Salad of smoked bonito, piquillo peppers and celery

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 8 people

  • 150 gm bonito fillets, skin on
  • 30 gm sea salt
  • 50 gm brown sugar
  • 300 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small celery stalk (from the inner section of the bunch), thinly sliced, leaves torn
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1-1½ piquillo peppers, sliced (see note)
  • 1 spring onion, thinly sliced
  •  
  • Vinaigrette
  • 40 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 40 ml white vinegar
  • ½ garlic clove, microplaned
01   Put the bonito fillets in a non-reactive container. Whisk the salt, brown sugar and 750ml (3 cups) water in a bowl until the salt and sugar have dissolved, then pour onto the fish, cover and refrigerate to brine lightly for 20 minutes.
02   Remove the fillets from the brine, pat them dry with absorbent paper, then cold-smoke them (see note) for 15-20 minutes at medium-high smoke.
03   Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the bonito fillets and poach in the oil, warming them through until they’re flaking apart. Remove with a slotted spoon. Once cool enough to handle, peel off and discard the skin, then flake the fish.
04   For the vinaigrette, place all ingredients in a bowl, season with a pinch of fine sea salt and whisk to combine.
05   Arrange the flaked bonito, celery and leaves, cucumber and piquillo pepper on a plate. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and finish with spring onion.
Note Piquillo peppers are available from select delicatessens. Milgate and Abrahanowicz like to use the cold smoking method because it gives more control over temperature and a more delicate finish to the fish. They use a little charcoal just to get the wood chips started; you want to produce plenty of smoke but no fire. Cold-smokers are available from specialist barbecue stores. This recipe is from Recipes for a Good Time (RRP $59.95) by Elvis Abrahanowicz & Ben Milgate, published by Murdoch Books, and has been reproduced with minor Gourmet Traveller style changes.
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