Claudia Roden’s Fried Fish with Cumin and Tahini Sauce

Serves: 4

As I started typing up this recipe, it struck me that there is not a Claudia Roden recipe I haven’t typed.

I am new to her cooking; the only question, is why?

This recipe is just lux.

Total joy.

Total simplicity.

Total genius.

If you served this to friends as part of a long lunch in the sun, there would be smiles all around. It’s just that good.

Ingredients

4 firm white fish fillets, such as bream or sea bass, skinless
3 tbsp plain flour
1 – 1 1/2 ground cumin
2 tbsp olive oil, for frying
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 lemon, quartered, to serve
Saltt

Tahini sauce

3 tbsp tahini
Juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon, to taste
1 small garlic clove, crushed

Method

  1. For the tahini sauce, stir the tahini in the jar before putting 3 tbsp in a small serving bowl. Gradually add the lemon juice and 2 – 3 tbsp water, beating vigorously with a fork and adding just enough water to get the consistency of a runny cream. The paste with stiffen at first and then become light and smooth. Add a little salt and the garlic.
  2. Season the fish with salt. Put the flour, cumin and a pinch of salt on a plate and mix well. Turn the fish fillets into this to coat them all over, then shake vigorously to remove the excess flour.
  3. Heat a small amount of oil in a non-stick fry pan. Put the fillets in and cook over a medium-heat, turning them over once, for 3 – 10 minutes depending on their thickness, until crisp, lightly browned and just cooked through.
  4. Serve the fish with a sprinkling of parsley and the lemon quarters. Serve with the tahini sauce.

Claudia Roden’s Sweet and Sour Minty Grilled Courgettes

Serves: 4

One of my favourite BBQ tricks is to toss sliced zucchini with oil, chilli and garlic and to grill alongside the chicken, pork, whatever.

It dials things up and shows a bit of effort.

This dish goes further and the addition of the ricotta is wonderful.

Nat absolutely loved the sweet and sour of the sauce and of course, it can all be prepared in advance.

Ingredients

3 courgettes (zucchini), cut lengthways into 1cm-thick slices
Olive or sunflower oil
100ml white wine vinegar
50gm sugar
1 tbsp dried mint
Salt and black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil, to serve

Whipped ricotta

250gm smooth ricotta
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Grated zest of 1/2 small lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste

Method

  1. For the ricotta, whip the ricotta with the oil, lemon zest and season.
  2. Preheat a grill to high. Brush the courgettes with oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt. Grill on the BBQ or on a griddle pan for about 10 minutes until tender and lightly browned in places.
  3. Heat the vinegar and sugar with the dried mint and some pepper in a small pan over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar melts, then simmer for 2 minutes to reduce it a little. Arrange the courgette slices side by side on a serving plates pour the vinegar dressing over them and add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve with the whipped ricotta.

Claudia Roden’s Spelt and Tomato Salad

Serves: 6

Nat and I love farro; an ancient Mediterranean wheat species.

And it is definitely back in vogue based on the number of salads featuring farro we have cooked the last few years.

As with many (all?) of her recipes, this salad is simply a charming honesty of ingredients. Entirely satisfying to the point that I kept reaching for spoon after spoon.

There is a suggested variation which, whilst I have not cooked, I’ve listed below. It’s the next farro adventure.

Variation

Omit the tomatoes; instead, mix in 50gm raisins (soaked in water for 30 minutes), 50gm lightly toasted pine nuts and the shredded leaves of 3 basil sprigs and 3 mint sprigs.

Ingredients

250gm pear farro or spelt
200gm baby plum tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon, to taste
Bunch of flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
Salt and black pepper

Method

  1. Soak the farro or spelt in plenty of cold water for 30 minutes. Rinse, drain and put it in a pan with plenty of water to cover. Bring to the boil and simmer until tender, adding salt towards the end. Drain and put it in a serving bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Claudia Roden’s Tagliolini with Lemon

Serves: 2 – 4

Nat and I had this Sicilian dish as the starter of a slow lunch and what a way to start.

It hero’s lemon and it is just “incredibly delicious” as Claudia puts it in her book Med. Absolute lemon simplicity, especially with a fresh pasta as we did.

And completely elegant.

P.S. Nat wasn’t entirely sure this dish was type-up-worthy. She very much liked it, though found it very much on the lemon side. Nat suggested adding some fresh chilli to cut through.

I absolutely love lemon so this was a home-run for me, though we both agreed, as a starter only.

Ingredients

200gm tagliolini
Salt
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
6 tbsp double cream
Salt and black pepper
Grated Parmesan to serve

Method

  1. Cook the tagliolini in boiling, salted water until al dente.
  2. In a serving bowl, mix the lemon zest and juice with the cream and add salt, to taste.
  3. When the pasta is cooked, drain and mix with the sauce.
  4. Serve with plenty of Parmesan and a few good cracks of pepper.

Claudia Roden’s Pan-Grilled Fish with Garlic, Vinegar and Chilli

Serves: 2

This Spanish dish is fabulous.

Read through the ingredients and you’ll immediately get a sense of the simplicity coming.

The lightly golden garlic with sherry vinegar. A beautifully pan-fried piece of fish. And the side of the cannellini beans.

Together with this salad of roasted carrots, it is ironically yet unironically a 1-hat meal.

An absolute joy.

I doubled the recipe and so baked the fish. The sauce doubled perfectly.

Ingredients

2 hake, bream or sea bas fillets, skin on
4 tbs extra virgin olive oil
5 large garlic cloves, sliced
Good pinch of chilli pepper
2 – 3 tsp sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt

White Cannellini Beans

1 onion, chopped
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
400gm tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
A few fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper

Method

  1. For the cannellini beans, fry the onion in 1 tbs of oil over a low heat, stirring until softened and beginning to colour. Add the cannellini beans. Season, add the thyme, add 100ml water and cook covered for 5 minutes. Set aside and serve with a drizzle of 1 – 2 tbs oil.
  2. Season the fish with salt. Heat 1 tbs of the oil in a heavy non-stick frying pan. Put the fillets in, skin-side down and press them down with a spatula to flatten them as the skin curls. Cook over a medium-heat until the skin is crisp and lightly browned. They will gradually cook through almost to the top. When ready, turn and cook the flesh side for a few seconds more.
  3. For the dressing, in a small pan, gently heat the remaining 3 tbs of oil with the garlic and chilli until the garlic is only just lightly golden and crunchy (do no let it get brown). Take off the heat and add the vinegar, to taste.
  4. Serve the fish very hot, with the dressing poured over, sprinkled with parsley.

Claudia Roden’s Spicy Roasted Carrot Salad

Serves: 6 – 8

This Moroccan starter is particularly delicious.

I served it as a side and wow, you could do a whole lot worse.

I only did half the carrots asked for in the recipe and so of course the spicy cooking sauce was doubled. Absolutely no regrets.

Serve it with some labneh and this would literally pair with anything.

Ingredients

1kg medium carrots, peeled
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 – 3 tbs olive oil
1 tbs honey
Juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon, to taste
Chilli pepper, to taste (optional)
Salt and black pepper
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil, to serve
3 tbs roughly chopped coriander

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  2. Cut the carrots in half, then cut them in half so that you have wide sticks.* Put them in a baking dish.
  3. In a bowl, put the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, olive oil, honey, lemon juice and chilli (if using). Season, mix very well and pour over the carrots, turning with your hands until they are coated all over.
  4. Bake for about 1 hour until the carrots are tender, turning them over once. Leave to cool.
  5. Serve at room temperature with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of coriander.

* I used baby carrots and so did not cut.

Claudia Roden’s Stuffed Peppers with Breadcrumbs, Anchovies, Olives and Capers

Serves: 6

What a simple, elegant way to kick off a meal.

A lightly stuffed Romano pepper, with a fragrant, Mediterranean stuffing of anchovies, olives, capers, parsley, breadcrumbs and olive oil.

This was the first recipe I cooked from Claudia Roden’s new book Med and I am in love. As I type, I am eight recipes in and each has been such a great, simple example of how a few ingredients and flavours can bring so much joy.

This dish could very easily be prepared in advance, mixing the breadcrumbs and parsley with the balance of the stuffing at the last minute.

Lovely.

Ingredients

3 Romano peppers, cut in half lengthways and seeded
6 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and chopped
6 good quality black olives, such as Kalamata, pitted and chopped
1 tbs tiny capers in brine, drained and squeezed
Small bunch of flat-leaf parsley leaves chopped
40gm fresh breadcrumbs
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 150c. Line a roasting tin with foil and arrange the peppers cut-side up on the foil. Roast for about 30 minutes until they are soft. Leave to cool.
  2. Mix all the remaining ingredients together to make a stuffing. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, put a little stuffing into each and serve at room temperature.

Claudia Roden’s Egyptian Red Lentil Soup with Caramelised Onions

Serves: 6-8

This soup originated from a woman who lived in a little village on the Nile; it is in Claudia Roden’s latest book Med and it is wonderful. The cooked down lentils bring a creaminess to the soup, the spices bring a warmth and it’s finished off with the sharp sweetness of the caramelised onions.

I thought the lentils would take ages to cook down but they don’t. It can be an easy, healthy, delicious weeknight meal.

Ingredients

1 large onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cup of dried red lentils
2 litres vegetable stock
2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
Pinch of chilli
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and Pepper to taste

Ingredients- caramelised onions

3 large onions, sliced
Splash of balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar

Method

  1. Soften the onions, carrots and garlic in olive oil in a large pan on low heat for about 10 mins.
  2. Add the lentils and stock and bring to the boil and then simmer for 40mins, until the lentils have disintegrated. As foam appears on the top skim it off.
  3. Meanwhile cooked the caramelised onions in a pan on low heat with a bit of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar until dark and soft, about 30-40mins.
  4. Stir in the cumin, coriander, chilli and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. If the soup needs thinning add a bit of water, it shouldn’t be too thick.
  6. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with caramelised onions.

Dan Toombs’ Malabar Fish Curry

Serves: 4

I wasn’t sure about this curry at first glance.

Though anyone doubting Dan Toombs when it comes to Indian is brave. And so on I went.

What threw me was that the ingredients are boiled in water. No oil except for the fried shallots which are a garnish.

Conclusion. Brilliant. Aromatic and a delicious sauce.

I simmered the coconut mixture for longer though not intentionally. Perhaps it added to it, perhaps not.

Check your salt though get this right and you have a wonderful, entirely unique fish curry on your hands. Absolutely top notch.

Ingredients

1 1/2 c fresh or frozen coconut*
1/2 ground turmeric
1 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
2 tbsp minced ginger
1 green chilli, finely chopped
3 kokum peels or 2 tsp tamarind concentrate
500gm cod or other meaty fish like halibut or ling, cut into medium chunks
1 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
10 curry leaves
3 shallots, thinly sliced
Salt, to taste

Method

  1. Blend the coconut and turmeric into a fine paste or powder and set aside. **
  2. Bring 500ml of water to the boil in a pot (preferably a clay pot). Add the coconut mixture, chilli powder, ginger, green chilli and korum (or tamarind concentrate) and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  3. Add the fish and simmer with the pan covered for a further 7 minutes or until the fish is just cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small pan over a medium-high heat, When visibly hot, add the mustard seeds and when they begin to pop (30 seconds), reduce the heat to medium and stir in the curry leaves and shallots and fry until the shallots are soft and slightly browned.
  5. Pour over the curry; leave as a garnish and/or stir the oil into the curry. Check for season and salt as needed.

* Easily sourced in the freezer of an Indian grocer.

** I didn’t process and left the grated coconut combined with the turmeric. We loved the texture though the smoothness of the curry processed would be an equally lovely experience.

Aun Koh’s Char Siu using Sous-vide

Serves: 4 – 8 depending on serving size

Nat and I cooked this 6 years ago and neither of us has forgotten it.

It’s by a blogger Aun Koh who clearly loves his food and travel. Great photography and attention to detail.

He is a total sous-vide snob and whilst he loves pork belly, pork neck is his go-to for being a leaner cut.

Essentially, marinate for 36 hours and then sous-vide for 24 hours. Glaze and cook in the oven on a temperature high enough that the door falls off.

And that’s it. Just add rice.

And OMG. After that sous-vide, this is a meal you’re going to remember.

A few years back, Nat and I did a bonkers 5-star trip to Hong Kong sans kids. We ate like kings and a meal that we often reference was at Tin Lung Heen. Two Michelin stars, 102nd floor of The Ritz Carlton.

Excellent.
Nat: even more excellent.
The char-siu was very good.

Very unassuming as I am sure you can imagine.

Anyway, they have a char siu that must be preordered; which of course I did, having reviewed the menu weeks out.

And look, the whole experience was pretty amazing. The walk through the black and golden wine cellar on the way to the bathroom is dazzling just in-and-of itself.

And sure, the char siu was excellent. Amazing. Though not as good as this recipe.

Ingredients

1kg Berkshire or Kurobuta pork neck
Rice to serve

Marinade

6 spring onions, sliced into 4cm lengths and smashed
8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
3 tbsp regular soy sauce
2 tbsp Chinese rice wine
3 tbsp sugar
2.5 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp rich chicken stock
1 tsp sesame oil

Finishing sauce (enough for 2 strips)

1 tsp salt
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tsp honey

Method

  1. Mix all the marinade ingredients together.
  2. Cut the pork lengthways into strips around 5 – 6cm wide and 1 – 2cm thick. Cut strips crosswise if needed into pieces 12 inches long. (Photo below to illustrate.) Place into a large baking dish that can accommodate all the pork in one layer. Pout the marinade over the pork. Seal with dish with cling wrap overnight, at least 12 hours and up to 36 hours. Turn the pork a few times during the marinating process. Keep in the fridge.
  3. Prepare your sous-vide and bring the water to 58c.
  4. Place each piece of pork, with some marinade, into a vacuum-sealable bag and seal at high pressure.
  5. Drop the bags into the water bath and cook for 24 hours. Once done, prepare an ice water bath and plunge the bags of pork directly into the ice water. Once cool, dry off the bags and liberate (love this word!) your pork, and move to the final stage of finishing off the pork.
  6. Mix the finishing sauce. (From experience, you cannot have too much.) Taste, it should be salty-sweet.
  7. Preheat your oven to the highest temperature it can go. Pour some water into a roasting pan. Over the pan, place a large wire rack that fits over the top of the pan.
  8. Brush as much of the finishing sauce onto the strips of pork. You want it thick. Lay the pork on the wire rack (and over the water in the roasting pan). Pop this in the oven for 10 minutes or until the surface of the char siu is nicely charred.

    (Use a blow torch instead.)
Here you go. Achieve this and you’ve won.