Salmon with Violets
I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2, 1
The beautiful colors, presentation, and wonderful light flavors of this dish typify the sophistication of Elizabethan cuisine. Many types of edible flowers were used in cooking, both for their visual appeal and taste. Flowers were not set out onto the table in vases, but rather the dinner platters and the food itself was considered the decoration. Cookbooks of the time even list instructions on salads “for shewe only” with details on creating large elaborate “flowers” made of various cut vegetables and herbs.
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
1 large Vidalia onion, sliced paper-thin
1 salmon fillet, cut into 4 strips (about 12 ounces)
3/4 cup edible violets
Place the vinegar, sugar, and lemon juice in a small bowl and slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss the onion in the vinaigrette and set aside.
Preheat the grill. Cook the salmon strips for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until firm.
Place a mound of the onion in the center of each plate and top with a piece of salmon. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the salmon and arrange the violets on the salmon and around the plate.
Original recipe: An other [Sallets for fish days]
Salmon cut long waies with slices of onyons upon it layd and upon that to cast Violets, Oyle and Vineger.
The Good Husewifes Jewell, 1587
Taken with permission from Shakespeare’s Kitchen: Renaissance Recipes for the Contemporary Cook by Francine Segan.