About the author:
I am very passionate about cooking and the service industry. Fulfillment comes from witnessing my own growth. I am Irish, currently cooking in Austria. Previously I have worked in Nordic restaurants in Denmark and Sweden after training and working in Ireland.
Parsley & Coriander
Yes I too would agree that a title such as parsley and coriander in this day and age of cooking isn’t exactly an eye catcher. Big eye catching titles with foods such as seaweed, sourdough and sea buckthorn are sure to catch the reader’s attention more than the most basic herbs we are all accustomed to (and for the most part well over) with but bear with me.
Consider how much curly parsley "umbrella’s" you have seen served with each piece of char-grilled sirloin steak or sitting directly on top of the confit cherry tomatoes on the vine. Likewise, the massive amount of fresh coriander leaves you are provided with when you order your falafel or kebab from the takeaway down the street. If you were to choose to eat the coriander at any stage of the meal, may well overtake even the taste of the pickled vegetables.
I myself, at the great age of nineteen, while standing in the first kitchen I worked in, could not tell the difference between these two now all too familiar herbs. This is a short little insight into how little I knew about food and the kitchen life, and it’s not to give bragging rights as to how far I have come because I too have a long road ahead and a prosperous one at that. This is an insight for those of you who feel that little bit of a withdrawal from cooking, maybe it’s on your mind that you don’t want to continue professionally or start for that matter.
Maybe due to Covid-19 and the lockdown, your career has been knocked back when were just starting to learn something. Maybe there is a fear setting in as you must look for a new job or maybe you’re well ahead in your career and this story is just a bit of a laugh for you.
Nonetheless it is a story of hope and for you to be hopeful and strong in your decision to become a Chef and to continue the journey, be it at beginning or well progressed and to fall in love with food as a I did.
So, there I was, being sent to the downstairs walk-in fridge, again, to fetch some herbs for garnishing the dishes for tonight’s menu. My Sous Chef had sent me down specifically for flat leaf parsley. It was my second week working in the kitchen, and I’m stood in the middle of the vegetable walk-in. The door is closed, and I am surrounded by greens. I didn’t know what any of this food was, and I’m really not exaggerating. The closest thing to green I saw before this were the peas in the shepherd’s pie.
This was a big four-star hotel kitchen, so the walk-in was also quite large, meaning it also had a large fan blowing cold air and as you know, nothing really smells like anything in these fridges. Only when food is up to a good temperature, the aroma in food begins to flourish. I’m in sticking my nose into each of the herbs, some just for the gander, and I’m deciding to narrow it down to the parsley and coriander battle once again.
I bite the bullet and choose both. This was not my first time going with this method. When I arrive back up with a bunch of each herb (again!), Chef more or less loses it as he just can’t figure out how I cannot seem to tell which one is which.
The herbs are again being put under my non-working nose and Chef is just saying “Can you still not smell it man? Like seriously? Nothing?”
I could not see the difference in the herbs that day or for some time after that. Nor did I know what you should do with them or could do with them for that matter.
It took some time for my senses to awaken but fast forward a few years of grafting, staying focused and constantly re-evaluating my situation, I took a step back one service and just realised how far I had come.
Placing super finely sliced pickled parsley stems on an oyster dish in a One-star Michelin in Denmark and finishing the dish with fermented parsley juice. That for me was a moment of achievement, a moment I could say well done to myself. Well done for sticking with it, for how far I had come. Not only knowing a flat leaf parsley from a coriander leaf but using the herb with such Nordic techniques, in a kitchen of very meticulous standards and then serving the dish personally to the guests explaining the variants.
From a fellow Chef to fellow companions:
Stay the journey, choose the path you wish to travel and feel each and every feeling of excitement on the way.
Keep on top of yourself whilst having compassion for yourself.
Re-evaluate each time you feel a little boredom. Maybe it’s a change of vegetable on a dish or a change of menu concept that’s needed but I promise the kitchen life, when balanced, won’t let you down!
Recipe dish ;
Confit potato purée, pickled and fermented parsley stems, parsley oil and whey butter foam.
As a rule of thumb in lacto fermentation between 2-3% salt is the most appropriate salt percentage. In order to lacto ferment you can use a dry salt method or a salt brine method. Most of the time I prefer to dry salt however in some cases the brine solution works better.
Parsley stems is one of these cases.
Fermented parsley stem ;
Take the washed parsley and remove the leaves, spin dry them. Store the leaves in a dry container and keep for the parsley oil.
Place the stems in a sterile glass jar, fitted with the correct airlock rubber seal and lid.
Make a 2% salt brine solution using filtered water and a hand blender the break up the salt and dissolve it.
Example 1000g of filtered water equals 20g of salt.
Pour the brine solution over the parsley stems, make sure the stems are submerged by the liquid. If some begin to float use a sterile weight to keep them down. Be sure to leave 1/2 an inch between the tip of the jar and the brine.
Place the jar in a warm area for a minimum of 7 days.
Keep an eye on the fermentation process, weather and room temperature depending, it may take a few days more to finish. Sometimes as far as 14 days in winter.
Once you can actively taste a slightly sourness with a higher salinity then normal the stems they are ready. They will keep for 2-3 months in a refrigerator in the brine solution.
Pickled parsley stems ;
Pickle brine recipe ;
1000g apple cider vinegar
500g filtered water
350g organic refined sugar.
Using the same method wash and dry the parsley and remove the fresh parsley leaves keeping the stems. Make a pickle brine by bringing the water to a boil, add the sugar and whisk to dissolve, once dissolved remove from the heat and add the cold apple cider vinegar.
While waiting for the water to boil, place the stems in a sterile glass jar fitted with the correct airlock rubber seal and lid.
Once the pickle is made and has cooled to room temperature you can pour it over the stems in the jar.
Seal the jar and place in a refrigerator. The stems will be pickled within 12 hours. They will last for 12 months while refrigerated.
Parsley oil ;
Taking all the fresh parsley leaves you have washed, dried and retained, use a scale to weigh them. Using the ration 1:2, 1 part parsley leaves to 2 parts oil. I like to use light rapeseed oil, whatever regular cooking oil your kitchen has is fine once it’s neutral.
Place the parsley leaves and oil in a thermo mix. Set the heat to 60d and blend at speed 6 for 6 minutes. If you need to do this more than once as the amount may not fit, do not differ from the ratio, split the amount up correctly.
Place the mix in a cold bowl with ice underneath and leave cool in the refrigerator for a minimum of two hours to let the flavor infuse, overnight is also fine once it is covered correctly. Strain the oil through a very fine sieve or fishnet, gently press the oil through if needed. Retain the pulp and store the oil in a refrigerator.
The pulp that remains can be used several ways. At the moment I am using it to flavour the fried snails on the menu where I work.
It can be stored in a closed container for up to a week.
Confit potato purée ;
Salted clarified butter, whey removed and retained
200g cold cream
Wash and peel the potatoes, using a white variety is best, examples Orla or Cultra,.
Once peeled cut into medium size pieces, try to keep the size the same as much as possible.
Taking your clarified butter pour it over the potatoes to cover them. The amount will depend on the steel container you are using to bake with. Leave a little room in between the potatoes but not much and place a small bunch of lemon thyme with two cloves of crushed garlic into the butter.
When clarifying the butter at a low temperature do not boil, once the butter cools slightly the whey will form on the top. Using a ladle skim off the whey, much like skimming a stock. Retain this whey for the sauce, you will need at least 200g of whey.
Place to potatoes in the oven, covered, at 160c for 45min. Check to see if they are cooked through, you want it to be over fondant but not falling apart.
Strain the butter well and remove the herbs.
Keep the potatoes warm and place in the thermo mix.
Using the strained butter, emulsify the potatoes at speed 8. Carefully adding the butter as if making a mayonnaise, do not use all the butter only enough to create an emulsion, this may take 2-3 minutes.
Once the potatoes are emulsified add the cold cream to bring it together. Season with salt and pass through a tamis. Keep warm.
Butter whey sauce ;
The whey removed from clarifying your butter is the sauce, you just need a hand blender to foam it. Bring the whey to room temperature when needed and using the blender foam the whey by placing the blender just under the surface of the liquid. You may need to slightly angle the liquid towards you so the foam rises at the top. Use small pots for this method.
Slice the pickled and fermented parsley stems thinly, mix together as an equal ratio and mix with the parsley oil, just enough to combine. Leaving at room temperature.
Place the hot potato purée into a re-usable piping bag without a nozzle.
Taking a warm bowl place the hot potato purée on the bottom from the piping bag.
Place the parsley stem and oil mix on top of the potato purée, be generous and to a ratio you feel is necessary.
Take the parsley oil you have not mixed and spoon on a little more so a ring forms on the sides of the bowl.
Gently blend the room temperature whey for a foam and place on top of the other ingredients to cover the dish. Note ; The whey will not foam if it is too warm or too cold.