I spied this recently at Casa Iberica and as is usually the case, it ended up in my shopping basket. Merken is a mix of dried and smoked Aji Cacho de Cabra chillies, toasted coriander seeds, cumin and salt and the resulting blend is a gorgeous russet colour.
As you can imagine it has a lovely smoked, spicy flavour - it is hot but not overwhelmingly so. The best way of describing it would be to say that it's almost like a combination of cayenne pepper and smoked paprika.
I've been using it quite a lot in the last few weeks as a replacement for ground pepper - it's excellent sprinkled over steaks just before you grill them.
The dish I've made for WHB is a variation of this recipe for Blue Eye Crudo by Andy Harris. I've altered the flavourings slightly and used Trevally
but I'd imagine you could substitute it for any firm white fleshed fish. The fish isn't cooked as such, it's cured in a mix of lemon and lime juice that has been spiced with Merken - red salad onions, parsley and mint further flavour the dish, giving it a lovely fresh feel. It's the perfect dish for summer.
1 fillet Trevally, skinned
1 lemon, juiced
1 lime, juiced
150mls olive oil
1 teaspoon Merken
parsley leaves, large handful, chopped
mint leaves, large handful chopped
1 small red salad onion, sliced finely
extra mint and parsley leaves, for serving
extra Merken, for serving
Cut the trevally into roughly half-inch thick slices - place the sliced fish in a non-reactive bowl and pour over the lemon and lime juice. Stir briefly and then cover and place in the fridge for half an hour.
Once the time has passed, remove from the fridge, give it another stir - the fish should be well on its way to looking white at this stage. Add the Merken, followed by the olive oil, stir again to mix it through and then place back in the fridge for another 15 minutes.
Finally, remove it from the fridge and add in the onion, mint and parsley - give it another stir, cover and place it back in the fridge to rest overnight.
When it comes to serving, I like to add in extra mint and parsley leaves - this just freshens the flavour. Turn it out into a serving bowl and finish with a extra sprinkling of Merken.
Serve it with good crusty bread and the jar of Merken at the side - so your guests can make it as spicy as they like.
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