Raw power: Mark Hix gets fresh for summer

When fresh ingredients have this much flavour, there's no need even to cook them

Saturday 02 May 2009 00:00
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As the weather finally starts to become warmer, slaving over a hot stove can lose its appeal – and this is the time of year when raw food really comes into its own. You don't need actually to cook food to create interesting and tasty dishes; just look at the Japanese, who seem to have mastered the art pretty well. Another thing to bear in mind more generally is that when you are using top-notch uncooked ingredients, you need do very little to them to enjoy their full flavour. Raw food is also richer in proteins and vitamins than cooked food, so you win both ways.

Shaved asparagus and goat's cheese salad

Serves 4

Raw asparagus might seem a little odd, but it's actually delicious, and offers a vastly different eating experience to the cooked variety.

A couple of handfuls of small salad leaves
12 or so stems of thick asparagus, woody stalks trimmed
120-150g soft goat's cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing

The juice of 1 lemon
3-4tbsp extra-virgin rapeseed oil

With a sharp mandolin or with a very sharp knife, slice the asparagus as thinly as possible on the angle and place in a bowl. Mix all of the ingredients for the dressing, season well and mix with the asparagus and leave for 10 minutes.

Toss the asparagus with the leaves and arrange on plates. Crumble the goat's cheese over the salad and serve immediately.

Pineapple with Sichuan peppercorn sorbet

Serves 4

Pineapple is a great after-dinner fruit because it helps to digest your food. This is a kind of sorbet granita which can be made without an ice-cream maker, and Sichuan peppercorns have a lovely tingling quality, which adds a nice twist.

1 large sweet pineapple
1tsp Sichuan peppercorns, lightly crushed

Top and tail the pineapple (I've left mine with the skin on here, but peel it if you wish). Cut four slices from the pineapple then peel, chop and blend the rest with the Sichuan peppercorns. Transfer to a plastic or non-reactive container and place in the freezer. Leave in the freezer for 4-6 hours, stirring every so often until frozen. Quarter each pineapple slice and arrange on plates with the sorbet.

Sashimi salad

Serves 4

I've eaten salads such as this at London's Nobu restaurant and it's essential to use really fresh fish. Ponzu is a kind of ready-made citrus dressing that can be bought from Japanese supermarkets as well as good delis and supermarkets.

150-200g very fresh white fish such as bass, bream, halibut etc
A small handful of small tasty salad leaves and herbs such as coriander, mizuna, celery, silver sorrel, rocket etc
1 medium carrot, peeled and shredded into matchstick-sized pieces
6-8 mangetout, trimmed and shredded
4-5cm piece of mooli, peeled and shredded into matchstick-sized pieces
4 spring onions, finely shredded on the angle
50-60g inoki mushrooms, trimmed
10g black fungus, soaked in cold water for a couple of hours
120-150ml Ponzu

Drain the black fungus and shred as finely as possible; place in a bowl with the inoki mushrooms and Ponzu and leave for about 30 minutes.

Slice the fish with a sharp knife as thinly as possible and lay out on a tray. Toss the mushrooms with the salad leaves, shredded vegetables and spring onions, reserving a couple of spoonfuls of the liquid and season.

Spoon the reserved Ponzu over the fish. Arrange the salad on plates with the slices of fish and spoon over any excess Ponzu.

Beef with white radish and pomegranate molasses

Serves 4

Eating raw beef is an essential part of many cuisines around the world – we've all heard about carpaccio and steak tartare, and the Japanese specialise in many dishes with either raw or seared beef such as tataki.

You need to use very fresh beef for this recipe, and you can use fillet or sirloin.

Pomegranate molasses is a thick sweet and sour syrup used in many middle Eastern recipes; you can buy it from Turkish or Middle Eastern shops and good delis.

400g raw fillet or sirloin, trimmed of fat and sinew
A 12cm-piece of mooli (white radish or daikon), peeled
2-3tbsp pomegranate molasses

With a sharp knife, cut the beef into thin slices (place it in the freezer half an hour before to ease slicing); arrange on serving plates. Cut the mooli into matchstick-sized pieces, wash and dry on kitchen paper. Spoon the pomegranate molasses over the beef and scatter over the mooli.

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