Cooking Class: In a pretty pickle

Too hot in the kitchen but you still need to cook? Try another technique.

June 26, 2013 15:27
3 minute read.
Meat Tartar with Pickled Watermelon

Meat Tartar with Pickled Watermelon. (photo credit: Boaz Lavi)

Opened by chef Orel Kimchi and restaurateur Amir Turgeman, Popina offers a different approach. Unlike most restaurants, here the menu is not divided into starters, mains and desserts, but by the cooking techniques – pickling, steaming, baking, roasting and slow-cooking. In each category, one can find a cocktail, starter, main and dessert. The precise preparation and attention to detail are inspiring.

As the days grow hotter, chef Orel Kimhim thinks that pickling can replace cooking, thus keeping the kitchen not too hot to enter. Here are some of his novel ideas.

Serves 8 

Called Intias in Israel, this fish lends itself very well to pickling, especially when coupled with sour cream and olives. It is advised to make a large amount and keep refrigerated up to 2 weeks.

✔ 400 gr. fillet of Lumberjack (use a relatively fatty fish) 
✔ 500 gr. kosher salt 
✔ 400 gr. sugar 
✔ ½ cup lemon juice 
✔ Zest of 2 lemons
 ✔ Zest of 2 oranges 
✔ Leaves of 4 sprigs thyme 

For garnish: 
✔ 100 ml. sour cream 
✔ 2 tsp. chopped black Thasus olives 
✔ 2 radishes, thinly sliced 
✔ 2 Tbsp. olive oil 

Mix together salt, lemon juice, 2 zests, sugar and thyme. Place fish in the marinade. Leave at room temperature for 2 hours.

Remove fish from marinade, rinse well and place in an air-tight container until ready to serve.

Arrange fish fillets on a plate, sprinkle with olives, radishes and sour cream. Drizzle olive oil, season with black pepper and serve.

Serving suggestion: Serve this fish with boiled potatoes and a little horseradish.

Serves 4 

✔ 300 gr. fillet of fish, cubed 
✔ 1 nectarine, cubed 
✔ 1 tsp. chopped shallots 
✔ 1 Tbsp. chopped chives 
✔ 4 Tbsp. olive oil 
✔ 2 Tbsp. lemon juice 
✔ Salt and pepper 
✔ Yogurt (optional) 

Mix together fish cubes, nectarine cubes and chopped shallots. Add chives, olive oil, lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix well and adjust seasoning if necessary.

To serve: Spread some yogurt on a plate June 27, 2013 9 weekend and place a small heap of the fish tartar in the middle.


For the watermelon: 
✔ 1 kg. watermelon with rind 
✔ Salt (1 Tbsp. for each cup of water, amount depending on the size of the jar) 
✔ 1 hot chili 
✔ 2 bay leaves 
✔ 4 seeds allspice 
✔ 1 tsp. mustard seeds 

For the tartare (4 servings) 
✔ 300 gr. fillet of beef, cubed (or other lean tender cuts) 
✔2 tsp. chopped shallots
✔ 2 Tbsp. chopped chives 
✔ 2 Tbsp. chopped pickled watermelon 
✔ 2 flat tsp. mustard 
✔ Salt and pepper 
✔ 4 Tbsp. olive oil 
✔ 4 egg yolks 

To pickle the watermelon: Place pieces of watermelon with rind in a jar. Add the rest of the ingredients, except salt. Add enough warm water to cover. Mix 1 Tbsp. salt for each cup of water. Leave at room temperature about 2 weeks, until ready.

To prepare tartare: Mix together all the ingredients except the egg yolks. Taste and adjust seasoning.

To serve: Divide the beef tartare among 4 plates. Using a ring, arrange the tartare in the middle of each plate. If you do not have a ring, heap the tartare in the middle of the plate and flatten the top. Gently place an egg yolk on top of each serving. Serve with toasted bread on the side.

Makes 4 

✔ 200 gr. fillet of lamb, all fat removed, divided into 4 steaks 
✔ ½ tsp. truffle paste mixed with 4 Tbsp. olive oil 
✔ 2 Tbsp. lemon juice 
✔ 2 Tbsp fresh green peas, chopped 
✔ Coarse salt 
✔ Freshly ground black pepper 
✔ 4 confit artichokes in olive oil (canned) 

Place meat between 2 layers of parchment paper and, using a wooden rolling pin or mallet, flatten the meat until very thin. Place the carpaccio on 4 plates.

Drizzle 1 Tbsp. of the truffle oil and ½ Tbsp. lemon juice on each portion. Sprinkle salt and pepper and ½ Tbsp. chopped fresh green peas on each plate.

Chop the artichokes and divide between the plates.

Serve with freshly baked bread. 

Recipes and photos courtesy of Popina Restaurant, 2 Ahad Ha’am Neveh Tzedek, Tel Aviv (03) 575-7477.

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