rim of the glass. 

 
Rim the glass with the ground mixture. Save any leftover mixture for later. You will need the lime/yuzu as well.

Add the following to the glass:

The juice of 2 limes or yuzu fruit

A dash of hot sauce (I used Sriracha)

A dash of soy sauce

A dash of Worcestireshire sauce

And last but not least… A light beer!

You can add an ice cube or two to cool it down, or even better, use frozen lime or lemon slices.

 

Serve with the leftover salt/chilli/sesame/furikake mixture in a side dish. Lick your finger and dab it in to taste, as you would with some salt with a tequila.

Serve with a wedge or two of lime/yuzu as well.

And it will go with a wide range of izakaya-style snacks too.

¡Salud!

乾杯!

Y muchas gracias Lorena-san!


The Lemon and Lime Drop Martini

Have you ever had a lemon drop martini? It’s the inspiration for this drink. I just altered the recipe slightly.

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You will need:

Gin or vodka (vodka is probably better)
Sweet vermouth
Lemons and limes (one each for the number of drinks you want to make)
Honey
Sprite (yes, sprite)

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I’m on holiday in the Mediterranean; a time for relaxation and spending quality time with friends.

A very important part of this holiday time is drink o’clock. Whatever you’ve spent your day doing, be it history, culture, hiking, watersports or simply lying by the pool, I crave the ceremonial time at sunset when everyone showers off the sea salt, chlorine or sweat and puts on their evening wear, in preparation for a drink followed by dinner. It’s my favourite part of the day.

My friend wanted to try an alternative to a martini so I started wracking my brain. She likes lemons and limes so I thought back to time spent in New York, a time when I first encountered the Lemon Drop Martini. This is basically a strong vodka drink with the addition of lemon juice and sugar.

I didn’t have all the ingredients available to make a classic lemon drop martini so I started to think something up. I could have trekked around the local shops for the right stuff but I’m on holiday! I also wanted to put to use the lovely limes we had to hand.

We didn’t have any sugar, which is an important lemon drop ingredient, but we did have some Greek honey, so I came up with a plan which I hoped had some real local spin to it.

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Low hanging fruit

Juice a lemon and a lime for every martini you want to make.

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For every drink add 2.5 teaspoons of honey to a cup, then add the same amount of hot water to melt it.

Stir the honey mixture until the honey has dissolved, then add the lemon and lime juice. Stir them and chill, either in the fridge for a few hours or the freezer if you’re pushed for time.

When drink o’clock happens, add a dash of sweet vermouth to a chilled martini glass.

Top up half way with the honey lime and lemon juice.

Add a measure or two of gin/vodka.

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Top up with sprite to add some effervescence.

Garnish with lemon and/or lime peel, then serve it before it warms up.

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Yiamas!

Thai cocktail

I like spicy things and intense Thai flavours, so when I went to Translate Bar in Shoreditch I ordered their Thai Mizza Healer cocktail. It contains lemon vodka, coconut, lime, chilli, coriander and lemongrass. It was sweet, sour, tangy, hot and refreshing all at the same time.

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Be careful you don’t drink too many and end up snogging the wall though.