Nasturtium Salad with Pickled Cockles and Bream

Aiden Byrne's pretty and colourful floral salad can still pack a punch with its sharp seafood accompaniment
By Aiden Byrne
Nasturtium Salad with Pickled Cockles and Bream
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes plus soaking and overnight pickling
  • Effort: medium

Ingredients

  • 250 g fresh cockles
  • 100 ml white wine
  • 50 ml white wine vinegar
  • 3 large sprig thyme
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 handfuls white peppercorns
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 30 medium-sized nasturtium leaves
  • 24 multi-coloured nasturtium flowers
  • lemon juice, to season
  • oil, for deep frying
  • olive oil, for frying
  • 2 bream, fillets

For the tempura batter

  • 85 g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 200 ml ice cold sparkling water, or soda water
  • a few ice cubes

For the nasturtium oil

  • 30 medium-sized nasturtium leaves
  • 250 ml olive oil

To serve

  • 1 large banana shallot, sliced into rings
  • 2 tbsp small capers
  • olive oil, for drizzling

Method

1. Run the cockles under plenty of cold running water and soak for about 2-3 hours - this will help extract any sand. Drain.

2. Heat half the white wine, the white wine vinegar, 1 ½ sprigs of thyme, 3 bay leaves and the white peppercorns, simmering for 5 minutes. This will form the pickling liquor for the cockles. Leave to cool and season with a little salt.

3. Mix the onion with the remaining white wine, thyme, bay leaves and the garlic. Heat a large casserole dish on the stove for around 5 minutes until very hot. Add the cockles and cook for 1 minute, then add the onion mixture, cover immediately with the lid and cook for 3-4 minutes until steamed open. Pour the cockles onto a baking tray and allow to cool slightly. Pick the cockles out of their shells and put them in the pickling liquor. Leave for at least a day. Drain when ready to use.

4. For the nasturtium oil: using a blender, combine the nasturtium leaves with the olive oil. Store in a sterilised jar and keep for up to a week.

5. For the tempura batter: sift plain flour, corn flour and sea salt into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the ice cold sparkling mineral water along with a few ice cubes but don't over beat - it doesn't matter if there are a few lumps. Use immediately.

6. Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer or wok. Coat a quarter of the nasturtium flowers and leaves in the tempura batter and fry in the hot oil until crisp. Once golden remove, season with salt and a squeeze of lemon juice.

7. In a frying pan, heat a little olive oil and fry the bream fillets until they have a crisp skin, turn and continue until cooked all the way through.

8. Pour a drizzle of nasturtium oil on the plate, toss the cockles in a little olive oil, scatter them around the plate, add the tempura, and remaining leaves and flowers. Sprinkle with capers and shallot rings. Serve.

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