Love it or hate it, liquorice is an acquired taste that most of us will only be familiar with in candy form. However, in the kitchen, liquorice has plenty of untapped potential as both an elegant and sophisticated ingredient worth further exploration.
Liquorice is a flowering plant from the bean family; its root has a sweet and aromatic flavour. Liquorice extract has long been used in herbalism and traditional medicine to treat various diseases. It is thought to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects although liquorice should not be consumed in excess as it can be toxic.
Learn how to cook with liquorice and you will discover its versatility in both sweet and savoury dishes and the characteristic edge it imparts to dishes.
The Great British Chefs website recommends liquorice in savoury dishes with game and pork as well as pairing it with bitter herbal juniper notes. While, come dessert time, liquorice is bold enough to take centre stage against a neutral backdrop like ice cream and panna cotta. Conversely, liquorice can also pair up well with other big flavours like mint, ginger, rhubarb and raspberries.
Liquorice can be bought for cooking either in its natural form as a woody root, or finely ground in powder form (find out how to make your own at Ferdies Food Lab), while desserts sometimes call for the childhood favourite black shiny liquorice in sweet form.
Here are 3 recipes to show you how to cook with liquorice.
Black garlic, liquorice and macadamia crusted Alaska salmon
Great British Chefs have the recipe for black garlic, liquorice and macadamia crusted Alaska salmon.
- Grind the liquorice and salt together into a powder. Toss with macadamia nuts and water before lightly toasting in a pan and grinding in a food processor once cool. Add black garlic and mix thoroughly.
- Make the tomatillo salsa.
- Rub the salmon skin in oil and fry in a hot pan skin-side down for 3 minutes.
- Place the salmon on a baking tray and press the macadamia crust onto the skin. Cook at the bottom of the oven for 5-6 minutes.
- Serve with the tomatillo salsa.
Black liquorice caramels
- Spray a pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- Melt the butter before adding sweetened condensed milk, sugar, corn syrup and salt. Cook on a medium heat to 234˚F to produce a soft and chewy caramel.
- Remove from the heat and stir in anise extract and black food colouring. Pour into the pan and leave to cool before chilling in the refrigerator.
- Cut into pieces and wrap in wax paper.
Black ice liquorice ice cream
- Put the liquorice sticks in a saucepan with a little water and place over a low heat until the liquorice has melted.
- Heat the milk and cream.
- Whisk the eggs, add the sugar and vanilla and continue whisking. Gradually pour the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking continuously. Return to a low heat, stir in the melted liquorice and heat until it coats the back of a spoon.
- Add the black food colouring.
- Set aside for about 30 minutes before covering and refrigerating.
- Churn in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.