4-6 smoked scallops
1/2 lb smoked prawns (shelled)
1/2 lb smoked salmon or trout
2 cups mache or baby spinach
fresh parsley, chopped
fresh dill, chopped
4 medium potatoes
4 ripe tomatoes
1 egg per person
2-3 scallions / sping onions chopped
10 oz coarse corn meal
6 cups water
1-2 tspns salt
1 stock cube (preferably porcini)
Polenta: 25 mins
Salad: 25 mins
you will need:
Poseidon's adventure: smoked seafood salad with hot polenta croutons
This will knock people's socks off. It is great for a party (you can downscale it to canape size portions), it has come in handy on many occasions as a hangover brunch, and it is the perfect lunchtime excuse to polish off a bottle of something light and crisp.
My history with smoked fish is not great.
I blame my mother for this.
She would strong-arm us into fasting on Good Friday by cooking the most unpalatable meal imaginable; boiled smoked cod.
Orange and livid, the stench would have all of us kids steering clear of the kitchen, the dining room and the house in general.
We would cower in the back yard, nibbling on stale, leftover hot cross buns from breakfast.
20 years later, it was the rather obvious charms of my flat mate, Brooke, who plied me with cocktails and cheeky morsels of smoked trout. I was hooked!
This was followed by an epiphany at the fish counter in Whole Foods where I discovered smoked scallops and 'Indian Candy' (chunks of salmon which have been brined with molasses, then smoked).
After years of making this salad with just smoked trout and crispy potatoes, I started adding in other smoked seafood.
Then I realised that if I could slip in other seafood I could most certainly accomodate other starches as well!
Polenta croutons are diabolical!
And that's where we start.
Heat 6 cups of water, 1 tspn of salt and a (porcini or chicken) stock cube. Bring this to the boil.
Pour the polenta grains into the water slowly. Grasp a handful, close your fist and let the grains trickle as you stir the water with your other hand.
The handy thing to have happen right about now is for some poor fool to walk into the kitchen looking for a fresh drink. They'll sheepishly ask you if there is anything they can help you with. You say; ' Sure! could you stir this for me? I'll get you a refill!'.
Now, leave them stirring for 20 minutes. They can have all the booze they want. Not that making polenta is tedious. Not that the act of stirring cannot be therapeutic or transportive, I just generally prefer to let someone else get transported by it.
Pour the polenta into a buttered dish and let it cool. You can do this the day ahead.
Okay: 25 minutes or less!
Heat the oven to 425f
Prick the potatoes with a fork and pop them in the microwave for 5 mins.
Slice the tomatoes in half and place them in a small baking dish. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle some olive oil over them. Place them in the oven.
Heat about 1/3 cup of olive oil in a skillet. Let it get hot. Slice the potatoes into 1 inch cubes and sprinkle with salt, pepper and some paprika. Add (carefully!) to the hot oil and fry for a few minutes on each side until brown and crisp (tip; keep an eye on them, but get on with other stuff...they'll brown quite nicely if you leave them alone). Slice about half of the polenta into 1 inch cubes (keep the rest to snack on later). When the potatoes are browned, place them into a baking dish and pop them into the oven with the tomatoes; they'll get even crisper!
Place the polenta cubes into the skillet that you had the potatoes frying in, they will stick a little and get quite greedy with the olive oil. Keep them moving, they may not brown much, but they will crisp up. When each side has had a turn face-down in the fat, so to speak, remove the croutons to a baking dish ( or toss them in with the potatoes) and pop them in the oven.
Chop the parsely, dill and scallions. Place the mache, or spinach, in your serving bowl.
Arrange the scallops and prawns over the mache, then flake or tear the smoked salmon and trout (remove any skin or bones as you go) and place the flesh in the salad bowl. Sprinkle the herbs and scallions over the fish.
Finally, crack a few eggs into the skillet and fry until the yolk has started to hold, but will still have a little ooze when it is pierced.
Place the tomatoes, potatoes and polenta croutons on top of the smoked fish and top with the fried eggs. Drizzle a litte olive oil over everything and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Serve with crusty bread and, if the hangover is particularly vicious, a good bottle of champagne!