We asked if we could take a peak around the store cupboards of our favourite chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s home. As you’d expect, the master of fusion food has some interesting ingredients and wonderful ideas for you guys to try.
Yotam’s stunning new cookbook – NOPI: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully, Ebury press £13 Amazon – is out now. Food pictures by Jonathan Lovekin.
Tahini – this is not an unusual ingredient but I use it in unexpected ways. I grew up spreading it on toast (instead of peanut butter) so still love to drizzle it over my porridge in the morning, along with date syrup. It’s great on ice cream too or in dressings for a green salad, mixed with soy sauce, honey, cider vinegar and a bit of crushed garlic.
Barberries – these little dried Iranian berries have an astringency which currents and raisins lack. I love to stir them through a dish like saffron rice or dot them through an otherwise rich frittata: they have a clean bite, which provides a real jolt of surprise and delight.
Tamarind pulp – ready-made tamarind pastes are widely available but nothing compares to the real deal of making your own. Simply soak a chunk of the pulp in hot water, mashing it together, and then passing it through a sieve to get rid of the tough seeds. The result – the thick paste or thinned down tamarind water – is a complete flavour-bomb in all sorts of dressings, sauces and dishes.
Mirin – this isn’t an unusual ingredient, but it’s one worth seeking out in specialist shops or on-line. It should be really sweet and viscous, made from just rice, water and koji – a cultured rice used to spur fermentation. I used it in all sorts of contexts – a dressing for a fresh coconut and peanut salad, as just one example, or in the pickling liquid for some thinly sliced kohlrabi.
Black garlic – these little black fermented cloves of garlic have a mellow and fermented sweetness that we don’t tend to associate with garlic. I love to blitz them up with harissa, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of chilli: you get a thick unctuous sauce which wedges of roasted aubergine are thirsty to get coated in.
Valdespino sherry vinegar – I love to use this cask-aged vinegar in all sorts of dressings, salads and sauces, particularly those with a sharpness – a citrus salad or a green salad with sumac-onions – in need of a counterpoint: it has a wonderfully sweet and complex taste which is rich and mature yet fruity and fresh all at once.
Miso paste – I use a lot of white, brown or barley miso paste in my cooking. It’s made from fermented soy beans and rice, wheat or barley and, as with all things fermented, it really packs a punch and is a great way of getting loads of savoury flavour into a dish. It’s wonderful in a dressing, mixed with rice vinegar, mirin and a drop of sesame oil.
Black glutinous rice – this has all the nutty bite of brown rice without any of the ‘70s health food shop’ associations of brown rice. It also looks fantastic against the colour clash of diced mango or papaya or bright green, fried Brussels sprouts and slivers of red chilli and garlic, as I just discovered last week.
Photography of Yotam and Ramael by Adam Hinton