London chef-restaurateur Yotam Ottolenghi has streamlined his cooking in his seventh book, Ottolenghi Simple (Appetite by Random House, $42).
The big, beautiful collection of fast and easy dishes shows his sunny approach to cooking vegetables and other foods. The well-written recipes offer offbeat combinations and punchy flavours, sometimes thanks to such Middle Eastern ingredients as pomegranate molasses, sumac (a lemony spice), za’atar (a sharply flavoured herb) and the hot chili paste harissa.
A Jerusalem-born Guardian columnist who comes from a Jewish-Italian-German family of academics, Ottolenghi opened the first of his five London delis and restaurants in 2002, after training at the London Cordon Bleu. Those of us lucky enough to have dined in his restaurants know big flavours are his signature. He proves you don’t need more than about 10 ingredients to turn out a fine dish, and you probably have his 16 “everyday” ingredients in your kitchen. The new book proves it’s worthwhile to add his 10 Middle Eastern seasonings.
This fish recipe was mentioned in the movie Bridget Jones’s Baby.
Bridget Jones’s Pan-Fried Salmon With Pine Nut Salsa
3/4 cup (175 mL / 100 g) currants
4 salmon fillets, skin on (total 500 g)
7 tablespoons (105 mL) olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
4 medium celery stalks, coarsely chopped (reserve leaves)
1/4 cup (60 mL) pine nuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup (60 mL) capers, plus 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of their brine
1/3 cup (75 mL / 40 g) large green olives, pitted, coarsely chopped
Pinch saffron threads mixed with 1 tablespoon (15 mL) water
1 cup (250 mL) chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 lemon *
* Grate peel to make 1 teaspoon (5 mL) lemon zest; squeeze 1 teaspoon (5 mL) juice
Put currants in a cup and add boiling water to cover. Let stand 20 minutes, then drain off water.
Season salmon with 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the oil, a generous 1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) salt and some pepper. Set aside.
Heat 5 tablespoons (75 mL) oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Fry celery and pine nuts for four to five minutes, stirring, just until nuts are brown. Remove pan from heat and stir in capers and brine, olives, saffron and its water, and a pinch of salt. Add currants to pan along with parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice. Set aside.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon (15 mL) oil in a large, heavy frying pan over medium-high heat. Fry salmon, skin side down, for three minutes, or until skin is crisp. Lower heat to medium, turn fillets and fry another two to four minutes.
Arrange salmon on four heated plates and top with salsa. Scatter celery leaves on top.