Royston Savio Vaz, chef de cuisine at Vinesse at The Oberoi Beach Resort Al Zorah, shares a dish that uses one of his favourite ingredients: fennel
Recipe: Seafood, mesclun and fennel
Royston Savio Vaz, chef de cuisine at Vinesse at The Oberoi Beach Resort Al Zorah, says of his favourite ingredient: “Thomas Jefferson wrote: ‘The fennel is beyond every other vegetable, delicious. It greatly resembles in appearance the largest size celery, perfectly white, and there is no vegetable that equals it in flavour. It is eaten at dessert, crude, and with or without dry salt; indeed I prefer it to every other vegetable, or to any fruit.’ Originating in the Mediterranean, fennel is a beautifully aromatic herb that is enjoyed throughout the culinary world as a fresh, preserved or seeded ingredient.
It has now been adopted for its ability to grow well in varying climatic conditions and for its hearty nature. In the kitchen, all parts of the plant – from the bulb to the foliage and the seeds – are used as ingredients for various dishes. Most famously, the fennel seed is used as a post-meal mouth-freshener. The bulb is eaten fresh in salads or as a meal accompaniment, and the dill-like leaves are used as garnishes and flavourings in salads and soups. As illustrated in this recipe, paired with fresh seafood, mixed leaves, blueberries, turkey chorizo and sweet orange segments, this salad with fresh fennel and toasted fennel seed powder is an ideal summer meal. A large serving of fennel salad is good for health and keeps you active and energetic.”
Seafood, mesclun and fennel salad
4 medium-sized prawns
Sea salt, crushed black pepper and butter, as required
2 squids, whole with tentacles
100g fennel bulb
2g fennel seeds
10g turkey chorizo
1 Valencia orange
100ml olive oil
50g baby gem lettuce
Fennel tops, for garnish
Clean the prawns, and marinate with salt and pepper. Pan-fry in olive oil, then set aside.
Cut the squid lengthwise and score with a knife. Pan-sear the tentacles and tubes in butter and set aside.
Thinly shave the fennel bulb and set aside in chilled water.
Lightly toast the fennel seeds and crush to a rough powder
Slice the chorizo thinly, place on a medium-hot pan and sear, turning every minute. Remove on kitchen paper.
Carefully remove the orange segments and save the juice. In a mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, fennel powder and orange juice. Blitz using a hand blender. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
Dress the washed letucce, rucola, frisse, shaved fennel and blueberries with the fennel dressing in a mixing bowl. Arrange on the plate, add the seafood in the bowl, lightly dress it, then add to the plate.
Garnish with the crisp turkey chorizo, orange segments and fennel tops.