Moment of truth? This is really a garnish. In actuality, it’s a garnish that’s a relish, but “Condimento Picado” just sounds so much better than “Minced Relish”, doesn’t it? This is a perfect, tailor-made quick garnish/relish to add a punch of flavor to almost any plain, or simply prepared, protein. This, like most things we do, was born out of necessity. The Spicy Honey returned a bit late from a business trip, wanted something to eat, but nothing heavy. I had some partially poached salmon for the Salmon, Leek and Fennel Chowder (that’s tomorrow’s posting!), so I cut off a piece of the salmon, finished poaching it in the chowder broth and onto the plate. Let’s be honest, a piece of poached salmon, though delicate and sweetly delicious, just sort of lays there on the plate. You know what I mean. It needs something…something to make it pop a bit. A crowning glory, so to speak. You know, like a tiara for The Goddess. Yes, a nice little sprinkle of paprika would have dressed it up, but that’s not going to really do much but be pretty. Suddenly, I had a “light bulb-moment”. You have those, right? You see, I have big pots of herbs growing on my back staircase, and they aren’t there to “garnish” the back stairs. They are there for just such an occasion. So I
raced sauntered gingerly out and tore off some parsley, chives, and lemon balm. I gave everything a good rinse, patted them dry, pulled out my favorite knife and started mincing. I tossed the herbs together, then thought a little minced red onion and some capers would be a perfect addition, so I minced those and tossed everything together, right there on the chopping board. Make certain you add a good big pinch of salt, too. I had a Meyer lemon sitting on the counter, so a grated just a bit of zest into the bowl, then cut off the end and placed it on the plate with our “blank-canvas-salmon”. I simply sprinkled the “condimento” liberally over the salmon and BOOM!…dinner is served. Pretty simple, isn’t it? To give you an idea as to how quickly this can go together, the salmon was still hot when I served it. Seriously. This took literally about 2-3 minutes to make.
For a couple of hours I had been thinking about enjoying a slice of toast with peanut butter. Frankly, you can keep your peanut butter sandwich, but for me, there’s something comforting about a slice of toast (whole grain preferred), hot out of the toaster, with no butter, but smeared with peanut butter. The peanut butter gets all melty and the toast is all crisp…give me a moment…. Thank you. Thank you for your patience. I’m back now. I think because I wasn’t “over peanut buttered” as a child, I still like peanut butter toast…who knows? While I was getting my slice of bread out, The Spicy Honey made a comment, “Babe, this is perfect and I really like that condimento on top of the salmon”. I stopped in my tracks. I decided to rethink my peanut butter toast and have a small piece of the salmon, “all decked out”! And he was right. It really was rather tasty and it got me thinking about this condimento. It really did compliment the salmon without obliterating it, as some sauces can with delicate fish. I think if I had a cucumber, I would finely dice a bit and add that, too. I love dill, but The Spicy Honey isn’t as fond of it, so I didn’t use that, but 1 tablespoon of fresh dillweed to replace 1 tablespoon of the chive would be quite delicious.
Now, you’re probably thinking that this mixture sounds a bit chimichurri-like…yeah? In reality, it is, but no oil here. I chose not to add oil. I thought about it, but decided to omit it. The oil would have added nice flavor, but it would have made the sauce heavier and would have detracted from the salmon. I thought about squeezing some lemon juice into the mixture, but opted to serve lemon on the side instead. The diner needs to take part in the meal, too!
I mentioned earlier this is a flavor enhancer for protein…turns out, it’s pretty tasty on veggies, too. Specifically, potatoes and green beans. But, you should be the judge. If you shoot down to the bottom of the post, I’ve given you some herb combinations…these are mere suggestions and you should combine whatever your heart (and taste buds) desires. I spooned a bit over the Salmon, Leek and Fennel Chowder…nice and pretty!
This very edible “garnish” is great with meats, fish, poultry, as well as vegetables. It goes together quickly and should be used within a couple of hours, as the freshness dissipates after that; it does not keep well.
- 8 tablespoons finely minced fresh herbs (see NOTE)
- 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and finely chopped
- 2-3 tablespoons finely minced red onion or scallions
- Grated zest of 1/4 lemon (about 1/2 teaspoon–Meyer lemons preferred)
- Kosher salt
Put all the ingredients in a bowl; add a good pinch of salt. Toss or mix until completely combined. Use within 2-3 hours.
NOTES: The amounts given are flexible. The herbs are flexible, but fresh herbs only, please. I like the herbs very finely chopped or minced, but that’s my preference. For salmon, I used 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives, 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley or cilantro, 2 tablespoons minced fresh lemon balm or mint. I think 2 tablespoons of very finely chopped cucumber would be really nice with this, too.
Condimento Picado Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2018. All rights reserved.
Omitting the capers, but keeping the onion and mincing fresh herbs only, will make delicious options for chicken, fish, beef or pork. I think this is best on something simply prepared. Other possible herb/flavor combinations might be (red pepper flakes and/or a drizzle of honey can be added to any of these combos):
- 4 tablespoons parsley, 2 tablespoons dillweed, 2 tablespoons chives
- 3 tablespoons parsley, 3 tablespoons basil, 2 tablespoons oregano or marjoram
- 4 tablespoons basil, 3 tablespoons parsley, 1 tablespoon oregano, 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 4 tablespoons parsley, 3 tablespoons tarragon, 1 teaspoon (lemon) thyme, 1 teaspoon grated lemon or orange zest
- 4 tablespoons parsley, 4 tablespoons cilantro
- 4 tablespoons parsley, 2 tablespoons mint, 2 tablespoons oregano
- 5 tablespoons parsley, 2 tablespoons rosemary, 1 tablespoon thyme
You may add lemon, orange, tangerine, or lime zest to your taste. You may add garlic. Use scallions, instead of red onion. Add crumbled bacon or minced sun-dried tomatoes…in other words, make this your own.