When you use saltbush on plates and in glasses, you truly can taste the ocean.
Chef Jamie Simpson traveled to Australia to see saltbush growing where the grasses meet the sand. So, when he uses saltbush at the Culinary Vegetable Institute, he can still hear the waves on Phillips Island and feel the bracing winds. Fortunately, you don’t have to travel around the world to get the same benefits from saltbush that is regeneratively grown on our farm.
Here, Chef Jamie demonstrates three different ways to use this incredible edible leaf in delicious and visually appealing ways.
At the Bar: Saltbush Martini
When creating the ideal martini, it’s natural to reach for salty ingredients: olives, capers, pickles, vermouths, sardines, feta cheese, ham. Saltbush is a natural progression for this application, one that makes us wish that there were more cocktails that call for salt.
Fine Dining: Lovely Little Ceviche
Saltbush unsurprisingly lends itself well to foods from the ocean. Consider seaweeds, fish, shellfish, and mollusks. We paired this with a yogurt from cashew milk and smoked whitefish roe from Lake Erie. A few pieces of pickled fennel stem and frond.
Country Club Dining: The “Oyster”
As a chef, you’re always looking for dishes that will please and delight diners who have allergies or other dietary restrictions. When you use saltbush as a substitute for oyster, the result will be so amazing that non-allergy guests will be envious! We selected a few ingredients here that lend themselves well to the oyster presentation: aromatically, texturally, and aesthetically. The dish turned out beautifully, and we’d love to present this in the CVI dining room.
More About Saltbush
None of these dishes are a stretch of the imagination. In fact, they're sensible applications of this very versatile leaf. Also known as sea orach, raw saltbush leaves offer up wonderful flavor in salads. When lightly steamed, the leaves retain their crispness—and you can even dry and grind this amazing plant to use as a spice.
We hope you enjoyed this installment of plating food techniques!