smoked fish salad with roasted turnips
Thu, 2 May, 2019
Smoked fish, roasted turnips, olives and capers make a fantastic salad. Turnips are plentiful, full of fibre and fractionally as calorific as potatoes. Roasted baby turnip chunks go well with salty and smoky flavours. I’m lobbying for turnips here!
I’m a sucker for good new combinations. Salads are a fertile field to experiment and it makes me feel virtuous: even if the flavour combination is a miss, I’m still eating a salad! Low calorie and full of goodness!
I do like the idea of combining warm and starchy with cold and fishy – takes me back to my beloved Polish herring and potato salad of my youth (not childhood obvs, since feeding pickled herring to a kid is like squirting a vegan with cow milk: they’ll run in horror or burst into tears). Digression: it needs a special type of herring, salted and preserved in oil which seems to have existed only in the East European communist regime period. Even the Scandinavians don’t do that, nor Germans: they just souse herring in vinegar and that is not the way to a potato salad at all, however nice it might taste all the same.
Potato and fish is a classic anyway, which fishcakes, fish pies or my cod and potato bake can bear witness to. As salads go, I’ve tried celeriac, rice and noodles fish combos – now time for the humblest, most overlooked and undervalued of root vegetables: turnip.
I guess medieval hermits are to blame: the common concept of living in a wooden shack in the deep of a forest feeding on roots and berries. While berries sound tasty, the roots not so much; and I always imagined poor monks chomping on soil-dirty raw turnips while lashing themselves with birch twigs.
Turnips deserve better: they are tough old boots but soften after about an hour in the oven; they can also be pre-boiled and then blast-roasted. Still, small baby turnips are a better pick. I like the fact they don’t go mushy like Jerusalem artichokes and even parsnips; more fibrous but less starchy, they are over four times less calorific than potatoes. They go nicely with salty and smoky flavours so my choice of capers and olives was spot-on.
PS. If you don’t have a clue what I’m even talking about here, turnip may also be known as rutabaga, neep or swede; even though only neeps and turnips are strictly the same. Turnip is purple on top and has thinnish skin; swede is bigger, coarser, tougher and turned into lanterns for Halloween in the north of England. Rutabaga is kohlrabi, green and tasty raw. Neeps are Scottish for turnips as in ‘neeps and haggis’.
smoked fish salad with roasted turnipsServings: 2-4Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- 300-400g baby turnips, peeled
- 1 tbsp. butter, melted
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- salt and black pepper
- 20g freshly grated Parmesan
- 10-12 black olives, pitted and halved
- 1 tsp capers, rinsed
- 2 tsp white balsamic vinegar
- 2 hot smoked fish (Arbroath smokie, mackerel, trout etc.)
- 4 spring onions, finely chopped
- shredded lettuce
- toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Cut the turnips into quarters or into six wedges if they are large; they should be bite-sized. Toss them in a bowl with the butter, oil and maple syrup; season with salt and pepper. Spread them on a baking dish in a single layer and sprinkle with a third of the Parmesan. Roast for 1 hour, turning them over and adding more Parmesan once or twice.
2. While the turnips are roasting, place the olives and capers in a small bowl and pour over the balsamic vinegar. Leave them to macerate, while you skin the smoked fish and flake it into chunks. Take care to remove the bones though it’s hard to pick them all out so be careful when eating too.
3. When the turnips are very tender and browned, remove them from the oven and let them cool down a little. In a bowl toss together the smoked fish, chopped spring onions, drained olives and capers; then stir in the turnip pieces.
4. Serve the salad piled on a bed of shredded lettuce, sprinkled with seeds if using.