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Food Pairings - Vanillla and Cardamon

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Food Pairings - Vanilla and Cardamom

Arun Kapil- Spice Specialist for Green Saffron

Some facts on cardamom:
. Cardamom comes from the seeds of a ginger-like plant.
. Cardamom is one of the world's very ancient spices.
. It is native to the East originating in the forests of the Western Ghats in southern India, where it grows wild.
. Today it also grows in Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Indo China and Tanzania.
. The ancient Egyptians chewed cardamom seeds as a tooth cleaner; the Greeks and Romans used it as a perfume.
. Vikings came upon cardamom about one thousand years ago, in Constantinople, and introduced it into Scandinavia, where it remains popular to this day.
. Cardamom is an expensive spice, second only to saffron.
. The Arabs attributed aphrodisiac qualities to it (it features regularly in the Arabian Nights) and the ancient Indians regarded it as a cure for obesity.

Roast Irish Salmon with a Soft Herb Crust, Vanilla & Black Pepper Champ and Green Cardamom Sauce

The intriguing flavour combinations of this dish are complimented by the sweetness of the salmon, the texture of the herb crust and the earthy potatoes. The perfume of the vanilla is intensified by the inclusion of black pepper and balanced by the very finely sliced spring onions, the sauce brings the whole dish together with the spicy citrus ginger undertones of the cardamom - a great dish for special occasions when you really want to show-off and impress your guests!


Herb Crust

. 50g fresh breadcrumbs
. 50g soft herbs; a mix of finely chopped parsley chives dill chervil tarragon or what ever you have to hand
. 50g shallots, finely diced
. 15g Parmesan, grated
. 1 clove garlic
. light olive oil
. black pepper
. Dijon mustard, about 5 tblsp


1. In a sauté or small frying pan, heat a little olive oil add the shallots and sweat off for 3 minutes, until they become translucent
2. Add the breadcrumbs and a little more olive oil so moist but not wet.
3. Cook gently for 2 minutes, then take off the heat and put in a bowl.
4. Allow to cool, then add parmesan, black pepper and the mixed, fresh herbs
5. Mix to combine all the flavours, check the seasoning.

NB the texture of the crust mix should be so as all the ingredients hold together nicely.



. 4 fillets of salmon (5-6 oz) all centre cut nice and thick evenly sized, skinned, and fat removed


1. Place fish skin side up season with a little salt and pepper then brush with a little Dijon mustard and season.

2. Gently apply the crust mix to each fillet, so it's about 6mm thick. Pressing gently, tidy up so all the edges are even, tidy and tight with a palette knife.

3. Place a sheet of grease-proof paper on a flat baking tray and brush with a little olive oil, then season the paper with sea salt and black pepper

4. Place the fish fillets so they're spaced evenly on the grease-proof then pop into the fridge for later and to allow the crust to firm up.

NB. Any leftover herb crust can be frozen or you could use it on split baked potatoes, cheese on toast, roast mushrooms, many things; all delicious!

5. When ready, bake the fish fillets for 8mins at 200°C, so the crust is just golden and the fish moist.
6. Allow to rest for 2 mins.

Vanilla Champ


. 500-600g mashing potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
. 1 vanilla pod split, beans scraped out and all infused in 100-150ml milk, 50ml cream & 50-80g butter for 10 minutes at a simmer
. 4-6 spring onions, cut very finely on the bias
. Salt
. A little fresh ground white pepper and generous amounts of fresh ground black pepper


1. Boil the potatoes in salted water
2. When cooked, drain well then dry out in oven or on top of your stove to remove excess moisture.
3. Bring the milk, butter and cream back to a simmer with the split vanilla pod still in.
4. Meanwhile, mash the potato through a moulis, potato press or using your 'handy masher', making sure the potato is kept as hot as quickly!!

NB the heat is the secret to a perfect, creamy mash.

5. When adding the infused hot cream to the potato you should slowly incorporate them, so as to end up with an unctuous, thick mash.
6. Then, with a big spoon or a large whisk, add generous amount of the peppers - check the seasoning, then add the finely sliced spring onion, trying not to allow the champ to cool.



. 200ml golden chicken stock
. 6-8 cardamom pods cracked and infused in 100ml of cream for 10 minutes with 1 tsp beurre manie
. 50-100g unsalted butter, cubed
. white pepper and salt as required


1. In a thick bottomed pan, reduce the chicken stock by half, then add the strained infused cream and bring to a simmer.
2. Add cold knobs of butter and bring to a brisk boil, whisking as it bubbles so it will thicken.
3. Check the seasoning, crack a little more fresh cardamom in the sauce and serve drizzled around the fish fillet.

Facts on Vanilla:

The vanilla bean comes from an orchid that is native to Mexico. It was used by the ancient cultures that lived in Central America.
In fact, vanilla was unknown in Europe until Cortes introduced both vanilla and chocolate to European nobility in the 1520s.

It is grown in three major areas:
. Madagascar
. South Pacific
. West Indies

Trinity College Vanilla Cream, Pistachio, toasted almond & Green Cardamom Sugar Biscuit

Serves 6 - 8, dependant on size of dish used


. 730 ml Double cream
. 80 ml Milk semi skimmed
. 8 Egg yolks
. 80 g Castor sugar
. 2 Vanilla pods, split and beans scraped out.
. 3 g black pepper, freshly ground
. Unrefined GS sugar as required

Trinity College Vanilla Cream

Makes 6 x 135 ml portions


1. In a thick bottomed pan, infuse the vanilla pods in the cream by bringing to boil, turning off the heat and leaving it where it is, to rest (and infuse!)
2. In a separate bowl, beat together the yolks and sugar then stir them into the milk
3. Pour a small quantity of hot cream onto the yolk mixture, whisk then add to this mix to your pan
4. Cook until mixture thickens at very low heat, stirring almost constantly
5. When the mixture is thick and coats the back of a wooden spoon well, remove vanilla pod and pour the mixture into food blender
6. Blitz so that it's smooth, then add 3g of cracked black pepper and pour into ramekins
7. Allow to cool, then cover with cling film and chill in fridge leave for a minimum of 24 hours.

Sugar Biscuit


1. Dry roast 50-100 g shelled, split whole almonds in a pan so just golden brown (Marcona almonds from Spain are a wonderful milky almond from Spain),
2. Crack and roughly chop 50-100g skinned, raw pistachios
Now to make a make a sugar caramel....
3. Place 250 g of castor sugar into a thick bottomed saucepan and gently heat until it browns to a golden dark caramel
4. Next, add the ground cardamom seeds of 5 pods to the 'melted' sugar
5. Then, being extremely careful, quickly pour the molten sugar onto a very lightly oiled marble slab or work surface
6. Pour or drizzle the sugar with a spoon so you achieve at least 6 maybe 12 thin sugar biscuits 40mm x 150-200mm long x 2-3mm thick,
7. Immediately, scatter-as- you-go, the nuts, dried raspberry, cocao nibs (if using) and a little more grated green cardamom
8. Leave to cool. Set aside the remaining other nuts for garnishing

NB. Please remember sugar is very hot! So never touch it until it's cold. And a little tip, to clean pans and spoons; pour cold water into the pan to cover and sugary spills, pop the 'caked' spoons in, bring to gentle boil and the sugar will disappear...ready for the pot-wash and no scrubbing required!!

Let your imagination run riot - for a change you might like to incorporate different spices, add summer fruits to the bottom of the dish or even chocolate.