Sorrel sauce and salmon

As I suspect is the case with most British cooks, I don’t use sorrel often enough. But a few weeks ago my herb column for Borough Market prompted me to buy (and use) a few bunches, and the experience reminded me that this near citrus-like herb is versatile, zesty, and bright.

Since then I’ve chopped it through bulgar wheat, dotted whole leaves through green salads, and fermented the herb to use in a variety of ways. I’m still happiest, though, with the recipe I put together for that piece – a sorrel sauce to be served in generous quantities, at room temperature or cooler, with warm oily fish and a cold, crisp, mooli salad.

sorrel and salmon from the side
A classic sorrel sauce is simply made by adding the (shredded) herb to a cream base. The herb is cooked for a while, thus mellowing and dulling it. I’ve tried, however, to keep an element of vivid green in this dish, by using a few peas in the sauce, and liquidising everything so that we get a smooth and lively result. I think this mirrors the flavour of the herb. Half fat crème fraiche also keeps things lighter than a traditional cream reduction sauce.

You could serve this with salmon, any form of trout (sea trout is superb right now, but farmed rainbow trout – which is totally different – would also be good), cooked mackerel or even a white fish like turbot. Whichever you choose, do include with the crunchy apple and mooli salad on the side.

This is a really clean and refreshing summer dish. Let me know if you give it a go.

Sorrel and salmon

Sorrel sauce (with salmon and an apple and mooli salad)
Serves 4

  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 20g butter 
  • 60g dry vermouth
  • 60 frozen peas (iced weight)
  • 110g crème fraiche
  • 70g sorrel leaves, shredded 
  • Pinch sea salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Tiny squeeze of lemon
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 4 salmon or trout fillets 
  • 4 inches of Japanese mooli
  • 1 Granny Smith
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • Sea salt

First make the sauce. Serve this just above room temperature, so it can cool a little whilst you cook the salmon.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low to medium heat. Add the shallot and soften for 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat up a little and add the vermouth. Cook down for 1 minute, then add the frozen peas. Cook for 1 minute, then add the crème fraiche. Bring to the boil and cook for another minute.

Transfer the contents of the saucepan to a liquidizer and blitz for a minute. Add the sorrel and blitz for 2-3 minutes until very smooth. Season well with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Add the egg yolk and blend for another minute. Pour into a jug and set to one side.

Peel the mooli. Slice this and the apple very finely – ideally using a Japonese mandolin. Cut the apple slices in half (to create a crescent shape). Put immediately in a bowl and squeeze lemon juice over to stop them going brown. Then add the mooli and a good pinch of sea salt. Allow to macerate and soften whilst you cook the fish.

Cook the fish skin side down. Use a thick bottomed frying pan with a little oil over a medium flame. Leave the fish on the skin until the ‘cooked’ colour of the fish has gone just over half way up the fillet. Flip the fillets on each of it’s exposed sides for 30 seconds, then flip over onto the uncooked base of the fish. Turn the heat off and allow the fish to sit in the pan for 1 minute more.

Plate up with a generous portion of sauce next to each piece of fish – at least 4 tablespoons (you might even serve this in a bowl) – and a good pinch of the apple and mooli salad.