Posted on Saturday, 2nd May 2009
On Wednesday, I was invited to a an event to mark the first pea shoots from Mullens Farm for the season at Hix Oyster & Chop House. The event was hosted by the man himself, Mark Hix, and the order of the day were a number of savoury courses, all containing pea shoots. Here is what we ate and all were delicious: chilled pea shoot and spring leek soup; pea shoot, ham hock and asparagus salad; and sea trout poached in oil with wilted pea shoots, wild garlic and cucumber. There was also a dessert of floating islands with lemon sauce.
Mark was the consummate host, and before long we had moved onto cheeses, coffees, his own ‘Hix Oyster Ale’ and Shipwreck brandy.
But oh, there was more. Mark came up with the idea that we should make pea shoot cocktails. So around the dining table we sat, playing with concepts and names. In a moment of ‘drunken’ inspiration, (pure genius I say) we came up with a pea-tini (clever hey?), peashooters (even cleverer), and peashoot pimms (oh so summery).
Refreshing and light, the cocktails were great. Who knew? Here I was at a pea shoot lunch, thinking I was only going to be eating the stuff, only to find we would be drinking it too. Mark decided to put it them on the bar menu that night, and he might do so again, so if you happen to be in the neighbourhood, pop along to Hix Oyster & Chop House to see if you might be able to try some too.
Finally, here is the sea trout recipe from our lunch if you fancy making it at home.
Olive oil poached sea trout with peashoots, cucumber and wild garlic
4 portions of sea trout weighing about 180-200g, boned and scaled
200g pea shoots
50g wild garlic
For the oil infusion
200-250ml rapeseed oil or enough to cover
10 black peppercorns
1tsp fennel seeds
A couple of sprigs of thyme
Put all the ingredients for the oil infusion into a wide saucepan large enough to fit the trout fillets in. Add a couple of teaspoons of salt and heat up to about 60C, then turn off the heat and leave to infuse for about half an hour.
Place the sea trout into the infused oil and heat it back up. Then turn the heat off and leave the fish in for a couple of minutes; remove with a slotted spoon. Cooking times will vary depending on the thickness of the fish but it’s important to keep it pink.
Melt the butter in a frying pan until it foams, then add the cucumber, season; cook on a medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring every so often, then remove from pan. Add another knob of butter and stir in the peashoots and wild garlic; remove from the heat and season.
To serve arrange the wilted greens in the centre of serving plates. Place the sea trout on top and scatter the cucumber around. You can spoon a little infused oil around as well if you wish.
Pea shoots are in season from April to October and contain seven times more vitamin C1 than blueberries, and four times more vitamin A2 than tomatoes. They are available from Marks & Spencer and Sainbury’s. To find out more about pea shoots go to http://www.peashoots.com/
Hix Oyster & Chop House at:
36-37 Greenhill Rents,
London EC1M 6BN
Tel: +44 (0)20 7017 1930