Summer on a plate. That’s how I would describe this starter. It has so many different gifts to offer – sweet asaparagus, rich salmon, tangy parmesan and aoli that manages to be both creamy and piquant at the same time. As it’s little more than assembly job (apart from making the aoli which can be done in advance) it’s a simple and quick option for dinner parties.
Making aoli is simple and once you’ve mastered the basic sauce you can then add what you want to it. Even if it goes wrong, like mine did for this dish, it’s easily saved. To make aoli you put a very fresh egg yolk in a bowl and then drip in good quality oil whilst whisking continously. For one yolk I guess you’d add around 125ml oil but if you want the aoli thicker or thinner you adjust this accordingly. (Some oils may behave differently to others so I’m loathe to give exact measures – basically, when it’s the consistency you like it, stop adding oil).
To make this aoli I added the zest of half a lime and a crushed garlic clove to my egg yolk before I started whisking. As I said, I was a bit cavalier with this batch and it split. To deal with this I just put another egg yolk in another bowl and (slowly, this time) added my split mixture to it whilst whisking on high speed. Season generously and you’re done. It’s worth making your own aoli (or mayonnaise if you must call it that) because nothing you can but even comes close.
Parmesan Crisps are also extremely easy to make; to make each crisp place a baking ring or a biscuit cutter on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and sprinkle one tsp grated parmesan into it. Don’t press it down. Remove the baking ring/biscuit cutter and bake at gas mark 3 for 8 – 10 mins.
Once out of the oven they will cool quite rapidly. As soon as you can touch them roll them around something circular. I used an apple corer. You have to be quick. Once rolled leave them on the baking tray to cool. That’s it.
Once you’re ready for starters, steam the asparagus for 3 – 5 mins depending on thickness. It should be just tender, a sharp knife should only just go through it. Once that’s done it’s a case of layering the cooked asparagus with strips of smoked salmon, a generous spoonful of the aoli and topping it off with a parmesan crisp.
A recipe is uneccessary here as it’s obvious that it’s a case of a portion of asaparagus per person, a portion of smoked salmon per person, a tsp of parmesan per person and a good dollop of aoli each. 125 ml would do about 3 people.