Choucroute De Mer

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choucrouteDeMer This is the perfect split between my German home cooking and my current home in England. I call it Fish and Chips, Brittany-style for the English, Sauerkraut Unn Fisch for the Germans, and Choucroute de Mer for the French-aware among us. I have heard of French people denying this meal’s authenticity, but trust me. You’ll find it in many places in Brittany.

It’s simple, it’s surprising, it’s different, it’s impressive, it’s delicious.

For 4 to 5 people, you’ll need a large jar (850g?) of Sauerkraut (=Choucroute). In England, you can now get it in most Supermarkets, and in all Polish Delicatessen. Per head, you need 120g of salmon (smoked salmon filet pieces preferred) each, 100g of white fish such as Cod or Haddock, and a couple of large prawns or langoustines.

First, cut half an onion into half rings, fry with a little white fat or lard and a good handful of dry cured lardons (or small pieces of good quality bacon). Add 850g Sauerkraut (drain it in a colander first), half a cup of dry white wine, 3 crushed juniper berries, 2 bay leaves, a pinch of salt. Cover, reduce the heat and allow to simmer on very low heat. Time is not critical provided the heat is very low.

Heat butter in a frying pan and gently fry pieces of salmon fillet. I prefer using lightly smoked salmon. When using fresh salmon, which has more moisture, I suggest dusting it with a mix from wheat flour and ground ginger.

Heat up milk in another frying pan – about 1 1/2 fingers deep. Don’t bring it to the boil, but close. Add 4 juniper berries and 2 bay leaves, then gently simmer the white fish pieces in it. This needs time (15 minutes?) because you’ll be cooking at only 80 Celcius, approximately. If the lardons (or the bacon) hadn’t done it already, now was the moment to realize this is not a kosher meal.

Meanwhile… heat up a good amount of olive oil in a small wok or pan. Add some real fire with some red chillies and a heap of fresh garlic, then fry the prawns.

Now finish the Sauerkraut with a generous amount of double cream. Stir this well under.

You’re done!

Put a nice heap of kraut on each plate, salmon and white fish on top, crowned by some hot prawns. Serves well with steamed potatoes or crispy potato wedges. Goes with white wine, and lots of Aaaaaahs.

Trust me. I know it sounds weird, but it really is lovely (and recently got approved by yet another crowd at my table).


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