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The Great Salt

Great Salt Menu

view a pdf of the menu here

Over a period of 9 months Fairland Collective worked with the Lion Salt Works to explore how the salt industry has shaped both our culinary traditions and the local mid-Cheshire landscape.  Having hosted a series of workshops with Lion Salt Works volunteers and the public, Fairland Collective developed The Great Salt, a delicious meal revealing some of the rich histories of the Cheshire salt industry and its local resonance. Using the recipes listed below, a table top landscape of salt shakers, readings on salt tourism and halophytes, and music from the Chester folk band The Time Bandits, Fairland Collective created a celebratory feast of salty discovery.

Beef Tea

Ingredients 
2kg beef shin bones
400g stewing beef
2 onions, roughly chopped
A few bay leaves
A small handful of thyme
2 cans chopped tomatoes
About a teaspoon of peppercorns
Salt, to taste

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180.
  • Roast bones for about an hour, turning every so often.
  • Add roasted bones to a large pot with stewing beef, vegetables, herbs and peppercorns.
  • Add enough cold water to cover (with about an inch or two on top)
  • Bring to a boil and skim off any froth or scum that rises to the top.
  • Simmer gently for a few hours.
  • Strain through a fine mesh sieve, and skim off fat from the top of the broth - you can cool for a few hours and remove the fat then, if it’s easier.
  • Season with salt to serve.
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Ceramic salt sellar made with volunteers from the Lion Salt Works.

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The Great Salt, mid dinner

Blinis

Ingredients
450g potatoes, baked until soft.
3 egg yolks
1 egg
100g sour cream, plus extra to serve
30-40g plain flour
1 teaspoon of fine salt
A few twists of black pepper
¼ teaspoon baking soda
A little freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
30g butter, melted and cooled. 

Method

  • Peel the potatoes and mash or pass through a potato ricer.
  • Mix potato mixture with flour, salt, pepper and baking soda (and nutmeg if using).
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, egg yolks and sour cream.
  • Make a well in the centre of the potato mixture, and add the egg mixture. Slowly incorporate into the potato mixture until a thick smooth batter forms.
  • Set aside to rest for ten minutes.
  • Heat a heavy-bottomed frying pan and brush with a little melted butter.
  • Cook tablespoons of batter in batches, leaving space between the blinis.
  • Cook for about 90 seconds each side - until golden.
  • Keep warm as you cook the rest of the batter.
  • Serve with sour cream and salt-pickled carrots

Tempura samphire & fermented wild garlic mayo

Ingredients
1kg wild garlic, washed and shredded
1 tbsp salt
2 egg yolks
1 egg
400 ml vegetable oil
Juice of 1 lemon
tbsp. mustard
100g samphire or glasswort
220 ml sparkling water, chilled
85g plain flour
Oil for frying

For the mayonnaise:
First make the fermented wild garlic – this needs to be done at least 10 days in advance. In a large bowl, salt the shredded leaves generously, and massage them until they wilt and produce enough liquid to cover themselves. Place a plate over the leaves, and weight down with something heavy for 24 hours. Transfer to a clip–top jar, packing the leaves tightly and making sure that the wild garlic is submerged in its liquid. Use a pickling weight, or a jam jar filled with water to ensure that the leaves remain submerged (don’t put the lid on your container yet).  Leave to ferment at room temperature for at least a week until bubbles form on the surface, and you enjoy the flavour of your pickle – the wild garlic flavour should have mellowed, there will be a slight sourness which will increase the longer you leave the ferment. When happy with the taste, seal the jar and transfer to the fridge.

Make a mayonnaise: In a food processor blend the egg yolks, mustard, and lemon juice. Slowly add a very thin stream of oil, continuing to blend, until the mixture emulsifies and becomes thick and glossy.

Stir though a tablespoon or 2 of the wild garlic to taste. Check seasoning and add salt if necessary.

For the tempura:
Make the batter just before you start frying.
Add flour to a bowl. (NB you shouldn’t need to salt this batter as the samphire is so salty, but if you do want to add salt, add now). Gradually add in the cold fizzy water, but do not over mix – chopsticks work well as a tool rather than a whisk, as it’s important not to over beat the batter (too much beating would create gluten, and result in a heavy batter). If the batter is lumpy, that’s fine.  
Heat oil to frying temp –170 Celsius is about right. If you don’t have a candy thermometer or deep fat fryer you can test this by dropping a small drop of batter into the oil – you want to it to sink about halfway and then rise to the top of the oil. If it rises to the surface straight away it’s too hot, if it sinks to the bottom, it’s too cold. When ready, dip small handfuls of samphire into the batter and fry until golden and crisp – should only be a couple of minutes. Remove battered samphire from the pan (chopsticks are also good here), shake off excess oil and drain on kitchen roll. Fry in batches (too many in your pan will lower the temp of the oil)  keeping an eye on the temperature of the oil and regulating as necessary. Serve straight away with the mayo as a dipping sauce.   

Salt pickled carrots

Ingredients
2kg carrots, peeled and grated
2 tbsp salt
2 tsp black mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp black onion seeds
large pinch red chilli flakes

Method

  • In a bowl, rub the salt into the carrots until they start to release some liquid.
  • Add the spices and mix.
  • Press all the ingredients into a sterilised jar and push down until the juices rise over the top of the carrots.
  • Close the lid and leave to ferment for 7-10 days at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. After five days you will see it start to form small bubbles.
  • Make sure the ingredients remain below the liquid. Keep fermenting and taste it daily until it tastes tangy and good, then refrigerate.
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The Great Salt, cutlery with salt dough handles

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Assembling the dashi broth 

Dashi broth/soup

Ingredients
Kombu (seaweed)
Dried shitake mushrooms
Salt to taste
Eggs
Wheat noodles
Fresh coriander

For the broth:

  • Add a large piece of kombu to a pot of cold water (as much water as you need for broth).
  • Bring very slowly to a gentle simmering point - do not allow the water to boil. When the water is almost boiling, lift out the seaweed (you can dry it and use it again). 
  • Add a few handfuls of dried shitake mushrooms to the water, and bring to a rolling boil.
  • Simmer for 10-15 minutes. 
  • Take off the heat and leave to infuse for a while.
  • Season to taste with salt. You can also add miso paste for a rich umami flavour.

Brine boiled eggs:

  • Bring a pan of well-salted water to the boil.
  • Add eggs gently and cook for 7-8 minutes.
  • Allow to cool a little.
  • Peel and set aside for broth assembly!

To assemble the soup:
Cook noodles (we used fresh wheat noodles) and transfer to bowls.
Add peeled eggs.
Add warm shio or miso broth.
Add freshly chopped coriander and spring onions to serve.

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Ceramic salt sellar made with volunteers from the Lion Salt Works.

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Salt baked celeriac

Salt baked celeriac

Ingredients
One large celeriac, scrubbed clean (unpeeled)
300g fine seasalt
300g plain flour
5 egg whites
100-150ml water

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, mix together salt, flour, egg whites and enough water to form a thick paste.
  • Place a few spoonfuls of the salt paste in a roasting dish.
  • Sit the celeriac on top, and cover with the remaining paste.
  • Bake for 3 hours.
  • To serve, cut the top of the celeriac parcel. Make a few cuts and add butter and black pepper. Replace top.
  • Serve with a peppery green salad - dressed simply with lemon and oil - and lightly toasted hazelnuts.
Dinner

Diners at The Great Salt

Umeboshi ice-cream 

Ingredients
4 small umeboshi (pickled, brined, plums), stoned and finely chopped
(or 1 tablespoon of umeboshi paste)
250ml double cream
250g plain yoghurt
60g honey

Method

  • In a large bowl, whip cream to form stiff peaks.
  • Gently fold in honey and yoghurt.
  • Stir in umeboshi and transfer to a freezer-proof container.
  • Freeze until firm - stirring each hour for the first 4 hours. 

Miso cake

Ingredients
170g butter, at room temperature
300g caster sugar
10-12 egg yolks (12 if very small)
1 generous tablespoon white miso paste
150g plain flour 
70g ground almonds
10g baking powder
160ml milk (and a little more if necessary)

Method

  • Preheat oven to 170°C
  • Line a tin with baking parchment (a swiss roll tin or oven dish is fine, about 9 x 13 inches, and at least 1 inch deep)
  • In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.
  • Beat in egg yolks and miso paste.
  • In a small bowl, mix together flour, almonds and baking powder.
  • Add the flour mixture and milk to the large bowl in two batches - e.g. add half of the flour, half of the milk, mix gently and repeat.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes (will depend on the size of your tin!) - until golden and springy. 
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Ceramic salt sellar made with volunteers from the Lion Salt Works.

Miso Cake Min

Miso Cake, unemboshi ice cream and Sea Buckthorn sherbert.

Sea buckthorn sherbet

Ingredients
1 tsp citric acid
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp baking soda
Sea buckthorn berries

Method

  • First dehydrate sea buckthorn berries – either in a dehydrator or on baking parchment in a very low oven (this may take all day). When absolutely dry, grind to a find powder using a spice grinder
  • Mix 3 tbsps of sea buckthorn powder with the other ingredients to make the sherbet powder.
  • serve sprinkled alongside the miso cake and unemboshi ice cream
Fairland Collective

Fairland Collective is Brenda Kearney, Motoko Fujita, Niamh Riordan and Francesca Ulivi - a group of artists and practitioners who collaborate together between Ireland, the UK and France, producing projects that recognise and prompt creativity in daily life. These projects often use cooking and meals to engage networks of people and communities, drawing on an archive of domestic skills and food processes gathered from previous and ongoing projects.