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Salmon bouillabaisse and buttercup squash by Warwick Brown

11 September 2006

Buttercup squashes not to be confused with butternut squashes are the size and shape of Charentais melons. The fact that they weigh almost twice as much is a clue to their texture - very starchy a bit like a sweet potato. They have a bright golden colour and loads of taste when measured against most other varieties.

Mashed as with this recipe they are fine but they would also make a great stuffing for ravioli.

For the buttercup squash
(Prepare in advance and keep hot or microwave to reheat)
(Serves four)
250g peeled and seeded buttercup squash
2tbs olive oil
4 strands of saffron pounded with a dash of water
2tbs of puréed roasted and skinned red capsicum
1tbs seedless raisins soaked in warm water
Salt and pepper

Cube the squash and steam for six minutes. Put in a food processor with olive oil and blend to a purée. Fold in the capsicum purée and raisins. Check the seasonings.

For the bouillabaisse sauce (about one litre for 10 portions)
100ml olive oil
80g chipped onion
4 cloves garlic
1 small sliced fennel bulb
1tsp salt dissolved in 4tbs hot water
1tsp tomato paste
300ml fish stock
500g fresh tomato fondue (see below)
½tsp of saffron strands soaked in a little boiling water
2 star anise
Zest of one orange
1 small bunchparsley
1 small bunchthyme
150ml shellfish coulis (crayfish prawns or lobster shells and trimmings simmered in water to cover blended and sieved)
Salt and pepper

For the garnish stoned small blackolives about nine per portion

Warm the olive oil in a saucepan. Turn down the heat and add the onion garlic and fennel. Pourin the salted water and let the onion stew until soft.

Stir in the tomato paste and let it cook out for a minute or so then add the stock and tomato fondue. Bring to the boil. Add the saffron star anise orange parsley and thyme. Simmer for 10 minutes only.

Pass the bouillabaisse sauce through a chinois into a clean pan. Press the vegetables only slightly to extract flavour don't force them through.

Stir in the shellfish coulis and adjust the seasoning. The taste is of a concentrated Provençal fish soup lifted by a strong shellfish note. Allow 100ml sauce per serving.

To prepare the tomato fondue (part of the basic mise en place at Mikano)

Sweat 200g onions in oil with a little garlic thyme and bay leaf. Stir in 1tbs heaped tomato paste. Cook out and add 1kg skinned tomato. Stew till tender. Season and sieve.

For the salmon supremes (For one portion allow 160g)

Most New Zealand salmon is farmed but the best is "ranched". The young fish are released into the river when they are ready to swim out to sea. They are then trapped as they swim back up the river to spawn exactly as wild fish would be.

Scrape the scales off the fish gut it and rinse under the tap.

Remove the fillet. Pinch out the pin bones with a pair of tweezers. Cut into 160g portions.

Turn the fillet skin-side up. Score a cross in the skin. Rub a little Maldon salt and olive oil into the skin and flesh.

Brush a non-stick pan with a minimal amount of oil and heat to just below smoke-point. Add the fillet skin side down. Fry the fish on one side only. It shouldbe cooked abouttwo-thirds of the way through when you remove it.

The technique of cooking fish unilaterally (ie one side only) is applicable to all firm-fleshed fish but it works especially well with salmon because of its oiliness. The skin crisps up and is probably the tastiest part of the dish.

To serve each portion

Spoon a quarter of the purée into the centre of a large soup dish. Put the fillet on top skin-side up. Dot olives around it. Ladle a generous amount of the sauce around the salmon.

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