Yotam Ottolenghi’s Fish Koftas in Ancho Chilli and Tomato Sauce

Serves: 4

The genius Yotam Ottolenghi’s latest book – Test Kitchen, Shelf Love – was one of my presents for Nat this Christmas just gone.

We’re spending the week post-Christmas, laying low. Waking up late, cooking or eating out, opening a Champagne each day no later than 1.

I kicked it off with this recipe last night.

It is just excellent.

With fluffy white rice and yoghurt to cool the spice kick, it is unique and particularly moorish.

The sauce can be made a day or two ahead meaning it is only a matter of frying the koftas when you need them.

Could not be easier. Could not be better for a lazy night in.

Cold beer essential.

And Merry Christmas 2021. Stay safe.

Ingredients

For the koftas

500gm firm sustainable white fish (e.g. cod, though we used barramundi)
4 spring onions, finely sliced
10gm dill plus extra to serve
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 egg, beaten
30gm panko crumbs
3 tbsp olive oil

For the tomato sauce

1 1/2 dried ancho chillies, stems removed
2 tsp caraway seeds toasted and roughly crushed
1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and roughly crushed
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 onion, roughly chopped
60ml olive oil
1 green chilli, halved lengthways
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 – 4 plum tomatoes, skinned and roughly grated
300ml chicken or vegetable stock
2 tsp caster sugar
25gm fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper

Method

  1. For the sauce, put the ancho chillies into a small bowl and cover with plenty of boiling water. Leave to soften for 20 minutes then drain, discarding the liquid. Roughly chop the chillies, then put them in a food processor alone with two-thirds of the caraway and cumin, all the garlic, the onion and 2 tbsp of oil. Blitz to a coarse paste.
  2. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp of oil in a large pan on a medium-high heat. Add the ancho paste, green chilli and tomato paste and cook for 7 minutes, stirring often, until softened and fragrant. Add the grated tomatoes, stock, 200ml of boiling water, the sugar, half the coriander, 1 1/4 tsp of salt and a good grind of pepper and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes. Keep warm on a low heat until needed.
  3. Meanwhile, make the koftas. Finely chop the fish into 1/2 – 1cm pieces. Put them into a large bowl along with the spring onions, dill, chilli, lemon zest, egg, panko, the remaining coriander, the remaining caraway and cumin, 1 tsp of salt and a good grind of black pepper and mix well to combine. Form into 12 round fish cakes.
  4. Heat 1 1/2 tbsp of oil in a large frypan on a medium-high heat. Add half the koftas and fry for 2 1/2 minutes per side, until golden. Transfer to a plate, then repeat with the remaining oil and koftas.
  5. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Add the koftas, then turn the heat down and cook for 10 minutes, to cook through. Leave to sit for about 5 minutes then top with the extra dill leaves.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s One-Pan Crispy Spaghetti and Chicken

Serves: 4

You have to give it to this guy. He is so clever.

And this dish is just that. Like, screw you clever. Like, why didn’t I bloody think of that clever.

Like one-pot-pasta clever, though cleverer than the first batch of one-pot-pastas we were all inundated with five years back.

It’s the simplicity. The rusticity. And the various textures of the spaghetti, from soft to crunchy: the caramelised chicken.

Look at that spaghetti!

And it is fun to dish and eat.

Screw you clever.

It is a weeknight meal though served on a Saturday night with friends, it would absolutely not look out of place.

It is just that fun… and good.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1kg skin-on chicken thighs (4-6)
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 large yellow onion, cut into 1cm dice
3 tbsp tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 c boiling water
230gm spaghetti, broken into thirds
1/3 c lightly packed finely grated Parmesan
3 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 c finely chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 220c.
  2. Add 1 tbsp oil to a large, ovenproof lidded skillet and heat over high. Season the chicken with 3/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper, then add to the hot oil, skin down. Cook for 7 minutes, without turning, to brown well.
  3. Turn down to medium-high, stir in the onion and turn over the chicken; cook for 5 minutes until the onion has softened and is slightly browned. Add the tomato paste, garlic and 1 tbsp thyme and cook, stirring the paste into the onions for 2 minutes or until fragrant and all browned.
  4. Add the boiling water, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper, then add the spaghetti, stirring to submerge and evenly distribute. Lift the chicken pieces so that sit on top of the spaghetti, skin side up. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and transfer to the oven for 30 minutes.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan, breadcrumbs, parsley, lemon zest and remaining thyme.
  6. After the pasta has baked for 30 minutes, remove from the oven and turn the oven to its highest setting and get the grill on. Sprinkle the Parmesan mixture evenly over the chicken, drizzle with the remaining oil and grill for a few minutes until nicely browned and crisp. Set aside for a few minutes and serve straight from the pan.