This is the second post featuring Scott Roberts, creator of extremely delicious, beautiful food, and answer-er of my million questions. As previously mentioned, he was most recently Head Chef at Smoking Goat (London, England), and has also worked at Simon Rogan's Fera at Claridge's (London), Langdon Hall (Cambridge, Ontario), did pastry at Aria (Sydney), and worked stages at the three Michelin starred Saison and L2O.
"There's something elemental about cooking over fire. It's more difficult, true, but the process is deeply satisfying, and resulting flavour is unparalleled. It's a never-ending learning experience."
To continue our discussion about how allergies and dietary restrictions are handled in restaurants, we chatted about the difference between allergy and preference. It's important to discern whether you have an allergy, intolerance, or preference because of the following actions that will be taken in the kitchen. If it's stated to be an allergy, they'll stop and consider everything that may have come in contact with the specified allergens. All the way down to whether cross-contamination could have happened during prep. The difference between dietary preference and allergy can be confusing and even inconvenient to the kitchen so it's good to be clear and honest.
That also means explaining that it is an anaphylactic allergy if that's the case. In my experience there are plenty of people who throw around the word allergy instead of just saying they prefer to go without. Especially with the gluten-free and dairy-free diet trends, the word allergy can at times be used more loosely. This is kind of frustrating as a person with actual allergies because people may not take it as seriously or assume I'm talking about a stomach issue. But, more on that thought in a future editorial post ;)
Luckily, the following recipe is suitable for a number of different restrictions. It's free from dairy, nuts, peanuts, soy, sesame, wheat, oats, and mustard.
Whole Grilled Sea Bream, Green Mango and Pomelo Salad, Green Nam Jim
1 whole sea bream
a handful of cilantro
a handful of mint
1 green mango
1 shallot, sliced
about 3 green chili's
1/2 a garlic clove
several anchovies (cured, not fresh)
2 tsp maple sugar
juice of 2 limes
For the nam jim, roughly chop up the garlic, chili peppers, and anchovies, and grind up with a mortar and pestle along with the salt and maple sugar. Add the lime juice last so that you can control how wet it is. Also, the ingredients will be easier to grind up before the salt and sugar dissolve in the juice.
It should look like this
Pat the skin of the fish dry and then brush with vegetable oil.
Give it a good sprinkle of salt on each side
Toss it on a hot charcoal grill, close the lid, and let it cook through.
2 ways to remove the segments of a pomelo:
To assemble, lay the hot grilled fish on a large platter and pile on the cilantro, mint, mango, and shallots. Spoon the nam jim liberally over top of everything. If you're serving this to several people make sure you get a nice helping of fish with each scoop of salad.
The fish is mild flavored and tender, with crispy, charcoal-y skin. The green nam jim is much spicier than the red version Scott made in the last post. But it's cooled off with the fresh taste of mint and cilantro, and the sweetness of the mango.