Ottolenghi’s Aubergine with Black Garlic

Aubergines with Black Garlic Sauce (3 of 25)

Talk about unwavering devotion – my obsession with aubergines and Ottolenghi’s style of cooking has not ceased ever since I got back from London. Tonight, I experimented with his Aubergine with Black Garlic recipe set out in his vegetarian cookbook “Plenty More”.

Many of you may be asking “what exactly is black garlic?”. To save you the trouble from wikipedia-ing it, black garlic is the latest “it” ingredient, a new superfood. No, it is not a new strain of garlic nor a mutated garlic derivative. It is simply a type of caramelised garlic made by heating whole bulbs of garlic over the course of several weeks, a process that results in black cloves. The taste is sweet and syrupy with hints of balsamic vinegar or tamarind. It gives an unexpected depth of flavour to dishes. It is mellow enough not to dominate. As an added bonus, it supposedly has twice the antioxidants as regular garlic.

As for black garlics origins, it was first used as a food ingredient in Asian cuisine. Nowadays, its popularity has spread to the United States as it has become a sought-after ingredient used in high-end cuisine. Thanks to its recent appearance on Top Chef and Iron Chef, these two television shows have created newfound fame for this otherwise frightful thing. Trust me, if you found this on your kitchen counter and didn’t know that it was supposed to be black, you would mistaken it for being rotten.

Aubergines with Black Garlic Sauce (22 of 25)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 medium aubergines, sliced widthways into 1.5cm rounds
  • 200 ml olive oil
  • 8 large or 16 small black garlic cloves
  • 200g Greek yoghurt
  • 1.5 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 7 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 red chillies, sliced on the diagonal into 3mm rounds
  • 5g dill leaves
  • 5g basil leaves
  • 5g tarragon leaves (though I had to do without tarragon as this is not easily found in Hong Kong)

METHOD:

1) Preheat oven to 250 degrees celsius.

2) Place aubergine rounds into a large bowl and mix with 60ml of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper.Aubergines with Black Garlic Sauce (24 of 25)

3) Lay out on roasting tin lined with parchment paper. Roast until golden-brown and completely soft – about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Aubergines with Black Garlic Sauce (10 of 25)

4) While aubergines are roasting, make the sauce. Place the black garlic cloves in a small food processor with 1/3 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons of oil, 2 tablespoons of yoghurt and the lemon juice. Blitz for a minute to form a rough paste and then transfer to a medium bowl. Mix through the rest of the yogurt and keep in the fridge until needed.

Aubergines with Black Garlic Sauce (17 of 25)

Aubergines with Black Garlic Sauce (12 of 25)

5) Heat the remaining oil in a small saucepan on high heat. Add the garlic and chilli slices, reduce the heat to medium and fry for about 5 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the garlic is golden-brown and the chilli is crispy. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic and chilli on to a kitchen paper-lined plate.

Aubergines with Black Garlic Sauce (9 of 25)

6) Arrange the aubergine slices, overlapping, on a platter. Spoon the yoghurt sauce on top, sprinkle over the chilli and garlic and finish with the herbs.

Aubergines with Black Garlic Sauce (1 of 25)

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Ottolenghi’s Chargrilled Broccoli with Fried Chilli and Garlic

Ottolenghi's Chargrilled Broccoli with Chile, Garlic, and Lemon (2 of 2)

My second attempt at Ottolenghi’s signature chargrilled broccoli dish. For those who aren’t aware, Yotam Ottolenghi, originally from Jerusalem, is a British-based chef, cookery writer and restaurant owner. He actually studied at Tel Aviv University before completing a master’s degree in comparative literature. It was not until in 1997, when he moved to the UK to plan to start his PhD, that he enrolled himself to train at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in London for six months. Following LCB, he waved goodbye to his PhD ambitions and worked as a pastry chef at The Capital, the Michelin-starred restaurant in Knightsbridge. From there he moved to work in the pastry section of the Kensington Place restaurant and that of the sister restaurant, Launceston Place, for a year, under the chef Rowley Leigh. He eventually became head pastry chef at Baker and Spice in Chelsea, London, where he met Sami Tamimi – co-founder of their delicatessens and restaurants and co-author of the Ottolenghi and Jerusalem cookery books – in 1999.

I personally love middle eastern food so am a fan of Ottolenghi’s cooking style. The smorgasbord of delicate spices and concoction of rich flavours; think hummus, dates, sumac, honey, pitas, chickpeas, mint and parsley.

Ottolenghi’s cooking style is rooted in, but not confined to, his Middle Eastern upbringing: “a distinctive mix of Middle Eastern flavours – Syrian, Turkish, Lebanese, Iranian, Israeli and Armenian – with a western twist”. His “particular skill is in marrying the food of his native Israel with a wider range of incredible textures and flavours from the Mediterranean, Middle East and Asia.

Chargrilled broccoli with fried chilli and garlic is one of Ottolenghi’s signature dishes. This recipe calls for a ridged grill pan to create those lovely char marks on the broccoli. I personally like adding a few slices of lemon as a garnish and for an instant colour boost to liven up the green dish.

Recipe below from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottaoelnghi & Sami Tamimi, copyright 2013.

INGREDIENTS: (serves 2 as a side)

  • 1 heads broccoli (about 1/2 lb/500 g)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 mild red chiles, thinly sliced
  • coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • toasted almonds or 1 lemon sliced into thin slices, for garnish (optional)

METHOD:

1. Prepare the broccoli by separating it into florets (can leave on the florets’ individual stems but I personally don’t fancy stems too much so chopped them off here). Fill a large saucepan with plenty of water and bring to a boil. Throw in the broccoli and blanch for 2 minutes only. Don’t be tempted to cook it any longer!

Ottolenghi's Chargrilled Broccoli with Chile, Garlic, and Lemon (18 of 18)

2. Using a large slotted spoon, quickly transfer the broccoli to a bowl full of ice-cold water. You need to stop the cooking at once. Drain in a colander and allow to dry completely. I found wrapping it in a tea towel and giving it a good massage, followed by a rigorous spin in the salad spinner, helps immensely. It is important that the broccoli isn’t wet at all. In a mixing bowl, toss the broccoli with 3 tablespoons/70 ml oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper.

Ottolenghi's Chargrilled Broccoli with Chile, Garlic, and Lemon (14 of 18)

Ottolenghi's Chargrilled Broccoli with Chile, Garlic, and Lemon (12 of 18)

3. Place a ridged grill pan over high heat and leave it there for least 5 minutes, until it is extremely hot. Depending on the size of your pan, grill the broccoli in several batches. The florets mustn’t be cramped. Turn them around as they grill so they get char marks all over. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and continue with another batch.

Ottolenghi's Chargrilled Broccoli with Chile, Garlic, and Lemon (9 of 18)

4. While grilling the broccoli, place the remaining scant 5 tablespoons/70 ml oil in a small saucepan with garlic and chiles. Cook them over medium heat until the garlic just begins to turn golden brown. Be careful not to let the garlic and chile burn–remember, they will keep on cooking even when off the heat. In the meantime, slice the lemon into thin half slices.

Ottolenghi's Chargrilled Broccoli with Chile, Garlic, and Lemon (8 of 18)

5. Pour the oil, garlic, and chile over the hot broccoli and toss together well. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Garnish with the lemon slices or toasted almonds (if preferred). Serve warm or at room temperature.

Ottolenghi's Chargrilled Broccoli with Chile, Garlic, and Lemon (1 of 2)

Ottolenghi's Chargrilled Broccoli with Chile, Garlic, and Lemon (7 of 18)


Thai Basil Salmon with Brown Rice Spaghetti

Salmon with Brown Rice Spaghetti and Thai Basil (5 of 11)

Friend visiting was allergic to gluten so I gave gluten-free brown rice spaghetti a try today. Verdict: this pasta is a lot stickier than when cooking normal pasta. Luckily though, taste is not compromised and in actual fact, I rather like it (gives it more texture)!

So what exactly is gluten?

Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat and related grains, like barley and rye. Gluten isn’t necessarily bad, but some people are gluten-intolerant, meaning their bodies produce an abnormal immune response when it breaks down gluten from wheat and related grains during digestion. The most well-known form of gluten intolerance is celiac disease, which affects 1 in every 141 people in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health.

When someone with celiac disease consumes gluten, it triggers an immune response that damages their intestines, preventing them from absorbing vital nutrients.

For those gluten intolerant, doctors would typically recommend a gluten-free diet. Patients must avoid eating any foods and ingredients that contains gluten, including bread, beer, french fries, pasta, salad dressing, soy sauce and even some soups (unless otherwise marked as “gluten-free”).

In recent years, however, many people without gluten intolerance have seemed to embark on the fad of the “gluten-free diet”.  Experts express concern that going gluten-free without explicitly needing to could be detrimental to a person’s health as gluten-free foods are often nutrient deficient.

INGREDIENTS (2 servings):

  • Brown rice spaghetti (enough for 2)
  • 280g of salmon sashimi
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes (yellow/red)
  • 1 large bunch of thai basil leaves
  • Handful of green peas (frozen will suffice)
  • 1 lime
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Crushed red pepper / fresh chilli (deseeded)

Salmon with Brown Rice Spaghetti and Thai Basil (10 of 11)

METHOD:

1) Boil pasta according to package instructions (~10 minutes for al dente. NB: Brown rice pasta can take longer).

2) In the meantime, prepare the salmon, thai basil leaves and cherry tomatoes. Slice the salmon sashimi into thin slices. Tear off the thai basil leaves from the stems and chop roughly. Slice the cherry tomatoes.

Salmon with Brown Rice Spaghetti and Thai Basil (7 of 11)

3) Slice the garlic and heat sauté pan with olive oil on medium heat. Pan fry the garlic until fragrant (be careful not to burn it!).

Salmon with Brown Rice Spaghetti and Thai Basil (8 of 11)

4) Chuck in the green peas and a teaspoon of salt. Now is the time to throw in the chopped deseeded red chilli (if using fresh) or sprinkle some chilli flakes.

Salmon with Brown Rice Spaghetti and Thai Basil (6 of 11)

5) Check the pasta. Once cooked, drain the pasta in a colander and  pour the contents from the sauté pan into the pasta pot. Throw in the chopped salmon, cherry tomatoes and basil then quickly pour the drained hot pasta back into the same pot and toss with your tongs. The salmon will slowly change colour as it cooks from the heat of the pasta. Add the juice from the fresh lime and toss again.

Salmon with Brown Rice Spaghetti and Thai Basil (2 of 11) Salmon with Brown Rice Spaghetti and Thai Basil (3 of 11)

6) Transfer pasta to bowls/plates and serve whilst warm.

 

Salmon with Brown Rice Spaghetti and Thai Basil (4 of 11)