Freshly torn from its plant, cilantro transforms a sad excuse of a salad into a party on a plate. And you’re invited.
Unless you have a hotline to Dan Barber’s brain, growing coriander can be a trifle tricky. Best tip? Don’t bother with the supermarket plants. They are merely dejected relatives of the real thing and never live longer than their first haircut.
Instead, follow these cinchy steps: (1) Sow salad seeds in a 25cm deep, well-drained pot. (2) Feed with at least 8 hours sunlight on a windowsill. (3) Keep well watered. (4) Brag to everyone in the office that you GYO and let them rub your halo.
This will feed 4, but we double the quantities for supper parties. Very little work involved.
For the floppy fennel:
Juice of 2 limes
1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1–2 red onions, finely sliced into semi-circles
1 fennel, topped and tailed, and finely sliced
For the ceviche:
400g super-fresh fish like mackerel or wild salmon
Juice of 1 blood orange
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sea salt flakes (much less, if you have regular sea salt)
Bunch of fresh cilantro, leaves only
A few tablespoons pomegranate seeds
To make the floppy fennel, whisk together the lime juice, fish sauce, sesame oil and maple syrup with a fork. Depending on the size of your limes, you may need to adjust the tartness by adding a smidgeon more sesame oil. Taste. Hover. Leap. Prostrate.
Pour over the thinly sliced red onions and fennel. In a few minutes, the vegetables will turn floppy and sweet, as if inebriated by the dressing. Leave them be and get going on the ceviche.
Ask your fishmonger to skin and bone the fish. If he’s really nice, he’ll cut them into bite-sized pieces for you too. Otherwise, you’ll have to see to all three steps yourself before making the ceviche. Tumble the fish with the citrus juice, olive oil and flakes of salt. Allow to infuse for 1 hour or more in the fridge, but anything past 4 hours will turn the fish rubbery.
Stir through mountains of torn cilantro and pomegranate seeds. Serve on a very large plate and have everyone help themselves alongside the bowls of floppy fennel. Plain quinoa is a great side too with a couple tablespoons of desiccated coconut.
Some crazy-ass news?
The US edition of my cookbook, Tasty.Naughty.Healthy.Nice, reached number 1 on Amazon for New Releases. #WTAF
As a result, Amazon have dropped the price in celebration. Here’s the link, should you fancy sending an American pal some Irish sunshine through the post this week!
Namaste my friends.