Ver­jus tog­a­rashi

What chefs use at home

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ANew Yorker pro­file of Yo­tam Ot­tolenghi in 2012 quoted a reader of his Guardian col­umn, who said she had omit­ted an in­gre­di­ent in a ce­viche recipe. “I’m a bit of a Yo­tam fan,” she wrote, “but his mere men­tion fills my hus­band (who does most of the shop­ping) with dread. This week’s ‘dried fen­nel pollen’ might send him over the edge.”

While ask­ing for a quar­ter of a tea­spoon of any kind of pollen feels like culi­nary Spinal Tap, Ot­tolenghi’s lists of in­gre­di­ents have changed the way that su­per­mar­kets stock their shelves. It would ap­pear that the trickle-down ef­fect in cui­sine is as un­mis­tak­able as that seen in the fash­ion world from the sup­pos­edly cerulean blue jumper.

Of course, our shelves are often piled high with bot­tles and jars of things to which we rarely turn; we are crea­tures of habit with kitchen cab­i­nets deeper than our times­trapped meal-mak­ing abil­i­ties truly war­rant. So, which spices, cuts, leaves and liq­uids have yet to shine on am­a­teurs’ kitchen coun­ters? We asked 20 chefs around the coun­try to tell us the in­gre­di­ents we should be us­ing more often. Ver­jus A great non­al­co­holic sub­sti­tute for wine in cook­ing. It is less acidic than vine­gar and more savoury than lemon. It is good with fish, scal­lops, john dory, even a bit of cod. I like to re­duce it, then add a stock and re­duce again, to use as a base for a hol­landaise or a beurre blanc. Ryan Simp­son-Trot­man, Or­wells, Hen­ley-on-Thames Maggi sauce A great, quick, cheap sea­son­ing. Just a few drops en­hances soups and sauces and brings to life a bowl of noo­dles. It has a sim­i­lar con­sis­tency to Worces­ter­shire sauce and is a richer ver­sion of soy sauce. Pierre Koff­mann, Koff­mann and Mr White’s, Bath Un­usual flour More ex­pen­sive than plain flour, but still cheap, which makes ex­per­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties pos­si­ble. Spelt makes good pas­try; green pea flour makes great savoury pan­cakes; yel­low pea and chick­pea flour is good for frit­ter bat­ter. We’re try­ing to make puff pas­try with pea flour. It’s de­li­cious, it just doesn’t puff. Ni­cola Hordern, Dar­sham Nurs­eries, Suf­folk Tog­a­rashi

A ver­sa­tile Ja­panese sea­son­ing. You have the flavour of cit­rus from the yuzu peel, nut­ti­ness from the se­same seeds and smok­i­ness from the chilli. Ex­cel­lent on scram­bled eggs, a bowl of rice or as a rim to a bloody mary. Na­talie-Lee Joe, Ji­dori, Lon­don Foraged herbs Hedgerow herbs, such as woodruff, are amaz­ing in both sweet (poached ap­ples or pears) and savoury (roasted parsnips) con­texts. Chris Har­rod, The White­brook, Mon­mouth Kombu seaweed Leave a piece in water for 40 min­utes and you have a stock that you can use as a base for soups, veg­eta­bles or meat stews. It’s a won­der. Mar­got Hen­der­son, Rochelle Can­teen, Lon­don Cele­riac Mas­sive in flavour, and cheap in terms of how much you get. You can roast it, puree it or serve it raw. We roast it with cin­na­mon and nut­meg for a win­ter salad, but it’s so flavour­some, you could not add any­thing at all. Steffan Richards, Wright’s Food Em­po­rium, Lla­narth­ney Fen­nel seeds Brings an aniseed flavour to any dish, be that a veg­etable curry or fish roasted in white wine. I like to crush them and mix with dried chilli and salt to sprin­kle on fried fish or tem­pura veg­eta­bles. Alex Jack­son, Sar­dine, Lon­don Ta­marind paste For adding acid­ity and amaz­ing dark fruit aro­mas. It’s avail­able in any Asian gro­cers and most cor­ner shops. A spoon­ful works won­ders in a chicken stir fry. Brian Don­nelly, Bia Rebel Ra­men, Belfast Gochu­jang This Korean fer­mented red chilli paste is re­ally tasty in chicken noo­dle broths or ox­tail braises. It’s con­cen­trated so you don’t need much and it packs a punch. Jon Rotheram, The Marks­man, Lon­don Rice vine­gar A rounder, milder, sweeter flavour than other vine­gars. Great for salad dress­ings, quick pick­les or brais­ing meat. It also has mul­ti­ple health ben­e­fits. Shuko Oda, Koya res­tau­rant, Lon­don

Of­fal ffal De­li­cious, li­cious, nu­tri­ent-dense tri­ent-dense (so long as you go for or­ganic, grass-fed ss-fed meat that has not been pumped mped full of hor­mones and chem­i­cals), mi­cals), cheap and, in terms of f us­ing the whole an­i­mal, sus­tain­able. nable. We make a her­ba­cious ter­rine rrine from pig’s head meat, which ch we then slice, crumb and d deep-fry to make cro­quettes. Do­rian Kirk, A Rule of f Tum Burger Shop, Here­ford


Dried fruit Dried ed apri­cots and d prunes are a great ad­di­tion to any meat stew – for a dish that’s too salty (sugar can bal­ance the salt), too sour (sugar con­trasts sour) or too wet (dried fruit soaks up water like a sponge, and thick­ens the sauce). Stewed alone, they are a life­saver for break­fast or pud. Ja­cob Kenedy, Bocca di Lupo, Lon­don Beer In place of wine, cook­ing with beer adds fan­tas­tic depth of flavour to both savoury dishes – a dark beer in, say, a steak pie – and sweet desserts alike. Mak­ing cock­tails with beer also adds some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. Tom Kitchin, The Kitchin and Scran & Scal­lie, Ed­in­burgh Date syrup A great way to use less re­fined sugar. It has a lovely dark colour and is so ver­sa­tile – driz­zled over yo­gurt, in poached-fruit syrups, cakes, ketchups, dress­ings. Neil Camp­bell, Rovi, Lon­don Net­tles De­li­cious, abun­dant and free; a great al­ter­na­tive to cul­ti­vated greens. I like them wilted, sea­soned and served with but­ter and good olive oil. From Fe­bru­ary to late April, use gloved hands to pick only the tips, the most ten­der suc­cu­lent bit. Gill Meller, River Cot­tage, Axmin­ster Asafoetida When cooked it per­fectly em­u­lates the smell and flavour of onion and gar­lic fried in but­ter; paired with fenu­greek, it makes the big­gest su­per­charged in­gre­di­ent. Par­tic­u­larly good with any lack­lus­tre, watery veg: cour­gette, mar­row, squash, leeks. Nisha Ka­tona, Mowgli’s Street Food, Manch­ester/Liver­pool Fish heads Very cheap, and pop­u­lar in pretty much ev­ery cul­ture around the world (ex­cept our own), which means that there are many recipes to try. And they work so well with Bri­tish cook­ing – great for roast­ing, and gar­nish­ing in a tra­di­tional man­ner. Richard Foster, Chiltern Fire­house, Lon­don Nu­tri­tional yeast Brings a real depth of flavour to any­thing you add it to. I usu­ally just toast it in a pan with some but­ter, then add to a chicken dish, for ex­am­ple

– it makes the chicken taste more meaty – a ragout or some me roasted mush­rooms. Tom Barnes, Ro­gan & Co, Cart­mel art­mel Brown rice miso Avail­able in su­per­mar­kets. I add it as a sea­son­ing to tomato pasta sauce or chicken broth. I’ll use it with soy to sea­son rice cooked in shi­itake mush­room broth for a quick meal af­ter work. Ol­lie Tem­ple­ton, Carousel, Lon­don


Ta­marind paste


Kombu seaweed

Tog­a­rashi Toga arashi

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