Young chef Michael Ploner puts a culinary spin on traditional Alpine staples. His innovative style of cooking uses fresh and local ingredients and an inventive twist on classic favourites. The result is a spectacular menu of dishes you won’t soon forget, from Arctic Char in Spiced Tea Marinade for main to “Moosbeernocken” with Yogurt Mousse for dessert. Try these recipes if you want to get a wow factor into your cooking!
Actually, 23-year old Michael Ploner from Nauders, Reschen Pass Area, likes doing what men of his age usually do, mountain biking, fishing and herb picking. Well, wait, herb picking? This might have to do something with Michael’s true passion, which is cooking. The Austrian National Champion in cooking in the year 2016 prepares fresh, locally sourced ingredients together skilfully at his parents’ Alpen Comfort Hotel Central in Nauders. Together with his friends and fellow young chefs Thomas Penz and Johann Egger, he won two gold medals at the 2016 Olympics for professional cooks in Erfurt, Germany. He likes giving his thoughtfully crafted fare a bit of a fun twist. Try his recipes for Arctic Char in Spiced Tea Marinade and “Moosbeernocken” with Yogurt Mousse. Be prepared to be blown away!
The Main: Arctic Char in Spiced Tea Marinade
Fillet and debone arctic char and cut into serving size pieces.
Spiced Tea Marinade
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 3 cardamom seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- Freshly grated lemon and lime zest
- 500 ml water
- 40 g salt
You could substitute many other kinds of herbs, including wild thyme, for example.
Strongly Recommended: The best way to use whole seeds is to dry roast them in a pan to bring out its unique taste and aroma. Dissolve salt in tepid water, add spices and combine with roasted seeds. For maximum flavour, pour the marinade over the fish fillets and set aside to marinate, 2 to 3 hours.
Melt the clarified butter in a skillet and gently place the marinated fish fillets in the skillet and sear quickly on both sides. Serve tepid with yogurt foam, herb dressing and rye bread crunch topping.
- 200 g yogurt
- 100 ml cream
- Salt, lime juice, sugar
In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, cream, and lime juice just to blend. Taste for salt and sugar and place mixture in a whipped-cream dispenser.
Screw down two cream chargers to release the gas into the whipper and shake vigorously. Invert, serve with the fish and enjoy.
For his herb dressing, Michael has handpicked fresh herbs in the environs of Nauders. You could use many other kinds of herbs, just to your liking.
The herbs from Nauders:
- Mountain stone-parsley (similar to parsley)
- Cow parsley
- Wild thyme
- 150 ml oil
- A handful of freshly picked mountain stone-parsley (or parsley)
- A handful of freshly picked cow parsley
- 1-2 stems of wild thyme
Heat the oil on medium-high heat and use a hand blender to whisk in the herbs. Let cool down and sieve through a colander to remove the remnants of the herbs. Use for the dressing.
- 100 ml herb-infused oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Fresh lime juice (from one lime)
- Salt, sugar
Add all ingredients and blend to combine until emulsified; season with salt and sugar. Drizzle dressing over fish fillets.
Rye Bread Crunch Topping
- 1 small loaf of rye bread
- 20 g clarified butter
Grate the rye bread. Melt the clarified butter in a pan and toast the rye bread in the butter over medium heat, until crispy. Season with salt and spread the crispy rye bread on a piece of kitchen paper. Toss the crunch topping over the fish fillets.
The Dessert: “Moosbeernocken” with Yogurt Mousse
- 125 g milk
- 4 eggs separated (yolks and whites)
- 70 g flour
- 3 tablespoons Moosbeeren (wild bilberries)
- 60 g sugar
Moosbeeren are delicious fruits found growing wild in Tirol on high ground. They are eaten fresh and made into delicious dishes; the most famous one is “Moosbeernocken”, a real Alpine treat! It is like bilberries in a pancake-like round form, sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Whisk egg yolks and milk together in a bowl. Stir in the flour and add the washed bilberries until you get a mixture as homogeneous as possible. In a second bowl, whisk egg whites with sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. Using a spatula, gently fold into the mixture. Heat butter in a skillet on medium heat. Drop a few tablespoons of the batter per serving. Cook the Moosbeernocken until golden brown on both sides. Serve with icing sugar and yogurt mousse.
- 220 g yogurt
- 100 g icing sugar
- Lime juice and zest from one lime
- 2 pieces of gelatine
- 90 ml cream
Mix the yogurt, sugar, lime juice and lime zest in a medium sized bowl. In a small bowl, dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Stir until gelatin is completely dissolved and add to the yogurt mixture.
Beat whipping cream until it just holds soft peaks, then fold into yogurt mixture gently but thoroughly. Pour mousse into molds and chill until set.
Photo Credits: W9 Studios, Stephan Elsler