Spanspek, cucumber & culatello soup
A wondrous new take on an old flavour combination.The light, thinly-sliced charcuterie is not stiffened by the chill of the soup, and is cut by the spoon and dissolves into your mouth perfectly with the other ingredients. Given the fact that we freeze the liquid into an almost granita-like state, we use the word soup loosely with this one, but essentially, that's what it ends up becoming.The subtle hint of chilli makes its way through in the cucumber salsa that provides some fresh crunch. The herbs also have a magical part to play and should not be omitted from the recipe. I've played around a bit with the plating here, draping the charcuterie over cuts of melon so as to encourage the collaboration of the two ingredients. But, as always, you can do whatever pleases the eye and the palate at the plating stage.As long as you keep the balance of flavours in check and are able to do it quickly so that the granita doesn't melt, then you're golden. Another important consideration is to let the "soup" element of the dish be blended thoroughly, until silky smooth, and then allowed to freeze whilst occasionally mixing and scratching it.The resultant granita-like soup is exactly the kind of mind-blowing effect you want to offer up on a balmy summer evening. When plating, make sure you have everything as ready as it can be before you start to serve directly to expectant guests.
- 1 Sharp knife
- 1 Chopping board
- 1 high speed blender
- 1 small mixing bowl
- 1 large spanspek melon
- 1/2 cucumber
- 50 g finely-sliced culatello
- 60 ml lemon juice
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp mild red chilli flakes
- Peel and de-seed the melon. You may cut small pieces, whichever way you wish to garnish your soup with, I went for different shaped triangles for mine. Use about 30% of the melon for this making sure you have equal amounts and shapes for each of your bowls.
- Cut up the remaining melon and place in blender along with 50ml of lemon juice, a pinch of salt and a tbsp of honey. Blend until as smooth as you can possibly cat it and then place in a wide container that will fit in your freezer and allow to freeze. As it starts freezing, keep scratching it with a fork so it doesn't freeze solid but retains a nice, snow-like consistency.
- As a soup should only be eaten with a spoon, cut your culatello into manageable sizes before adding to the soup. I draped some over my melon and then cut the melon into shape to get the effect you see in the image. This allows the person eating to cut the charcuterie into the fruit making it easier to break it up.
- Slice some cucumber ribbons for garnishing each plate, remove the seeds from the remaining amount of cucumber and brunoise (chop very finely).
- Mix the chopped cucumber with a dash of olive oil, salt and chilli flakes and mix thoroughly. Use as garnish in final plating.
- It is essential the herbs are cleaned and prepped before starting to plate, as time is of the essence. Make sure that the herbs are of a small size and manageable, if not, cut them to be so.
- Combine the ingredients moments before serving and enjoy!