The arrival of summer signals strawberry season in the UK, but there’s much more to this bright and juicy fruit than sickly jams and traditional tarts. Naturally sweet, strawberries can be used to balance out otherwise savory dishes, giving a berry boost to everything from gazpacho to salsa. Here are 10 satisfyingly savory ways that top chefs put a punnet to use – hold the sugar and cream.
Turbot and pickled strawberry
Joshua Owens-Baiglerco-founder and chef at AngelineLondon
This is our sous chef Khanh Tran-Thanh’s recipe. We use fresh alpine strawberries – they’re a little bit more tart – to dress a turbot sashimi. Start by making a light pickle using one part sugar to two parts rice wine vinegar and two parts water, and boil with peeled ginger and desired chilli, then chill. Thinly slice the strawberries and add to the pickle mix for 4-5 hours – it’s a quick pickle to keep the fruit’s acidity and colour.
We also puree strawberries and blend with olive oil, ginger, mirin, rice vinegar and yuzu kosho to make a dressing. Then, finely slice and score raw turbot, top with the dressing followed by the strawberry pickle and serve.
Strawberry salad with strawberry sauce
Romy Gill, chef, food writer and broadcaster
Chop a large handful of fresh coriander, 20 mint leaves, 2 bird’s-eye chillies (or 1 tsp chilli flakes/½ tsp chilli powder), and mix with the juice of 1 lime, a little salt and 150g strawberries, diced small. Add 4 tsp olive oil and 1 small, diced shallot (optional). This salsa will last for a few days. Then, make your salad: rocket and strawberries are a match made in heaven, so start with that as your base. Peel and dice some sweet potatoes, then roast in the oven for eight minutes. Halve 400g strawberries, then mix with the rocket and sweet potatoes in a big bowl. You can either dollop the sauce on top, or stir through.
Pork medallions with strawberry sauce
Sabrina Ghayourhost of the Sabrina’s Kitchen supper club and author of Blind
Being Persian, we use fruit a lot in savory recipes. Hull and halve 250g strawberries and place in an oven tray. Toss with 1 tbsp sugar, 3 star anise and a little lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, then roast at 200C for 25-30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Then, extract the star anise and leave the mix to become jammy. Roll lean pork fillet in ras-el-hanout, or any spice mix you like, and pan fry over a medium/hot heat for 8-10 minutes each side, then rest. Pop the strawberry sauce into the same pan to pick up any residual juices and reduce, then serve with the meat.
Spicy Strawberry Jam
Vitellius Reyesexecutive chef at Amazonian, London
We produce a lot of strawberries in South America, and I like to make them into a kind of fruity ketchup. Sauté 100g chopped shallots with 50-80g spicy chillies (depending on the chilli – if you use scotch bonnet, then 25g is more than enough) in a little olive oil. Add 100g red wine and 100g red vinegar, followed by 400g sugar and 1kg strawberries. Cook down and then season with salt and Worcestershire sauce. Blitz together to get a jammy texture, then serve with pork crackling or deep-fried chicken wings. The mix of sweet and spicy is a good palate cleanser.
Strawberry salad platter
Adam Woodhead chef at Gardenhouse, cambridge
I like to make strawberries the highlight of a salad. For this platter, start by blending 3 tomatoes, 1 cucumber and 1 shallot to a pulp with 1 garlic clove, spices and herbs. Then, sieve to get a tomato-flavoured water to use in a dressing with olive oil and vinegar. For the salad itself, slice a bulb of fennel, another cucumber and red onion, and toss with watercress, mint, lovage and purple basil. Pickle some strawberries (slice, then steep in balsamic vinegar for five minutes), leave some fresh and barbecue a few if you’ve got a barbecue going. Scatter over the watercress base, then top with your dressing, pick herbs and plenty of olive oil.
Strawberry, lime and chilli powder ice lollies
Karla Zazuetafood writer, cookery teacher and founder of Mexican Food Memories
I make these for my children – it’s really simple and they love it. To make 10 lollies, blend 2 punnets of strawberries with ½ cup water, 2 tbsp agave syrup and the juice of 1 lime. Then, pour into ice lolly molds and freeze. Before serving, dip in chilli powder: in Mexico, we’re crazy about Tajín, a chilli powder with salt and lime (it’s also really good for margaritas). We have it with everything, especially fruit. Don’t add it to the lolly mix itself – the salt means it won’t freeze properly. The sweet strawberries go really well with the savory punch of the chilli.
Roast duck with pickled strawberries and creamed potatoes
Oli BrownChef Founder of Updown Farm, Kent
Strawberry purists, turn away now! But for those adventurous feelings, pickled strawberries make the perfect accompaniment to fatty and slightly gamey roast duck, as well as silky creamed potatoes. Simply bring to the boil 150ml white wine vinegar, 50g caster sugar and water, 1 star anise and ½ tsp of chilli flakes. Leave the mixture to cool before dropping in a handful of strawberries. Let them sit for 20 minutes, so the fruit is still sweet but very slightly pickled. Then, serve the strawberries alongside the duck and potatoes for a surprising but very satisfactory combination.
Nicholas Balfechef founder of Levan and Larry’s, London, and Holm, Somerset
A refreshingly fruity gazpacho is perfect for summer – this recipe serves four, with seconds. Toss together 4 ripe vine tomatoes, 1 clove chopped garlic, a few sprigs of thyme, 1 finely chopped shallot, 1 chopped red pepper and 500g strawberries with 1 tsp each of salt and caster sugar, plus a pinch of black pepper. Leave to macerate for up to an hour in the fridge, then blend in a food processor with a few mint leaves. Next, add 300ml olive oil to thicken. Serve with a few slices of strawberry and a drizzle of oil on top. Don’t forget to chill your bowls so it stays nice and cool.
Strawberry, burrata and pink peppercorn salad
Mark Perkins, executive pastry chef at Rosewood London
Sweet and savory always work well together. My parents have an allotment where they grow strawberries, and during the summer we always have strawberry salads. I just halve strawberries and cherry or plum tomatoes, then fold through a basil pesto and basil vinaigrette (made by infusing olive oil with fresh basil and combining with white wine vinegar). Then I sprinkle fresh baby basil leaves, crushed pink peppercorns and sea salt over the salad and top with burrata or mozzarella. Serve with Pimm’s – with cucumber and more strawberries! – and fresh sourdough bread.
Strawberries and steak
Callum Murphy Woods, head chef at The Coal Shed, Brighton
Once, for a staff lunch, we had a Sichuan-coated grilled sirloin steak, sliced really thin and flash fried, and served with wild strawberries we had left over from a cheesecake we had on the menu. We put them in some aged balsamic, whole, for 10 minutes, to give them a bit of a lift. Then we griddled pak choi, chopped it up and mixed it with rocket, sliced spring onions and the balsamic strawberries. We dressed the greens with a dressing of 1 garlic clove (minced), a thumb-sized piece of ginger (minced), a sloshing of sesame oil, lime juice, soy sauce and a little honey, then topped with the steak. It’s pungent, funky food.