Well, since I did promise a proper IMBB entry, I guess I'll have to deliver. This entry very nearly didn't materialise, due to the absence of the key ingredient, the eggs.
I decided that instead of working with boring ol' bird eggs, which are not only quotidian and unpretentious, but also rather finicky ingredients, I'd try something a little more exotic. And since in cuisine, "exotic" seems to mean "Oriental", I decided I'd go East with this particular IMBB.
Now, normally I'm not a fan of Japanese food, because I have a problem with eating my food raw. However, I really like this little morsel involving salmon roe, or ikura. Fishy though it may be (and I'm not a great fan of fish either), I absolutely love the sensual, almost carnal explosion of that most primal of colours: red.
Unfortunately, unless you happen to own a fish farm stocked with breeding salmon, ikura isn't something you can grab off the shelf. Still, it's not a prohibitively unavailable ingredient, and once you've obtained it then the rest of this recipe is rather simple, which is always a plus. Surprisingly, it comes from Emmanuel Stroobant, whose cookbook hasn't been good for much else.
Marinated Salmon Roe with Watermelon Ice Cubes is an excellent amuse-bouche to be served before the meal proper, and also does well as an intermezzo to cleanse the palate. It's very refreshing, and the tart roe is offset by the sweet and chilled watermelon, wonderfully cooling in the recent heatwave we've been experiencing.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
400g Watermelon, rind removed, flesh cut into 1-cm cubes
2 Tbsp Coriander leaves, chopped
1 Tbsp Mirin
1/2 Tbsp Teriyaki sauce
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
200g Salmon roe (Ikura)
Freshly cracked black pepper
Mirin and Teriyaki sauce can be bought at most supermarkets, while salmon roe can usually only be found at specialised Japanese supermarkets, such as Isetan. I didn't manage to get any coriander, but any strong herb will do, such as parsley or basil.
Place the diced watermelon in a shot glass, tealight holder, martini glass or whatever stylish container you can find, and freeze for an hour or two. Do not freeze it for too long, as they can cause discomfort to the teeth if they are too cold.
Marinate the salmon roe with the coriander leaves, mirin, teriyaki sauce and lemon juice and keep refrigerated.
When ready to serve, taste the dressing and correct accordingly. There should be some tartness from the roe and the teriyaki sauce, but enough sweetness from the mirin as well.
Remove your watermelon cubes from the freezer, top with salmon roe and pour the dressing over. Sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper and garnish with a few strands of chives.