I tasted this unusual savoury sabayon sauce on a trip to New York in a wonderful restaurant called Aquavit, and thought it would be just perfect with our smoked salmon ... and it is! It looks stunning drizzled around the little mounds of tartare, acting as a perfect foil to its clean fresh flavour, adding a bit of zing. Wasabi powder is available in most large supermarkets now, but if you can't find it, use wasabi paste or even creamed horseradish in its place.
For the pickled cucumber
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled and coarsely grated
- 3 tablespoons rice or white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar
For the smoked salmon tartare
- 250g (9 oz) thick smoked salmon fillet, skinned (royal fillet)
- 2 tablespoons each finely chopped dill, chives, guerkins and capers
- 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
- freshly ground black pepper
For the wasabi sabayon
- 4 large egg yolks
- 125ml (4 fl oz) dry vermouth
- 50ml (2 fl oz) fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2-3 teaspoons wasabi powder (Japanese horseradish powder - very strong!)
- olive oil, to serve
- Put all pickled cucumber ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Season, cover, place in fridge for 4-6 hours or overnight.
- Finely dice the salmon and place in a mixing bowl with the dill, chives, gherkins, capers and lemon zest. Season with freshly ground black pepper, stir to mix well (this can be prepared up to a day in advance and kept in the fridge until ready to serve).
- To make the sabayon, whisky the egg yolks, vermouth, lime juice and vinegar in a heatproof bowl until well blended. Set in the top of a double boiler (i.e. set over a pan of simmering water - the water must not touch the base of the bowl. Pyrex or a pudding basin is good for this). Whisky constantly using an electric whisk (or by hand if you are feeling strong) over the heat until the sabayon is thick and foamy, with a slight sheen, about 10 minutes.
- Whisk in the wasabi powder, taste and season with salt. Turn off the heat but keep the sabayon warm over the hot water until ready to serve.
- To serve, drain the cucumber in a sieve. Place a 10cm (4 inch) cook's ring in the centre of each serving plate and half-fill with the cucumber mixture. Press the mixture down firmly using the back of a spoon. Top with the smoked salmon tartare mixture, again pressing down with the back of a spoon. Carefully remove the rings and serve with a drizzle of wasabi sabayon. Drizzle a little olive oil around each portion and serve immediately.