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Festive Favourites Inspired by James Martin and our Love For Seafood

Following our exciting appearance on James Martin's Saturday Morning, I was compelled to tell you about some of our favourite fish dishes and festive drinks this time of the year.


First and foremost, let's chat about James Martin's gorgeous dish of grilled scallops with lemon and hazelnut butter with a Yuzu mayo and Orkney Akvavit dip. This was what James cooked on his Saturday Morning show while he talked to me about his love of Orkney and tried some of our spirits. Aquavit is the perfect accompaniment to fish and shellfish due to its Nordic caraway and fennel forward, with citrus too. Check out the recipe below. If you can get Orkney Scallops, it takes it to the next level. As James said on the show, they really are some of the best in the world.




You can watch the episode on catch up on ITVX. Series 6, Episode 43. View the show by clicking on this link: https://www.jamesmartinchef.co.uk/recipes/grilled-scallops-with-lemon-and-hazelnut-butter-and-yuzu-mayo-dip-with-crab-claws-and-crudites/


 


Orkney Akvavit and three star great taste award

What is Orkney Akvavit?


Aquavit (akvavit) plays a huge part in Nordic celebrations. The caraway seeds in Aquavit are known to aid digestion, with a very pleasant refreshing taste too - a mixture somewhere between dill and cardamom. Aquavit - meaning 'water of life' was enjoyed during and after a large, rich meal, which is why it is ultimately seen as a celebratory drink - lets be honest, how many of us don’t overindulge during the festivities or celebrations, right?


The unique, refreshing spirit we now know as Aquavit has come a long way since then though, with many families creating their own versions of Aquavit in Nordic countries, welcoming the addition of other delicious botanicals also. Our version of this clear distilled spirit contains a very bright and refreshing list of botanicals, with clean complexity. It took us a long time to create this ultimate version of Orcadian Aquavit, which really does speak for itself in awards, gaining a perfect three star great taste award twice (yes - the impossible, twice!), and an impressive title of ‘Worlds best Aquavit’ in the World Drinks Awards last year. Personally, I enjoy Orkney Akvavit with Artisan or Franklin and Sons tonics, particularly the rosemary and black olive Franklin and Sons. It really compliments and lifts the fresh dill-esque flavours. The citrusy spirit and briny olives are a perfect mix of sweet, marmalade citrus and silky, savoury and salty olives. Cardamom and vanilla in Orkney Akvavit create a delicate smoothness, often balancing and blending with quinine’s bitterness perfectly. This is definitely a good mix for those who love a dry martini with olives.




 

I have to talk about a delicious treat I tried locally recently. I was really excited to hear that Helgi's Bar and Restaurant (Kirkwall, Orkney) are using our spirits in their creations on their latest Christmas Menu. If you live, or are visiting Orkney, this is definitely one to try.


Take a look at their Aatta and beetroot cured salmon. The vibrant beetroot gives the salmon a beautifully festive hue, with hints or orange and both sweet and bitter notes from the juniper and earthy beetroot. The salmon was delicious served with grapefruit and cashew nuts on a bed of rocket.


Aatta and beetroot cured salmon, Helgi's
Aatta and beetroot cured salmon at Helgi's, Kirkwall

We don't have Helgi's yummy recipe, but you can certainly get creative with salmon and gin, especially with the use of juniper berries. We have been making salmon gravlax every winter since we started crafting spirits. We have previously used our Mikkelmas Gin and Orkney Akvavit for a festive treat - absolutely stunning!


Here's a version we like. Feel free to make adaptations; try more juniper, add some dill or fennel, and go wild with the citrus if you prefer a bit more fresh zestiness.


You'll need to get a decent sized food bag or some cling film and these ingredients:


  • salmon (boneless), between 600g-1kg is best. We normally make a double batch!

  • 400g Demerara sugar

  • 300g table salt

  • 400g fresh beetroot

  • black pepper

  • 1 lemon, zested

  • 2 oranges, zested

  • 2 tbsp juniper berries, crushed

  • 3 tbsp wholegrain mustard

  • 150ml Aatta Gin (or get creative with another from our range! Orkney Akvavit is a great one to try.)


Put the beetroot and sugar into a food processor. Blend together, then add all the other curing ingredients and blend again.

Pour half the mix out onto clingfilm or into a food bag. Add the fish and cover the top of the fish with the rest of the mix.

Cure for 1 day in the fridge, then take the salmon out, give it a good mix and pop back in the fridge for another day.

Make sure to rinse the cure off the salmon with cold water before serving. We love it with citrus fruit, fresh herbs, rocket and rye bread!


 

Christmas Old Tom in two colours

Christmas Old Tom Fizz

Enjoy this fun, festive spirit with a twist. Christmas Old Tom has everything I look for in a Christmassy drink. It's candied fruitiness, warmth from cinnamon and more mulled spices, delightful and soft nutmeg and bright punchy fresh citrus really makes it stand out. These festive flavours make it the perfect addition to Prosecco or Champagne while you enjoy your Christmas Dinner. It warms up your fizz with cinnamon and the bright zesty fruit gives you that zing that some Prosecco needs. I usually choose a slightly drier Prosecco so that the sweet candied flavour of Christmas Old Tom is balanced perfectly. Bliss!


 

Simple, yet utterly delicious.

Baked Rainbow Trout with Garlic Butter


This dish takes us back to our Nordic roots, keeping it very simple, and sometimes simple is just perfect for a cosy night in. In the recent years, Orkney rainbow trout has become available from one of the Northern Isles, Rousay. We are so lucky to have such a great offering of fish, shellfish and more in Orkney - but this business differs due to the use of fresh water. It's no surprise that the Orkney Islands also have some of the purest fresh water, due to the clean air - making for some very healthy fish. Orkney Trout is a lovely treat, recently tasted in The Lynnfield, a hotel based in Kirkwall, loved by all who were lucky enough to try this delicacy.


Trout is a vibrant, flavoursome fish, which offers lots of health benefits including; omega 3, vitamin B12, and lets not forget all the protein too.


This makes one piece of fish. You can serve with potatoes and green veggies, but really it's up to you what you have it with - the trout will be the star of the show (so make sure you get a really decent piece of fish). You will need:


  • A rainbow trout fillet

  • Seasoning -salt and pepper

  • butter or olive oil

  • fresh garlic

  • lemon

  • dill


Preheat your oven to 190 Degree Celsius

Cut some foil large enough to wrap around your trout

Ensure to pat the trout dry before laying inside the foil. Melt some butter or use oil and drizzle over the fish inside the foil. Add all your seasoning and herbs. You can get creative with your favourite herbs.

Close the foil and cook for around 12-14 minutes - this depends on the size of the fillet.

Turn your grill on and finish the trout under the grill with the foil open for a few minutes thereafter.

*Remember, fish that flakes easily when gently nudged with a fork in the centre should be cooked.


 

We hope you've enjoyed our little list of favourites this time of the year.


Merry Christmas!






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