Wild Irish salmon is a now a rare treat, but for the last couple of years we have managed to get a small number from fishermen on the Blackwater River. We treasure each one and eat some fresh, cure and smoke some ourselves, or give them to Bill Casey, our local smoker, to smoke for us. We hot- and cold-smoke the salmon and teach the students both methods of preserving. For this recipe we use cold-smoked salmon, but flakes of the hot-smoked variety would also be delicious.
For the Pickled Red Onions:
For the Arjard (cucumber salad):
To make the pickled onions, put the vinegar, sugar, salt, and spices in a heavy-bottomed pan and bring to a boil. Put in one-third of the sliced onions and simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until they turn pink and wilt. Lift out the cooked onions with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a 1 pint sterilized jam jar with a nonreactive lid. Repeat with the rest of the onions, cooking them in two batches. Top off the jar with the hot vinegar, put on the lid, and set aside to cool overnight. Once cold, store in the fridge.
To make the Arjard, put all the ingredients except the cucumber in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once cold, pour the marinade over the slices of cucumber and set aside to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
To serve, arrange the cubes of salmon on a plate, add some Arjard and pickled red onion and scatter a few sprigs of chervil, wild garlic, or chive flowers over the top. Finish with some freshly ground black pepper.
From 30 Years at Ballymaloe by Darina Allen © 2014 Kyle Books.
Chef Daniel Patterson makes a strong case against using tongs in the kitchen. "There is nothing that is better suited to toss a salad than your hands," he says.