Monday, 30 January 2012

saffron | The Gypsy Chef

Wednesday, 30 March, 2011 01:26 Written by tom

Hello peeps, hope you are all enjoying the first smells, sights and fun of summer.

So with the Pond water Prosecco cocktail, I served an interesting and eye-catching canapé. The inspiration for this dish came from talking to an Anglo-Romani Gypsy about foods that he remembered from his childhood. Snails were one of the first things to come up. The humble companions to this weird animal were tomatoes, garlic and lots of herbs. I loved the idea, so I let the creative juices flow and invented what I think was a very successful canapé. (below)

This was one of those dishes that I had been formulating in my head, but had not tested it or tried most of its component parts before the big day. Thus I was slightly worried about how it would turn out. I have to say it stole the show. Everyone at the party was a bit freaked by the look of it, I thinks it looked out of this world! The alien like organic shape of the snail juxtaposed with the cube of tomato jelly and the vivid orange of the saffron salt contrasted by pastel tones of the herb emulsion gave it real visual interest.

The taste and textures of the canapé are very hard to describe, it reminded me of an old world, longforgotten in most modern cuisine. As it entered the mouth, a flavor journey began; starting with the strong aromatics of the saffron salt and herb emulsion hitting the palate, through the rich protein tasting confit snail finishing with a subtle aroma and taste of the tomato and garlic jelly. There were clear textures that offset their counterparts, the snail and jelly melted in the mouth, whilst the crunch of the crouton and salt added interest with the chew of the herb emulsion finishing the mouthful nicely. So let me finish with a breakdown of the saffron salt as it was arguably the star of this canapé and the twist that made it. And it has to be said, is a very versatile and innovative salt to use on many dishes.

Baked Saffron Salt (below)


300mls Filtered Water

30mls White Wine Vinegar

1g Saffron

125g Maldon Sea Salt


Add the saffron, water and vinegar to a pan and warm until the colour of the saffron has completely transferred into the liquor. The vinegar adds a certain piquant to the salt. Strain the liquor and whilst still warm dissolve the salt in the liquor. Add the solution to a glass oven dish and bake at 160 degrees c for 45 mins or until the solution has dried and the salt has re-crystalized. Then leave to dry for a further hour in a warm place. Break up the crystals and seal in a air tight container. The flavour and colour will depreciate over time.

Bon appetit!


Ciao peeps