HAIRY BITTERCRESS – Cardamine hirsuta is an autumn germinating plant and as a result the leaves and flowers are generally available all winter providing a hot peppery cress flavour. Traditionally the leaves have been cooked like spinach, but I find they taste a deep rich cress flavour. A Goddess to the forager, a curse to the gardner. How strange to dig up a friendly invasive who grows in huge abundance for you, only to be weeded out, discarded and replaced with a less nutrient dense and bland tasting ‘monoculture’ vegetable. Go figure that one.
- 1 red pepper (baked with skin removed)
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 red onion (chopped finely)
- 5 garlic cloves (roughly chopped)
- 1 red chilli (finely chopped)
- 3 dry birdeye chillies (finely chopped)
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 lemon (juiced)
- 40g raw hairy bittercress (chopped)
- pinch of salt
- Lightly toast the cumin, caraway and coriander seeds in a frying pan until the seeds begin to pop, then immediately remove them from the heat and put into a pestle and mortar. Grind into a powder.
- Fry the red onion in butter until semi-translucent along with the chillies, then add the chopped garlic. Cook until the onion and garlic are nice and soft, then remove from heat.
- Put the onion, chilli and garlic mix into a bowl along with all the other ingredients, and using a hand blender, blitz to a chunky/smooth texture.
Smear lashings of this wild Harissa recipe over plump white fish fillets. Place in a bowl, cover with cling film and put in the fridge. Allow to marinate for at minimum 2 hours and preferably 4 hours. Heat some butter/oil in a frying pan, and fry each fillet for about 2 mins each side, depending on the size of the fillets.