Winner of the regional UK & Ireland final of this year’s S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition, Killian Crowley is heavily inspired by Irish produce. At the finals held towards the end of last year, Killian’s signature dish – Turbot, Kohlrabi, Sea purslane – impressed judges and won him a place in the S.Pellegrino Young Chef global final, taking place in May, held in Milan to coincide with Milan Food City Week. Following his success in the regional leg of the competition, we spoke to Killian Crowley about his signature dish, made using a plethora of locally-foraged ingredients. He’s also shared the recipe for keen home cooks to attempt to recreate the dish at home.
How did you come up with the dish and how difficult has it been to fine tune to its current iteration?
I have been inspired by the produce of the west of Ireland, its wilderness and beauty. Simplicity of the area as to be felt in the dish. I’m using simple and well known techniques that I learned through different places that I worked in. I wanted to showcase what Ireland has at it’s best, that most people are not aware of. Its based on the same ethos as Aniar, where I’m working with JP McMahon. A simple and well executed dish based on the quality of the best local produce. The hard work is done before: when you have to source the produce, and because its based on local produce, seasonality and wild produce, controlling all the parameters is pretty hard. That’s why the dish has to be simple.
How did you source the more specialist ingredients used (sea truffle, arrow grass, sea spaghetti, etc.)? And did you struggle to keep the dish seasonally led for the competition?
These ingredients are used every day at the restaurant. They are all over the country. We have 1450 km of coastline where the wild seaweed and sea vegetables grow. At Aniar, we have people that forage for us and the chefs also go foraging as well at times during the day. The fact the competition itself is in November makes a little bit harder to find wild produce, but as the name of the dish is only three words, it gives me the freedom to play around with what is available. I’m using only produce that I can find and nothing else. That’s the beauty of the food we do in Aniar.
What would your most crucial piece of advice be, for anybody attempting to recreate the dish at home?
Take your time and focus on the right things; find the right produce, season it properly and cook it as it should be. Be in control of everything you’re doing. Keep it simple. Tasty simple things are always better than tasteless fancy dishes.
How have you been preparing for the competition’s final?
Meetings with Angela Hartnett are set up to fix details about the dish. I’m going to keep on practicing and look through all the details. I need to make it work and stay in control of the dish and the execution. Simplicity is key. Cooking at home or in the restaurant during the service is completely different from competing but I love it. The team in Aniar is very supportive and I get plenty of time to practice.
How to make Killian’s Turbot, Kohlrabi, Sea Purslane signature dish
Preparation: three hours
Cooking time: one hour
Razor clams, 1kg
White wine, 200g
Unsalted butter, 1kg
Sea salt Acran Island, 200g
Sea purslane, 200g
Sea lettuce, 100g
Fresh nori, 100g
Sea beet, 80g
Sea truffle (powder), 20g
Sea spaghetti (powder), 20g
Arrow grass, 20g
Dillisk (powder), 40g
Pepper Dulce, 20g
Chicken stock, 1litre
Kelp oil, 100g
Bonito vinegar, 50g
Egg white, 20g
Rapeseed oil, 400g
Seaweed vinegar, 20g
To prepare the turbot
Clean the fish.
Grill the whole fish on the bone.
Put the fish in a gastro, with the seaweed, white wine and chicken stock.
Rest the fish at 65°c in an Altocham (or an oven) for 45 minutes to one hour.
To prepare the razor clams
Prepare the pickling base and cool it down.
Clean the razor clams.
Steam the razor clams 45 seconds to one minute, remove the sand bag.
Clean the arrow grass.
Cold pickle the Razor clams in a vacuum pack bag for 10 minutes (alternatively used a zip-lock plastic bag with as much air removed as possible).
Use the arrow grass as a skewer.
To prepare the kohlrabi
Clean the kohlrabi and peel it.
Smash the oyster shells and mix with egg white, seaweed and sea salt (crust).
Cover the kohlrabi with the oyster shell and cook it at 175°c for 30 minutes.
Slice it and rest it in oyster liquor.
To prepare the oyster emulsion
Blitz the 6 oyster in a jug and monté with rapeseed oil, like mayonnaise.
To prepare the turf smoked sauce
Sweat the shallots with butter and deglaze with white wine then reduce.
Smoke the butter with the turf.
Reduce the jus from the fish and pass it.
Add a bit of boiled cream, monté with the smoked butter.
Season and balance with vinegar.
To prepare the sea purslane
Clean it. Store it by size, big leaves to small leaves.
To prepare the Cona broth
Weight all of the sea weed in the top bowl of the Cona. Put the hot chicken stock and the bonito vinegar in the bottom one and infuse for 12 minutes.
Present the whole fish on a tray with all the seaweed. Carve it and plate it on the centre of the plate.
Brush the kohlrabi with oyster emulsion and stick the sea purslane.
Emulsify the sauce and plate it on the side of the fish.
Plate the pickled Razor clams on a stone with the arrow grass as a side plate.
Serve the seaweed broth in a bowl on the side as a palate cleanser.