Fennel, Lime, Shallot and Green Chilli Salad

I make variations on this salad a lot because I love it – you could use lemon or orange or another citrus that you like. Preparing it is made immeasurably easier by possessing a mandoline slicer. As a lover of vegetables – truly my favourite thing to cook – the mandoline is the tool I use the most after a knife. Slicing cabbage for slaws, potato discs for gratins and dauphinois, celeriac gratins, carrot ribbons, radishes for pickles, thin slices of onion are all made very easy and quick. We have one by OXO which is simple to use and can adjust to 3 thicknesses from paper thin to 1/2 cm. More sophisticated models come with attachments so you can do things like thin strips for celeriac remoulade. The main thing is to pay attention so you don’t cut your finger!

1 fennel bulb, tough outer layer and stalks removed
1 shallot, peeled
4 limes, of which 3 you will segment
1 green chilli
olive oil

How to make

Slice the shallot finely using a knife or a mandoline and put into a bowl and cover with water. Leave for 15 minutes, then drain and rinse.

Meanwhile, segment the limes (or other citrus fruit) – give yourself 5-10 minutes to do this.

With a small sharp knife cut disc from the bottom and the top of the lime so that you have removed the white pith and can see the flesh.

Stand the lime on its now-flat bottom on the chopping board.

You have already cut off the top of the fruit, so can see where the flesh starts and the pith ends: just under the pith is where you should position your knife as you prepare to remove the skin. Starting at the top of the fruit, slowly cut a strip downwards, following the curve of the fruit, trying to keep just below the pith so you lose as little fruit as possible. 

Make your way around the fruit, cutting strips off in this way, turning the fruit as you go. Use the line of fruit exposed from your previous strip to guide your knife for each new strip.

When you have done that, trim the fruit of any remaining bits of pith gently with your knife.

Then, insert your knife into each segment, close to the membrane that divides each segment and cut until you reach the inside of that segment. Take out the knife and do the same for the other side of that segment, staying close to the membrane. Gently pull out the segment – or if your cut has been really accurate it will fall straight out. Use your knife to cut a bit further if it’s not quite free from the membrane. Repeat with all segments.

Slice the fennel very finely.
Remove the seeds from the green chilli and slice into strips.

On a medium sized serving plate add your heap of shallot, sliced fennel, green chilli and lime segments. Pour over 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil, 1-2 hefty pinches of salt (to taste) and the juice of 1/2 your remaining lime (to taste). Toss well. If you want more lime juice or salt, just add it.

Let it sit for 5 minutes so the juices can mix, and then eat.


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