Friday, 24 January 2014

Haggis Summer Rolls (Recipe) - for Burns Night and every night

Tiny Thief
Tiny thief

The first time I tried haggis was 15 years ago when one of my brothers married a Scottish lass up in Edinburgh. If I recall correctly, it was used to stuff a chicken galantine, and I was hugely relieved that it wasn't as offensive as I'd been led to believe.

Several years later, I found myself at their house for a Burns Night supper where my sister-in-law began proceedings by reciting a Robert Burns poem, which to this day, my husband refers to as "when Gayle sang to a haggis".

Great Chieftain of the Pudding Race
Great Chieftain of the Pudding Race

Haggis was relatively difficult to come by down South however - at least, you wouldn't see it in your local butchers or supermarket.

I remember when I first saw a MacSween's a few years ago and was delighted that the "real deal" had made it to England.

Now of course, you can get a whole selection - I picked up this lot from my Morrisons, including a vegetarian haggis for my mother-in-law which is presumably made of sawdust and oats.


I even picked up a packet of cocktail haggis which unfurls rather alarmingly (don't say what you see).

Cocktail Haggis
Cocktail haggis

I've grown incredibly fond of the stuff now. If you've never tried haggis, it's like a gently spiced, open-textured sausage and really quite versatile, although nothing beats the haggis, neeps and tatties combo.

If you'd like to experiment though, recipes exist for haggis wontons and haggis samosas. I've made haggis larb and haggis sausage rolls, but this is one of my favourite recipes - haggis summer rolls.

Yes, I know, it's Vietnamese-Scottish fusion. But I stick all sorts of things in summer rolls - from siu yuk to roast duck to Fridge Raiders to PEK (a bit like SPAM but tastier) and they've all worked brilliantly.

Try these for Burns Night Supper tomorrow, or indeed any night you feel like ...

Haggis Summer Rolls
Haggis Summer Rolls

Haggis Summer Rolls Recipe
(adapted from my recipe on Channel 4 here)

Serves 4 as a snack or a starter


For the Vietnamese-ish summer rolls (goi cuon)
  • 12 rice paper wrappers (large 22cm circles)
  • 200g rice vermicelli noodles
  • 2 little gem lettuces, leaves separated
  • 500g cooked haggis
  • Fresh mint and coriander leaves
  • Small bunch of chives, chopped into 8cm lengths
For the Burns Night dipping sauce
  • 2 tbsp whisky
  • 2 tbsp marmalade
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 50ml boiling water
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 red finger chillies, thinly sliced
  • Large clean work surface or chopping board (bigger surface area than a rice paper wrapper)
  • Large tupperware or oven dish (big enough to hold a rice paper wrapper)

</b><b><b>Rolling up the summer roll</b>
Rolling up the summer roll

Soak the noodles in just-boiled water for 10-15 minutes, drain, and snip into chipolata-sized clumps.
Whisk the dipping sauce ingredients in a bowl and taste. Adjust according to your own palate – if it's not salty enough for you, add a little fish sauce and so on. Set to one side.
Fill the large dish with warm water (by warm, I mean eg water from a kettle that was boiled and left to rest for 10 minutes).

Time to assemble your summer rolls. Lightly dip a rice paper wrapper in the warm water, keeping it flat, but so every part of the wrapper is thoroughly moist. Immediately place the wrapper flat on your board or work surface. It will feel too stiff at first but will soften up.

The aim is to make a sausage-sized filling for the roll. Layer the ingredients as follows:  place a lettuce leaf horizontally across the wrapper. Then add a clump of noodles on top of this, and then a tablespoonful of haggis. Finish with a generous scattering of herbs and 4-5 chives.

Fold the bottom edge of the wrapper cleanly over the top of the filling and press down the edges, to make a rough semi-circle. Now fold over both sides of the wrapper and press down so it looks a bit like an envelope. Finally, tightly roll up the whole summer roll like a fat cigar.

Repeat for the other rolls. You will have to refresh the warm water in the oven dish. 

When you've made all the rolls, serve immediately with the dipping sauce. If you're saving them for later, store in an airtight Tupperware in the fridge interleaved with clingfilm so they don't dry out or stick together and eat them within a day.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Miso Salmon with Soba Noodles Recipe

Miso Salmon
Miso Salmon, Green Tea Soba Noodles, Stir-fried Shimeji Mushrooms

I don't believe in diets, but sometimes I feel like I'm stretched too tightly, uncomfortable in my own skin like the bug man in Men in Black.

Times like those, I still want to eat my fill, but I don't want to have to have a lie-down afterwards.

This Japanese-influenced dish does the trick - the dressed noodles are bright and zingy, whilst the salmon is sweet, comforting and savoury.

Even better, after a bit of advance prep, it only takes 15 minutes to cook.

Miso Salmon

Miso Salmon with Soba Noodles 

Serves 2
All ingredients are available in larger supermarkets, health food stores or online from the Japan Centre.

  • 2 salmon fillets, about 150-200g each, skin still on 
  • 150g dried soba noodles (I used matcha ie green tea soba) 
  • Groundnut or other neutral oil for frying
  • 1 spring onion, green and white parts, finely sliced 
  • 1 tsp black sesame seeds 

For the salmon marinade:
  • 1 rounded tbsp miso, any type (I like shiro or white)
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar 
  • 1 tbsp mirin or sweet sherry 
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger 
  • Juice of 1/2 lime 

 For the noodle dressing:
  • 2 tbsp ponzu
  • 1 tsp yuzu juice or juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil 
  • 1 tsp shichimi togarashi (Japanese mixed pepper) or mild chilli powder 

Optional: Stir-fried mushrooms (as in the photos)
  • 1 clump of shimeji (beech mushrooms) or handful of shiitake or chestnut mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp ponzu

Mix the salmon marinade ingredients together and then slather all over the salmon fillets. You don't need salt as the miso is quite salty. Place the salmon skin side down in a small ovenproof dish or baking tray and cover with clingfilm. Chill for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour before you intend to cook.

Cook the soba noodles according to the packet instructions and set to one side. Whisk the noodle dressing ingredients together in a bowl or jug and set to one side.

If making the mushrooms, slice the bottom section off the clump of shimeji to separate them or slice the shiitake/chestnut mushrooms. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan or wok and add the mushrooms and the ponzu and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes. Set to one side in the pan.

Remove the salmon from the fridge. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large frying pan or flat griddle pan on medium-high. Fry the salmon fillets skin side up for 4 minutes, and then flip carefully so the skin is facing down and then fry for another 4 minutes so the skin browns and crisps up.

(Or put your grill on its highest setting, stick in the dish of salmon and grill skin side down for 4 minutes, and then flip carefully so the skin is facing up and then grill for another 4 minutes so the skin browns and crisps up).

When the salmon is ready, divide the noodles between two plates and drizzle the dressing all over. Place the salmon (and the mushrooms) on the noodles, sprinkle with the spring onions and sesame seeds and serve immediately. Eat the skin. For the love of all that's holy, EAT THE GODDAMN DELICIOUS CRISPY SKIN.

*Ponzu is a Japanese dipping/cooking sauce which you can buy in bottles or make yourself by mixing dashi, citrus juice and mirin in this proportion - 2:2:1.

Miso Salmon