Sea buckthorn is an ingredient that is being used more and more by modern chefs as they discover its unique flavour profile – part sour, part sweet and part tangy. As an ingredient it is both incredibly versatile and highly nutritious (it’s very high in vitamin C and dietary minerals), and can be used in sweet and savoury dishes, made into jams and conserves, or juiced to make a bracing drink. And as it grows wild throughout large parts of Northern Europe and Asia, it is readily available, especially to the chef who likes to indulge in a little foraging.
Chef Tom Kitchin is an advocate of wild Scottish sea buckthorn, which he adds to savoury dishes (often as a replacement for lemon or orange) such as fish, game or duck. According to him, the reason it goes so well with seafood is because you find the two close together in nature itself – the fish from the sea and the buckthorn growing on the shore line.
In Scandinavia and Northern Europe, where the fruit is a relatively common ingredient, the juice is sometimes used to marinate salmon to make an alternative version of gravadlax. It also works well infused into vinegar – perfect for drizzling over salads or baked root vegetables. At Aqua in London they give sea buckthorn a Japanese twist and their foraging menu includes sea buckthorn, salmon, sea vegetable and truffle maki.
Sea buckthorn also works brilliantly in sweet dishes, bringing a sharp tart and tangy taste to sorbets, ice creams, panna cottas and possets – and it also goes surprisingly well with white chocolate. Brett Graham of London’s The Ledbury serves a pudding of meringue, sea buckthorn and mandarin, whilst fellow chef Nathan Outlaw has a similar recipe using sea buckthorn curd, meringue, yoghurt sorbet and wholemeal shortbread. At The Harwood Arms they serve a sea buckthorn dip alongside canapé-size sugar and cinnamon doughnuts.
When juiced, the sea buckthorn makes for a wonderfully interesting drink – Scottish drinks producers Cuddybridge blend it with apple juice to create a drink with a taste reminiscent of bitter-sweet pomegranate with notes of mango and orange.
The juice also makes for a great addition to cocktails – try it with either sparkling cider or maybe even Champagne for an easy aperitif. Or for something more complex, try a take on the classic whisky sour – a wild whisky sour, made with Scotch whisky, Scottish sea buckthorn and birch sap. The perfect drink to finish off with after a hard day’s foraging.
Pictured: Tom Kitchin’s sea buckthorn and yoghurt panna cotta
Content: courtesy of Flavour Feed