Tuesday, February 22, 2011

West Coast Meander

On a recent weekend adventure I found myself stumbling across a well hidden, food- lover’s paradise and discovering a unique aspect of South African cuisine in the little village of Paternoster. With the current trend of using fresh, regional ingredients, Paternoster has so much to offer, from surings (an edible long stemmed flower) to fresh mussels picked off the rocks. This little hamlet has a colourful food culture evolved from years of its people living off the harsh terrain and harvesting the treasures of the sea.

Paternoster’s white washed village and seemingly never ending shoreline, dotted with brightly coloured fishing boats is worth the visit alone. But, more than that, I loved the authentic west coast cuisine on offer at the local Winkel op Paternoster’- moskonfyt snoek, bokkoms and potbrood. Another culinary discovery was the wafer thin, pure sea salt flakes harvested nearby - they add a delicious crunchiness to roast potato wedges and salads.

With the shouts of “vars kreef, sappige kreefstert” and the smell of braai fires on the salt-infused air, it’s a picture perfect place to relax and savour authentic South African cuisine.

Snoek Pate
A delicious variation is to add a few finely chopped, dried apricots after blending the pate.
Serve this with fresh, crusty bread as a starter.

3 medium potatoes, peeled
300g smoked snoek
3 tsp tomato paste
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
¾ cup olive oil
20g flat leaf parsley
20g chives, finely chopped

Boil the potatoes in a pot and mash them with a fork.
Remove the skin and bones of the fish and flake the meat.
Mix all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
Taste and add seasoning, if needed.
If it looks slightly dry add additional olive oil.
To serve, garnish with finely chopped chives.

Crayfish, smoked Salmon and Avocado Salad
(Makes 6 portions)
A modern version of the classic avocado Ritz salad

3 ripe avocados
Juice of 1 lemon
Rocket leaves, watercress leaves and butter lettuce, as desired
300 g smoked salmon
2 crayfish tails, boiled and cut into medallions
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
A bunch of fennel sprigs, roughly chopped

For the dressing:
½ cup home-made mayonnaise
1 tsp tomato paste
1 tbsp brandy (optional)
5 drops Tabasco sauce
½ cup pouring cream
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Toss the lettuce leaves in olive oil just before plating the salad.
Cut the avocado into wedges and squeeze lemon juice over the wedges to prevent discolouring.
Combine the sauce ingredients.
Arrange the dressed leaves on a big platter and toss with crayfish tail medallions, avocado wedges and ribbons of smoked salmon. Drizzle the sauce over the salad and serve as a starter salad platter.
Garnish with roughly chopped fennel and freshly grated black pepper.

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