After spending years travelling across Thailand and cooking at some of London’s finest Thai spots, including Smoking Goat and The Begging Bowl, Seb Holmes — as 25 year-olds so often do — went on to open his own place.
Farang is set up on a corner of Highbury Park, where, since its inception in 2017, it’s been drawing crowds hankering for Holmes’ Bib Gourmand-garlanded dishes. Combining a shedload of Thai flavour with British ingredients, the restaurant’s supplied by some of the city’s best producers – and it’s the dayboat fish from Bourne’s fishmongers that inspires many of the seafood dishes on the menu.
“We often have this dish on at Farang; sometimes we use prawns, cod or seabass instead but generally its the exact same dish,” Seb says of this green nham jim cured salmon. “I love dishes like this as the fish does most the talking.”
Thai meals usually comprise a number of different dishes, designed to accompany each other. “Eaten at dinner time this would be served with a curry, a soup, a stir-fry and some fried or grilled snacks, overall creating a sweet, spicy, salty and sour balanced meal,” Seb explains. But you’ll also find those flavours balanced perfectly in this one dish: “It eats deliciously on its own with some steamed jasmine rice as a lunch dish too.”
“For me mid to late spring / summer is ideal for this dish as it relies on very fresh fish,” he adds, “perfect with a chilled glass of white in the sunshine.”
And if he were to describe the dish in three words?
Extremely bloody tasty.
From Seb Holmes’ ‘Cook Thai’, published by Kyle books
Green Nham Jim Cured Salmon with Apple & Dill
Amongst Thai chefs bird’s eye chillies are referred to as scuds, sensibly nicknamed after the missiles developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. So, it will come as no surprise that these little beauties can cause some damage if you’re not careful – be sure to keep them clear of your eyes and other delicate places. I still remember the first time I got jungle curry paste in my eye; although my colleagues found it hilarious, it’s an experience I would not wish on anyone! It is always best for the nham jim dipping sauce to be as fresh as possible to ensure the lime juice doesn’t oxidise.
Serves 4 as a snack or side [GF]
- 2 tablespoons coriander root
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled
- 8 green bird’s eye chillies (scuds)
- a pinch coarse sea salt
- 2 tablespoons caster sugar
- 5 limes, juiced
- 2 mandarins, juiced (or clementine)
- 4 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 sour eating apple, grated or julienned
- 10g, washed mint leaves, roughly torn
- 10g, washed coriander leaves, roughly torn
- 200g fresh salmon. bloodline and pin-bones removed and sliced into 1cm thick pieces
- 10g, fresh dill, chopped
Using a pestle and mortar, pound the coriander root, garlic, then chillies (in that order) to a coarse paste, using the pinch of salt as an abrasive, if necessary.
Next add the sugar and pound for a further few seconds. This should leave you with a relatively smooth paste, though a little chunk is not the end of the world.
Finally, add the lime and mandarin juices and the fish sauce. The sauce should taste sweet, salty, sour and hot. An exact recipe is impossible, as ingredient strengths vary, depending on where they are grown, so adjust the seasoning to suit your tastes.
Next divide the dressing between two separate bowls. In one of these add the apple and mint. In the other, add the sliced salmon and gently toss to ensure that all the fish has contact with the nam jim.
Leave the salmon in the dressing for 1–2 minutes, then remove and gently toss in the apple and mint sauce. Serve on a plate sprinkled with dill.