I created this dish one week for my Secret Larder supper club - we had a magician show up to entertain folk, as you do, and I came up with an arguably twee menu of daft magic-related puns. Rabbit in a hat was a great hit, as was this - herring poached in beetroot juice - ta-da! - a red herring. You could use mackerel, or indeed sea bass or similar, if herring is too hard to come by.
Preparation: You will need to pickle the beetroot a day or two ahead, ideally.
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
- 1lb 2oz beetroot
- 300ml/10fl oz/1¼ cups white wine vinegar
- 250g/9oz/1¼ cups caster (superfine) sugar
- 2 shallots, peeled and finely sliced
- a bunch of dill, finely chopped – reserve a few fronds to garnish
- 6 herring, cleaned, boned and butterflied – the fishmonger can do this
For the lovage and parsley sauce
- 25g/1oz lovage, leaves only
- 25g/1oz parsley, leaves only
- 1 tbsp capers
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed to a paste
- juice of 1 lemon
- 100ml/3½fl oz/7 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Put the beetroot in a pan of salted water and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 40 minutes, or until easily pierced with a skewer. Drain and leave to cool. When cool, rub with your thumb to remove the skins. Thinly slice the beetroot.
- Stir the vinegar and sugar in a saucepan over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then add the shallots and bring to a boil. Simmer for 3 minutes, then pour over the beetroot. Add the dill, cover and leave until cool.
- To make the sauce, bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Fill a bowl with iced water. Introduce the lovage and parsley to the hot water for no more than 10 seconds, then plunge them straight into the iced water. Leave for a minute or so, until cold, then
remove and press out any excess water.
- Blend or finely chop with the capers, garlic and lemon juice, then slowly stir or blend in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
- Drain the beetroot, tipping the pickling juice into a wide saucepan or sauté pan. Bring this to a boil and gently slide in the herring. Reduce the heat and poach for 4–5 minutes.
- Serve the red herring with the pickled beetroot and the lovage and parsley sauce.
Pairing suggestion: Martell Cordon Bleu