In December I had a very special opportunity to visit New Zealand for the first time. We were there for two full weeks and stayed at friends homes and at various spots along the West Coast on the North Island and also a few days on the South Island in Queenstown and Wanaka.
There were many cafes, restaurants, and even fresh-style yogurt shops where we had some very memorable meals. The food and lifestyle there felt so relaxed and laid-back and I loved that if you walked into any convenient food or coffee shop it would almost be guaranteed that you’d find a quiche or frittata thing set behind a glass case next to all the other amazing looking eats. Always a frittata! I love them. Also pretty rad to see the growing awareness of organics and focus on quality and originality in healthier ways throughout parts. It was chilly when we were there. And so windy! Halfway through the trip, I started ordering a soy chai latte at just about every coffee spot we hit up, on a kick. And oh man, those drinks! They are sooo good. I’m actually not a soy milk drinker, prefer almond or coconut but kept it easy and just went for it. Those cups were perfect with the weather during those days.
There’s this inspiration I’ve been sitting on from our time there, though. The beaches, the sleepy surf towns we stayed in, the jams on the radio cruising through, our day at Oxbow in Wanaka, the rocky road, the people I met and friends we cooked with, the meals we shared. Our adventures and moments were so humbling to me. I made this a few weeks ago after it had been in the back of mind for a while. It’s a dish recreated from this cafe in Queenstown. Mount Cook beet-cured salmon with crispy purple sweet potato (kumara) hash, spinach, poached eggs, and sweet beet relish.
Some pics off our phones from when we were in Wanaka/Queenstown/Auckland/Raglan and some beaches Muriwai/Ruapuke/Maori Bay
I made a few changes to the original but still kept it super close to the way it was served that morning. Grated a purple sweet potato variety instead of a white or russet potato to make the hash. Used lots of citrus zest, some coriander and fennel seeds, and both red and chiogga beets in the beet cure. Also some honey and lots of black pepper and fresh dill for a spiced rub. The dish came together really well and the salmon stretched our meals out for a few days with snacks and other ways to have with eggs too. I wrapped some up in parchment to give to friends and had some solid feedback in a photo sent to me with a few slices over smashed avocado toast.
Beetroot and Peppercorn Spiced Cured Salmon with Crispy Kumara Hash, Poached Eggs, and Sweet Beet Relish Salmon serves 6-8 // Hash dish serves 4
Beetroot Cured Salmon
2 to 2 1/2 pounds side of skin-on wild salmon, scaled and filleted, pin bones removed, rinsed and patted dry
1 cup Kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground fennel seeds
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground coriander seeds
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground whole black peppercorns
Zest of 1 lemon, orange, and lime
2 cups packed and finely grated raw red beets, (from about 3 medium beets) – I used both red and candy striped Chiogga beets
1/4 cup fresh dill, coarsely chopped
Honey Glazed Peppercorn + Dill Spice Rub
2 tablespoons freshly ground whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
1/4 cup fresh dill, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons runny honey
Sweet Beet Relish
1 medium red beet, cut into 1/4 by 2-inch sticks
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 pinch cinnamon 1 pinch ground cloves
Hash + Eggs
1 large sweet potato, coarsely grated – I used a purple variety
1 large egg
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pinch smoked paprika (optional)
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper (optional)
1 cup baby spinach leaves
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling and frying
4 large eggs for poaching
To Make the Salmon
Over a work surface, place the salmon skin side up and make a few small cuts evenly over the skin to reveal the flesh below. Turn the fish over onto a plastic wrap lined baking sheet large enough to lay the salmon skin side down. In a medium mixing bowl, mix to combine the grated beets, salt, sugar, spices, citrus zest, and dill. Spread the mixture over the salmon and firmly pack it onto the fish. Wrap the entire baking sheet in plastic wrap ensuring the fillet is covered tightly. Place another baking tray on top of the salmon. Weigh the tray down with few heavy items such as unopened canned foods or jarred pasta sauce. A brick wrapped in foil works great. Leave to refrigerate for 48-72 hours. *I cured mine for two days. Once cured, unwrap the fish and gently scrape off the beet mixture. Rinse the salmon under cold water and pat dry. In a small bowl, mix to combine the ground peppercorns, chili flakes, and dill. Using a pastry brush, brush the salmon lightly with honey until evenly coated. Scatter the spice mixture over the fish, pressing the dill and spices into place. Chill and wrap in parchment or plastic wrap until ready to serve.
To Make the Beet Relish
In a small saucepan, combine the beet sticks, water, vinegar, honey, salt, mustard seeds, and spices and cook over medium until the beets are tender and the sauce has reduced into a glaze coating the beets. Set aside and let cool.
To Make the Hash and Eggs + Assembly
Bring a medium saucepot of salted vinegared water to a boil. In a small mixing bowl, beat an egg, add the grated potato, and season with salt, pepper and spices. In a large skillet, add the olive oil over medium-low heat. Gather a loose 3/4 cup or handful of the grated sweet potato mixture and press into the shape of a flat patty, about 4-5 inches round. Place the patty in the pan and press down. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes per side, checking for doneness and crispiness. While the hash rounds are crisping and the water is up to a full boil, poach the eggs until the whites are set and wound into teardrop-like shapes, with the yolks still super soft. Using a slotted spoon, remove the eggs from the poaching liquid and set in a holding dish. Place the hash rounds on plates and garnish each with a few spinach leaves dressed in lemon juice and olive oil. Thinly slice and portion the salmon and arrange 4 to 5 pieces over each round. Spoon the beet relish within a few pockets along the slices. Top each with a poached egg, season with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and serve.