Afik Gal's beetroot parfume

Photo: Afik Gal's beetroot parfume (Daniel Mahon)

Afik Gal is the man who keeps the Melbourne branch of Israeli dining sensation Miznon running day-to-day. Here he shares a recipe for a chilled beetroot soup that makes an elegant starter. Gal demonstrated this dish at Masterclass supported by Sanpellegrino during the 2019 Melbourne Food & Wine Festival.

Serves 5-6

Ingredients

1kg baby beetroot including leaves, washed
1 small white onion, peeled and quartered
1 carrot, cut into thick rounds
1 dried red chilli
¼ cup olive oil
50g fresh horseradish root, peeled and finely grated
200ml crème fraîche
Extra-virgin olive oil, to serve

Method

1. Separate the leaves from the beetroot. Cut the beetroot into roughly 1.5cm-thick slices (skin on). Chop a third of the leaves (discard remainder).

2. Place the beets and chopped leaves, onion, carrot, dried chilli, olive oil and a little sea salt (Afik Gal uses Atlantic sea salt) in a heavy-based casserole over high heat. When the vegetables start to “sing” (after about 2-3 minutes) reduce the heat and stir the mixture with a wooden spoon every 1-2 minutes. After about 10 minutes, the beets will be beautiful and shiny – they're being glazed in their own sugar and are barely starting to soften on the outside.

3. Increase the heat again to high and slowly start adding water, glass by glass, to the casserole, ensuring the water remains simmering. Keep adding water until the beets are covered and simmer until the beets are medium tender. It’s very important to cook them to the stage where they are soft but still have a fresh flavour and a slight crunch.

4. Transfer the mixture to a blender. You can play with the ratio of cooking liquid to determine the consistency of the parfum. Blend until smooth. Taste and add salt if needed. Pass the mixture through a chinois into a bowl and place immediately in an ice bath to reduce the temperature and keep the shiny deep-purple colour.

5 .To make horseradish crème, mix together the horseradish and crème fraîche, refrigerate for 2-3 hours, then strain through a chinois.

6. To serve, pour parfum into Martini glasses or small bowls, top each with a spoonful of horseradish crème and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.