WINTER crops come to an end in early spring and by late spring the summer crops have yet to properly arrive. Spring staples like wild garlic, asparagus, spring onions and rhubarb keep us perfectly content in the in-between season.
New potatoes herald the arrival of summer’s bounty, being the first great crop to arrive on the shelves of grocery stores to signal the months where seasonal produce is aplenty. Early potatoes have a thin skinned delicacy about them and a nutty sweetness. They rarely need peeling and are often of the waxy variety which makes them perfect for salads.
Try to find new potatoes that are firm and blemish free, if they are unwashed it probably means they are fresher and less blemished as the dirt protects them, simply wash them in cold water before cooking.
New potatoes have a wonderful sweetness about them which pairs wonderfully with smoked and oily fish. They hold up well to sharp, bold flavours of lemon, mustard, aniseed and sour cream. Season them well with sea-salt, butter and herbs.
The usual thing to do with new potatoes is to boil them in salty water until tender but roasting them in olive oil also gives very satisfying results. We like to pair them with strong bold flavours but also the fewer ingredients the better, keep it simple but flavourful.
This is about as simple a fish dinner as you can get. Sure you could add green beans, samphire, asparagus or other elements to this dish but we love the uncomplicated combination of rich salmon, sweet waxy new potatoes, bittersweet anise of tarragon and salty/sharp capers.
We like to get the salmon as crispy on the outside without overcooking it. Basting with the butter on all sides while cooking should give you the desired effect.
To make the butter, mash it in a bowl with the tarragon and capers until well combined.
Roll in parchment paper and leave in the fridge until you need it.
Cut the new potatoes in half and leave them unpeeled. Place in a large saucepan of salted water and bring to the boil. Cook for roughly 12 to 15 minutes until tender when pierced with a knife.
Season both sides of the salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan on a medium high heat. Add the salmon fillets skin side down and cook for 2- 3 minutes, adding a little of the tarragon butter towards the end of cooking. Add a little lemon juice to the pan and baste the salmon with the melted butter and lemon from the pan.
Toss the hot new potatoes in the rest of the butter and divide between two plates. Top with salmon fillets and serve.
In many ways gribiche is almost like a deconstructed mayonnaise. The eggs are cooked instead of whisked. I like to leave the egg pieces quite large, in quarters instead of chopping them finely like most gribiche.
Roasting new potatoes gives their skin a beautiful fudgy, sticky gloss which makes them even more sweet. Pair them with salty parmesan and the gribiche, which is sharp but also robust, with mustard and egg.
To make the sauce gribiche, mix together the gherkins, vinegar, capers, mustard, tarragon, parsley and lemon juice in a bowl. Season lightly before gently folding in the egg quarters. Cover and leave aside.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
Lay the potato halves out on a large baking tray and drizzle generously in olive oil, tossing them to coat and season well with salt and black pepper.
Roast for 20- 25 minutes, tossing once, until the potatoes are golden and crispy.
Sprinkle over most of the parmesan and return to the oven for another minute or two until the cheese is melted.
Serve on a platter with the gribiche drizzled over and the remaining parmesan sprinkled on top.
Good smoked mackerel flaked into a new potato salad with a hint of heat and the sharpness of lime juice. This is a wonderfully balanced dish, the sweetness of the new potatoes holds up to the competing strong flavours well and mellows them out. You can leave out the pink peppercorns if you like but we find their perfumed pepperiness addictive.
For the dressing
Cut potatoes in half, place in a large saucepan and cover with cold salted water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes until cooked through.
Drain and toss with limejuice and zest.
Blitz all of the ingredients for the dressing in a food processor adding more oil if needed.
Arrange the potatoes in a large bowl and drizzle generously with the dressing. Pull the smoked mackerel fillets gently apart into large pieces and arrange on top with slices of lime and some chopped coriander.