Baking in salt-crust is a technique usually applied to fish, meat, potatoes, beets and sometimes celery roots. In fact, a lot more vegetables can be covered in coarse sea salt and baked in the oven, where the salt-crust not only seasons the vegetable, but also keeps all the flavors inside. This time I experimented with salt-baked kohlrabi, which developed into a magnificent result.
During the baking process, the kohlrabi shrank and turned yellowish, while its flavor intensified and its texture became smooth and kind of creamy. After removing the salt-crust, the kohlrabi was very easy to peel, although I’d advise not to peel off too much, because the best parts are those just beneath the skin.
Next to the baked kohlrabi I prepared two different kohlrabi purees. For the green puree I used all the skins, stalks and leaves, cooked and blanched them respectively, drained them thoroughly and blended them with some walnut oil into a smooth puree. For the white puree I grated a peeled kohlrabi and cooked it in its own liquid with only a little amount of additional water. This way I was able to intensify the flavor of the kohlrabi puree. As crispy elements I used an idea seen in Nils Henkel‘s cookbook. I briefly blanched some onion wedges and warmed them before plating in some butter. As a slightly spicy component I mixed peanut butter with malt extract and seasoned it with soy sauce. This Asian-flavored peanut paste worked great both with the kohlrabi as well as with the roasted salmon. I even used the cooking liquids from both kohlrabi purees, which I infused with juniper berries and gin, strained, and mixed with lecithin into an airy foam. Finally, I garnished the plate with the crispy skin of the salmon.
- 700 g salmon fillet (with skin)
- 2 small kohlrabi (with greens)
- 400 g coarse sea salt
- 1-2 egg whites
- 2 tbsp walnut oil
- 1 tsp juniper berries
- 2 cl gin
- 1 tsp lecithin
- 1 small onion
- 1 tsp peanut butter
- 1 tsp malt extract
- few drops soy sauce
- few drops chili oil
- freshly ground black pepper
- lemon olive oil
For the baked kohlrabi
Wash the smaller kohlrabi. Trim off the stalks and leaves and reserve. Peel the kohlrabi and reserve the skin. Mix the sea salt with the egg whites. Cover a grid with parchment and add a bed of salt on it. Put the kohlrabi on top and cover with the remaining salt. Bake in a 200°C / 390F hot oven for about 1 hour. Chill to room temperature and brake open the salt crust. Remove the kohlrabi from the salt, scrape of any salt crystals and cut the kohlrabi into 1cm cubes.
For the green kohlrabi puree
Wash the other kohlrabi. Trim off the stalks and leaves and reserve. Peel the kohlrabi and reserve the skin. Chop the reserved kohlrabi skins and stalks very finely and cook in about 300ml salted water until they are very soft and tender. Chop the leaves and add to the kohlrabi trimmings. Cook for about 3 minutes, then drain and reserve the cooking liquid. Immediately submerge the greens in ice water. Drain well. Blend the greens with 2 tbsp walnut oil into a fine puree. Add as much cold cooking liquid as required to get a smooth puree as result. Season with salt and 1-2 drops of chili oil. Strain through a fine sieve and reserve.
For the white kohlrabi puree
Grate the peeled raw kohlrabi and reserve its liquid. Add the grated kohlrabi and its liquid to a small pan and season with 2 pinches of salt. Leave for a few minutes so the salt can drain water from the kohlrabi. Add as much water to barely cover the kohlrabi and cook covered over low heat until the kohlrabi is very tender. Drain and reserve the cooking liquid. Gently squeeze out the liquid from the cooked kohlrabi. Blend the kohlrabi with 1-1.5 tsp butter into a fine puree, meanwhile adding as much cooking liquid as required to form a smooth texture. Season with salt and 1-2 drops of chili oil. Strain through a fine sieve and reserve.
For the juniper foam
Merge the remaining kohlrabi cooking liquids and measure about 200ml. Crush the juniper berries and add with the kohlrabi liquid and 2cl gin to a pot. Warm over low heat and allow to infuse for about 30 minutes. Drain and blend with the lecithin.
For the onion petals
Peel the onion, cut into quarters and disassemble it to petals. Blanch the petals in boiling salted water for 5 seconds, immediately chill in ice water and drain well.
For the peanut cream
Mix the peanut butter with the malt extract and some water to get a creamy result. Season with a few drops of soy sauce.
For the salmon
Wash the salmon under cold running water and tap dry with kitchen paper. Using a sharp knife remove the skin in one piece. Also make sure to trim off any grey fish meat. Scrape off all fish meat from the skins and cut the skin into 4 pieces. Roast in 1tbsp lemon olive oil constantly pressing down on the skins with a flat kitchen tool so they won't roll up. Season with salt and drain on kitchen paper.
Remove any bones from the salmon and cut into 4 portions. Immediately before roasting the fish, tap the portions dry on kitchen paper. Heat 1-2 tbsp lemon olive oil in a hot pan and roast the salmon on all sides. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the salmon to a 60°C / 140 F hot oven for a few minutes, so it will cook through but still remain tender and juicy.
Warm the purees separately over low heat.
Warm the kohlrabi cubes and onion petals in salted butter.
Add a salmon on each warm plate. Add 3-3 tsp white and green kohlrabi purees and a small drop of peanut cream. Place some kohlrabi cubes and onion petals next to the puree. Decorate with crispy salmon skins and juniper foam.