Listener, Dec 2019
By Lauraine Jacobs
Turf and tide
In the spirit of more famous taste pairings, chefs are invited to make a meal of lamb and aquatic foods.
There are many classic combinations of foods that excite the palate – bacon and eggs, macaroni and cheese, peaches and cream, salt and pepper and spaghetti and meatballs, for example. How about matching lamb grown on coastal farms with food harvested from the nearby coastline and waterways, farmers Richard and Suze Redmayne asked themselves. So, they invited local and overseas chefs who offer Coastal Spring Lamb on their menus to create a dish that pairs this salty, sweet meat with fish, shellfish or coastal plants.
Richard Redmayne is the lead farmer and organiser of Coastal Lamb, a group of intergenerational family farms located on the east and west coasts of the North Island, where salt-laden winds blow over their herb-filled pastures. He says the aim of the competition was “to celebrate the unique point of difference of Coastal Lamb – its coastal provenance”.
Chefs from Asia and New Zealand rose to the challenge and international and local winners have been found – Johan Ducroquet, executive chef at Le Bistro Winebeast in Hong Kong, and Mat McLean from Palate in Hamilton. They will collaborate in cooking a lamb and seafood meal for coastal-farm families in February.
Ducroquet’s winning dish featured a Coastal Lamb loin and smoked eel pithivier, along with a slow-cooked confit Coastal Lamb shoulder croquette with gala apple and kiwifruit condiment, caramelised onions and honey, and a lamb jus.
McLean won with a tender Coastal Lamb loin and confit shoulder accompanied by smoked kelp, dashi potato, beach spinach, kimchi, white asparagus and kina butter.
Having been inspired, as a member of the judging panel, by the idea of matching lamb and seafood, I created this salad recipe to try over the summer holidays when I just might be able to forage for coastal herbs near our seaside bach.
SPRING LAMB COASTAL SALAD
200g spring lamb loin
sea salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cups watercress
12 mānuka-smoked mussels
1/2 cup foraged seaweed
1/2 cup foraged seaweed flowers and coastal plant shoots or fresh herbs
1/2 lemon, zest and juice
3 tbsp olive oil
Make sure the lamb is at room temperature and evenly coat it with plenty of salt and black pepper. Heat the oil in a small heavy-based frying pan until hot, then sear the lamb, turning frequently to give it an allover golden-brown crust.
Turn the heat down, cover with a lid and leave on the heat for 4-5 minutes, before placing the meat on a plate, covering it with foil and allowing it to rest for at least 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, discard any thick stalks from the watercress, wash it and shake it dry. Thinly slice the radishes.
Remove the tough brown foot from the mussels, taking care to not break the flesh.
Slice the lamb thinly.
Pick over the foraged seaweed and coastal plants for the salad and for use as a garnish. If you can’t get to the seashore, use fresh herbs and herb flowers.
Choose a few plant and herb sprigs to add to the salad and arrange the rest on four dinner plates. Toss together the lamb, watercress, mussels, radish and some of the foraged plants or herbs with the lemon juice and oil and divide between the plates. Serve at once.
Wine match: sauvignon blanc.
I’ve often wondered how restaurant chefs lay their hands on the wild plants and herbs they cook with. I wanted to find some coastal gems for this week’s lamb salad, so contacted Megan Corbett of Auckland’s Element Food Service. She works with food producers, including registered forager Nathan McKenzie of Samphire and Seaweed, to find unusual and special products for her chef customers. McKenzie, who collects flora to order from undisclosed coastal locations near Auckland, sourced the sea plants used in my salad.
If you’re exploring the coast this summer, keep your eyes peeled for some of these. The best places to look for edible coastal plants is around the high-tide mark of sheltered sandy inlets and harbours. Younger shoots are best. Take only as much as you need, leaving plenty so the fragile plants continue to grow and thrive.
LAMB CUTLETS WITH MIDDLE-EASTERN FLAVOURS
1 lamb rack
2 tbsp Middle Eastern dry-spice mix (za’atar or
2 flat bread
1 cup fresh coriander leaves
4 tbsp beetroot chutney
1 cup sheep feta
3 tbsp pomegranate seeds
Carve the rack into cutlets and sprinkle the za’atar or dukkah over each piece of meat. Fire up the barbecue and cook the lamb over gentle heat until brown and crisp on the outside but still juicy in the centre.
Arrange a platter with the flat bread, fresh coriander, beetroot chutney and feta.
When the lamb is cooked, add to the platter, and sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds to garnish.
Serve at once.
Serves 2 but can be scaled up.
Wine match: syrah.