Cassava chips with smoked salmon, sweet chilli sauce & crème fraîche

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Preparation info

  • For

    ⅓ cup

    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

Fusion: A Culinary Journey

Fusion

By Peter Gordon

Published 2010

  • About

Not long after we opened The Providores restaurant in 2001, we were approached by a renowned Scottish whisky company to launch their new creation - a whisky matured in Scotland in Cuban rum casks. The whisky is truly wonderful: mellow, rich, spicy and flavoursome. However, what I needed to do was to come up with some canapé ideas that would show a fusion of the two cultures. This is when I created this canapé, uniting famous cold-smoked Scottish salmon with cassava chips. Cassava, also known as yuca, tapioca or manioc, is a really important source of carbohydrate for many people around the world. In Cuba, it’s called yuca which, incidentally, is also the term given to Cuban yuppies living in Florida - Young Upwardly-mobile Cuban Americans. It originates in South America, but is mainly grown these days in Africa, as well as China and South-East Asia. Anyway, this really simple canapé works so well because the cassava chips are crisp and moist if cooked properly, the salmon is rich and the crème fraîche works as a foil for the chilli sauce. When preparing cassava it’s important that you discard any discoloured pieces, and any pieces that have a slightly soapy smell to them. When boiling it make sure you don’t cover the pot with a lid, but cook it to the point where it looks slightly overcooked - you may need to pull pieces out of the boiling water as they’re ready. Undercooked cassava will not go flaky when deep-fried - rather it will be dry and chewy.

Ingredients

  • 1 cassava root - around 25-30-cm long
  • 80 g caster sugar
  • 50 ml white wine vinegar, rice vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 2 moderately hot red chillies, stem removed, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 thumb of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • 200 g smoked salmon, thinly sliced
  • 100 g crème fraîche

Method

Peel the cassava. The easiest way is to cut the ends off and discard them, then cut it into three pieces of even length. Using a small sharp knife peel the skin off - although a good potato peeler will work with a bit of effort. The skin is very woody and covered with a thin layer of wax which helps preserve it when transporting by ship. Once you’ve peeled all three pieces, cut them lengthways roughly into quarters and place in a large pot covered generously with cold water and add a Tablespoon of salt. Bring to the boil then cook until a sharp knife goes through the flesh reasonably easily. The different pieces will likely be ready at differing times, so you can remove them with a pair of tongs or a slotted spoon as they’re done. Place on a tray to cool down - don’t put them under running water - they’ll be quite tender.

Once they’re cooled enough to handle, pull the woody vein out from the centre and cut each piece lengthways in half to give you 24 wedge-shaped chips.

While the cassava is cooking, bring the sugar and vinegar to the boil and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chillies, garlic and ginger and rapidly simmer until the sauce thickens. Take from the heat and leave to cool. This will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks if covered.

Heat 5 cm of vegetable oil to 180°C. Add 6-8 cassava chips to the hot oil and fry until golden and crispy, gently moving them around from time to time, then drain and place on kitchen paper while you cook the rest.

Lay the sliced salmon on a board and cut into strips - you’ll need 24. Drizzle a little of the chilli sauce onto each one and as the cassava chips are cooked, wrap them tightly in the salmon.

To Serve

Stack the salmon-wrapped chips on top of each other and serve with a bowl of crème fraîche that you’ve stirred some of the chilli sauce into.