Some condiments – ketchup being a prime example – are not worth the bother of making at home, while others improve on the original by 100%. Sriracha falls into this second category. For some reason, I didn’t instantly take to Sriracha like everyone else as I picked up a weird garlic powder aftertaste (regardless of whether or not that ingredient was present) and it really put me off.
Over time I came to enjoy it more and it made me wonder what a homemade version would be like. Reader, it is stupendously good. I hadn’t realised before I made it that it’s a fermented product, which is odd. I’ve been a making a lot of fermented hot sauces recently but this one is probably my favourite. I can’t stop eating it, particularly with eggs but to be honest, you could slosh it on anything and be very happy. It’s hot, sweet, funky and pungent with garlic. I like to danger-dare myself to eat ever-increasing quantities.
Home Made Sriracha Recipe
Makes approx 1 litre
600g red chillies, stalks removed
10 garlic cloves, peeled
4 teaspoons sea salt
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
75g soft light brown sugar
75g caster sugar
Put the chillies, garlic, salt and sugar in a blender and whizz to a rough puree.
Pour into a sterilised jar or bowl and cover. Leave to ferment for 3 days, burping each day.
Blend again until very smooth. Add to a saucepan with the vinegar and fish sauce, bring to a simmer and simmer a few minutes, then pour into sterilised jars.
We wanted to preserve some of our huge bag of wild garlic for the coming months so we made wild garlic pesto (practically a law at the start of the season), wild garlic butter (brilliant with boiled eggs) and a batch of wild garlic kimchi. This recipe is one for those who enjoy a – *cough* – ‘powerfully flavoured’ kimchi. It does not pull any punches but that’s the way we like it – even with eggs at breakfast time.
The second recipe uses purple carrots and lots of ginger to make a pink-purple kimchi which looks fantastic and has a lovely sweet, hot flavour. We’ve been eating these in sandwiches (try this kimchi and cheese toastie recipe), in kimchi and corn fritters, with fish and vegetable rice bowls and just on its own as a snack. I also love my mate Lizzie’s idea of using it in fried rice. So many possibilities!
Wild Garlic Kimchi Recipe
Fills a 2 litre Kilner jar
1 Chinese cabbage, outer leaves removed and roughly chopped
1 mooli, peeled and grated
2 turnips, peeled and grated
50g of fine-grained salt
400g wild garlic thoroughly washed and roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
¼ cup Korean chilli flakes (gochugaru)
1 tbsp white miso
1 tbsp rice flour
Massage the salt into the cabbage, mooli, turnip and wild garlic in a large bowl until they start to weep juice (this takes around a minute or so), then cover with cold water. Place a plate on top to keep the veg below the water and leave somewhere fairly cool (no need to refrigerate) for 24 hours.
After this time, give the veg a good rinse. In a blender, blitz the garlic cloves, Korean chilli flakes, miso and flour until you have a paste. Mix with the veg.
Pack it into a 2 litre sterilised Kilner jar, pushing down firmly. If there isn’t enough juice to cover the kimchi add some water, then seal. You can either leave the clip open and tie an elastic band around it tightly so that the lid is tied shut but has enough room for some gas to escape or take the danger route which is to seal it fully and remember to burp it every day or so. If you’re particularly worried about this you can also now buy self-burping jars.
The kimchi will start to ferment after 2-3 days and will be ready to eat in a week or so.
Purple Carrot and Ginger Kimchi Recipe
Fills a 2 litre Kilner jar
1 Chinese cabbage, outer leaves removed and roughly chopped
6 purple carrots, peeled and finely sliced
1 mooli, peeled and finely sliced into strips
2 turnips, peeled and finely sliced
50g of fine-grained salt
20 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
3 inches ginger, peeled
½ cup Korean chilli flakes
4 tbsp rice koji (or 3tbsp white miso)
1 tbsp fish sauce
Massage the salt into the cabbage, carrots, mooli and turnip in a large bowl until they start to weep juice (this takes around a minute or so), then cover with cold water. Place a plate on top to keep the veg below the water and leave somewhere fairly cool (no need to refrigerate) for 24 hours.
After this time, give the veg a good rinse. In a blender, blitz the garlic cloves, ginger, Korean chilli flakes, koji (or miso) and fish sauce. Mix with the veg.
Pack it into a 2 litre sterilised Kilner jar, pushing down firmly. If there isn’t enough juice to cover the kimchi, add some water, then seal. You can either leave the clip open and tie an elastic band around it tightly so that the lid is tied shut but has enough room for some gas to escape or take the danger route which is to seal it fully and remember to burp it every day or so. If you’re particularly worried about this you can also now buy self-burping jars.
Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know I was in Belize in Central America a couple of weeks ago. I can’t write much about that trip now because it will all be published in a magazine later this year but I came back feeling very inspired by the food, and I wanted to create something which incorporated Caribbean ingredients. Longtime followers will know that the food of the Caribbean has always attracted me and I learnt lots in Belize, where the cuisine combines many culinary influences.
I’ve used achiote in this soup – an earthy flavouring made from ground annatto seeds, also popular as a colouring agent. I was already familiar with it as an ingredient in Mexican pork pibil recipes but using it to flavour soups and stews was new to me. I added it to a base of homemade fish stock with pierced scotch bonnet chilli and some cassava – a total revelation. To be honest, I’d always dismissed cassava as a boring starchy root but it has a really interesting nutty flavour and the texture of a very waxy potato.
I used cod cheeks because they’re really good value and hold their bouncy texture well in soup, and splashed out on some massive, meaty prawns. On the side, I made fry jacks, which are deep-fried dough dumplings served with pretty much anything in Belize – eggs, refried beans and cheese are all popular toppings. I’ve added wild garlic to mine, which brings me just about to the end of the bin bag of wild garlic I’ve been working through for the past week.
This is a stunner of a recipe (even if I do say so myself) with deep flavour from the fish stock but a lightness, too. The corn brings pops of sweetness and the scotch bonnet a background buzz of tropical heat. The jacks were a perfect accompaniment while still warm – crisp on the outside, fluffy and garlicky inside and ready to soak up that soup. Heaven.
Belizean Inspired Fish Soup with Wild Garlic Fry Jacks Recipe
For the fish stock
1kg fish heads and scraps
1.5 litres water
Small bunch parsley stalks
1 sprig thyme
1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
Large knob of butter
For the soup
600g cod cheeks
8 raw, shell-on king prawns (you could shell these if you want to make the eating easier but I like to get messy and suck the heads once cooked)
2 scotch bonnet chillies, pierced and left whole
300g cassava, peeled, woody core removed and diced
1 teaspoon achiote powder
Handful wild garlic leaves washed and sliced
2 corn cobs, kernels sliced off (or you could use a tin)
For the fry jacks
250g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
50g wild garlic leaves washed and finely chopped
Oil for deep frying
First, make the fish stock. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and fry the onion for a few minutes. Add the fish heads and scraps and fry a few minutes longer. Add the water, herbs and a pinch of salt and bring to the boil, skimming off the scum. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, then strain. This is the base of your soup.
Make the dough for your fry jacks by mixing the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and mix with your fingers until it resembles crumbs. Add the wild garlic and milk and mix to a dough. Knead 30 seconds until smooth, then separate into 8 balls.
Add the stock to a large saucepan. Mix a tablespoon or so of the stock with the achiote powder until you have a red paste. Add this back to the soup with the cassava chunks and allow to simmer while you make your fry jacks.
Heat a couple of inches of oil to 180C in a heavy cast iron skillet or another suitable pan. Roll each ball out into a circle on a lightly floured surface and cut each circle in half. Make a slit in the centre of each (see photo to see what I mean). Deep fry each piece for a couple of minutes, then carefully flip over. They’re ready when puffed and golden. Drain on kitchen paper.
Once the jacks are done, finish the soup by dropping in the corn, wild garlic, cod cheeks and prawns and cooking gently for 4-5 minutes. Season. Finish with the coriander and serve with the jacks.
I want to quickly share a recipe D cooked which made another dent in our bulging bin bag of wild garlic – a boned shoulder of lamb stuffed with the neverending leaves, crushed seaweed, lemon zest and pine nuts.
I’ve become more interested in cooking with seaweed since I wrote an article on the subject recently. It adds a lovely umami seasoning to lamb in particular and this recipe is a stunner – soft roast meat with a powerful filling which works well with potatoes, flatbreads or a grain like bulgur wheat on the side.
Shoulder of Lamb Stuffed with Wild Garlic, Seaweed and Pine Nuts Recipe
1.8kg shoulder of lamb (or thereabouts) – this is the weight with bone-in. Ask your butcher to bone it so it will lay flat on a surface and be rolled up again once stuffed.
For the stuffing
20g dried seaweed (we used wakame stems)
100g pine nuts
1 tablespoon sea salt flakes
1 tablespoon Urfa chilli flakes
Zest of 1 lemon
200g wild garlic washed and checked thoroughly for critters
2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Pulse all the stuffing ingredients together in a blender until you have a rough paste.
Place the lamb skin side down and smear the filling liberally across the meat. Roll it and tie it up with string, for roasting. There are proper methods for tieing it but we just made it work.
Put the lamb into a roasting tray, rub the skin with a bit of olive oil then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
Roast for one and a half hours or until it reaches an internal temperature of around 60C. If you want to crisp the skin further, finish under a hot grill for around 3-4 minutes (watching carefully).
We went foraging for wild garlic in London last weekend, stuffing two big bags with pungent green sprays. After sifting through for buds (now pickled), we found ourselves left with an entire binbag-full. It triggered flashbacks to the time we ended up with 34kg of spring onions.
So it’s wild garlic in everything. I’ve put it into my easy everyday flatbread recipe, smearing them with extra wild garlic butter while still warm from the skillet. D has made batches of wild garlic kimchi and wild garlic pesto, and we had wild garlic buttered soldiers with our eggs this morning (recommend). Yesterday I made the wild garlic and cheese börek recipe below, and I’m still staring down a half-full bag.
Here are the recipes for the wild garlic flatbreads and the börek – enjoy! You, too, could stink of garlic 24/7. Oh, and before you ask: I got the stuff in Mile End, not Camberwell. Sorry! I believe Dulwich Woods is full of it, though.
Wild Garlic Flatbread Recipe
Makes 8-12 depending on how large you want them.
500g strong white flour plus a little extra for dusting and mixing
2 teaspoons salt
30ml olive oil
300ml warm water
1 packet of instant yeast
150g wild garlic leaves, washed and chopped
Extra wild garlic chopped and mashed into butter is recommended for serving!
Mix everything together in a bowl and give it a knead on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes, until smooth and springy. You may need to add a little more than 500g flour (just a dusting), as the wild garlic adds moisture but just mix it together and see how you go. You want a nice, smooth, springy dough.
Leave the dough in a warm place for an hour or so until it has roughly doubled in size.
Knock back the dough and divide into 8 balls for larger breads or 12 for small.
Roll the dough balls flat and cook for 2-3 minutes in a properly hot, dry pan (I use a cast iron griddle) until a little charred on each side. They will start to puff up when ready. Keep them warm inside a clean tea towel while you cook the rest.
Wild Garlic and Cheese Börek Recipe
150g wild garlic leaves washed and chopped (don’t worry about them being *too* finely chopped as they will wilt and it’s nice to have some slightly larger bits I think)
200g white Turkish cheese (I bought ‘beyaz peynir’ which literally means ‘white cheese’ in the Turkish Food Centre but you could use feta if you don’t have a similar shop nearby)
1 packet yufka pastry (again I buy this in the Turkish Food Centre – you could use filo if you like but it will be a much crisper result as filo is thicker)
Around 100g butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
A sprinkle of za’atar and chilli to serve (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Mix the chopped wild garlic leaves well with the crumbled white cheese.
Have your melted butter ready, then lay out a double sheet of yufka on a work surface. Brush all over with butter. Lay another two sheets overlapping the edge on the right-hand side of the first sheets. Brush with butter. Repeat this four or 5 times (depends how much surface space you have, to be honest.
On the bottom edge of the sheets, make a long strip of the wild garlic and cheese mixture, as if you are making the largest spicy cigarette of your life. Carefully roll it up into a long sausage, brushing the edge at the top with a final layer of butter before sealing. Curl it around into a snail shape, then add to a cake tin, brushing again with butter (bit of a theme, the butter thing). Finally, give it a quick wash with the egg – this makes it nice and golden.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown. It tastes best when still slightly warm from the oven.
I’m very pleased to tell you I’m hosting a supper club at DVine Cellars for 2 nights only on 26th and 27th April. I’ve been thinking about doing supper clubs for years but never had the courage to take the plunge – until now! Teaming up with DVine Cellars wine bar means it makes sense to theme the events around different cuisines with matching wines, and we’re kicking off with Lebanon.
Regulars here will know that Lebanese cuisine features some of my favourite flavours, and I’ve put together a menu of what I consider to be classic dishes. We’ll kick off with meze, featuring my super smoky baba ganoush and sweet-sour muhammara, a dish I call Fancy Labneh which is a dish of extravagantly garnished strained yoghurt (with confit garlic, tomatoes and other bits), and the fluffiest hummus Beiruti.
After an interlude of tahini drenched wings topped with my own za’atar blend, it’ll be onto the main event: shawarma spiced lamb. Me? Spiced lamb? LOL, etc. It’ll come with lots of accompaniments including Lebanese rice, herby salad, my fermented chilli sauce, pickles including some stellar stuffed baby aubergines and – make sure to bring your breath mints – toum, which is a Lebanese garlic sauce of ferocious intensity that has to be experienced to be believed.
You’ll be stuffed but not too full to appreciate my wobbly, deep-filled custard tart served with rhubarb infused with rosewater followed by a couple of chocolate covered dates which will plug the only remaining holes within your stomach, thus completing my annihilation of your appetite.
Tickets cost £50 which is very good value but wait, there’s more. You’ll also get 4 x 125ml glasses of matched wines from the Beqaa valley in Lebanon! I know. Those wanting more can, of course, purchase that on the evening. It’s a wine bar, so you’re sorted for wine, beer and other bits.
I’m really excited about finally putting my food ‘out there’ and I’d be delighted if you guys can come along. Please see the link to buy tickets below – I’d love to meet you!
They’re called radiatori because they look like little radiators! I hope that pleases you as much as it does me. They’re also the perfect shape for grabbing onto a crumbly ‘sauce’ like this one, or a more traditional pesto. This smoosh of toasted walnuts, anchovies, breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley and lemon bound with olive oil makes a luxurious, wintry pasta sauce and also an excellent stuffing for fish on the BBQ – particularly mackerel.
I’ve served it on a swirl of fluffy ricotta (given a little more sharpness with natural yoghurt) so there’s a lovely hot-cold contrast going on and the cheese brings some creaminess. Serve with purple sprouting broccoli, chilli flakes and a flurry of Parmesan shavings for a pasta dish that will bust through any amount of miserable, drizzly weather.
Radiatori with Walnuts, Ricotta and Broccoli Recipe
Serves 2 very generously (i.e. greedily)
For the pesto
Makes enough for 6-8 servings of pasta (keep leftovers in a jar in the fridge, covered in olive oil)
200g walnuts, toasted in a dry pan
80g wholemeal breadcrumbs (or regular white crumbs)
4 cloves garlic
12 anchovy fillets
Handful parsley leaves
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
300g radiatori (I bought mine in Sainsbury’s!)
Large handful purple sprouting broccoli
Heaped tablespoon natural yoghurt
Make the pesto by blitzing the walnuts in a blender until finely chopped but stop before they turn to a powder/paste. Mix with the breadcrumbs. Bash the garlic and anchovies to a paste in a pestle and mortar and mix with the breadcrumbs, parsley and lemon juice. Add a slug of olive oil until you’ve got a pesto-ish mixture.
Cook the pasta until al dente, reserving a little pasta water. Cook the broccoli until al dente and drain – not long just a few minutes.
Gently whip the ricotta and yoghurt together and divide between two large bowls. When the pasta is cooked lob in as much ‘pesto’ as you like and stir with a little of the pasta water to loosen. Crumble extra ‘pesto’ on top. Serve on the ricotta with the broccoli, Parmesan and chilli flakes.
This recipe was produced as part of a paid partnership with fine wine merchant Millésima.
When I first met my boyfriend he lived in Paris. We would zip back and forth on the Eurostar like it was a fun game and I spent dizzying weekends zooming around the 18th arrondissement rummaging in markets and eating at tiny bistros where the menus were always the same. This was, ooh, seven years ago now? A few memories are salient: the tiny lift in his apartment which just about fit two people if you really breathed in; the cold marble steps leading up to the flat, which seemed glamorous and so Parisian, my stomach tingling; us mesmerising a child in the street with a large golden pig we bought in an Asian supermarket on a whim; me mortified after knocking a full glass of red wine into his lap while we ate at a bistro near Gare du Nord; running for the Eurostar because we decided to have just one more pastis and anyway the train doesn’t leave for half an hour…
I wish I could’ve bottled the magic of those weekends so I could give it a little sniff now and then; a hit of intoxicating nostalgia. We made this salad together in our London flat on a grey afternoon and he teased me because I’d unwittingly created a French bistro-style salad. To be honest, I just wanted duck and loved the idea of a pickled walnut dressing, which sings through the richness of the fat perfectly, much like the accompanying Pinot Noir.
A note on Millésima – because that’s why we’re here – which is a huge, Bordeaux-based fine wine merchant. With the aforementioned boyfriend working in wine, there’s generally no shortage of bottles in this house so I’ve never used an online merchant but basically, you pick a selection of six wines and they pack them up and send them to your door. At first, the choice can seem overwhelming, comprising as it does pretty much every posh wine in the world but they actually have a lot of reasonably priced bottles too, most of them cheaper than you’d expect in any UK wine shop. We ordered a few bottles of fun, everyday rosé from the Perrin family (of Beaucastel fame) and a couple of more interesting bottles, including Bruno Colin’s Santenay Vielle Vignes 2015, a Pinot Noir from the Cotes de Beaune in Southern Burgundy. It was perfect with the duck salad – very fine-grained tannins with excellent crunchy acidity and lots of perfumed dark red berried fruit.
I love the combination of bitter leaves, rugged garlic croutons, rich duck meat and spiky, sweet/acidic dressing. The boyfriend said it reminds him of a little of a salade gourmande which often has smoked duck and walnuts but I’m having none of it. This is less a hankering for a taste of French bistro days gone by, more a deep-seated love of pickled walnuts, which, I may add, are a traditional 18th Century English preparation. Whatever the story, this made a fine, boozy weekday lunch; a lot may have changed in the past seven years but we still love a glass of wine in the middle of the afternoon.
Duck and Endive Salad with Pickled Walnut Dressing Recipe
2 duck breasts (weighing around 230g each), skin scored lightly in a criss-cross pattern
250g stale sourdough bread, torn roughly into crouton-sized chunks
The cloves from a half a bulb of garlic, separated but unpeeled
2 pickled walnuts
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 shallot, cut into fine rings
2 red chicory, leaves separated
4 large handfuls watercress
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Place the sourdough chunks into a roasting tray and add the garlic, 3 tablespoons of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Mix well and cook for around 25 minutes, turning once, or until golden and crisp.
Place the shallot rings into a bowl of iced water.
Make the dressing by smooshing 3 cloves of the now-roasted garlic with a pinch of salt, the pickled walnuts, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon good red wine vinegar. Shake in a jar to emulsify (or use your preferred method).
Season the skin of the duck breasts and place them in a cold cast iron skillet or other heavy based pan. Turn the heat on low-medium and let them slowly heat up for 5 minutes or so. Turn the heat up to medium and cook for another 5 minutes then turn over and cook for a few minutes more. Cooking time will depend on the exact size and heat but this should give you crisp golden skin and pink flesh. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Mix the salad leaves with some of the dressing and the croutons and arrange on two plates. Arrange the duck slices and some of the shallot rings on top, then drizzle with a little more dressing and sprinkle with crunchy salt. You may feel like adding a further dribble of olive oil – I did.
Burnt leeks are having a moment. We’re now barbecuing this ‘boring’ and familiar vegetable in the style of the Catalonian calçot. Leek and potato soup? Forget it, pal.
While the outside is completely charred the insides collapse into buttery softness and you could finish them with lots of different toppings. A Spanish romesco sauce would still be lovely or some grated hard-boiled egg. Maybe bottarga? Crunchy breadcrumbs fried in the oil from a tin of anchovies would be very pleasing or spiced butter, hollandaise, a tahini dressing, miso… yeah lots of things.
The warm yoghurt sauce is not as weird as it sounds because its creamy-sharpness plays off the sweet leeks. I dotted it with some whizzed chipotles in adobo which I made as a base for a hot sauce I’ve been working on for a commission. That fires the whole thing off in a Mexican direction, particularly once garnished with oregano.
We’re coming into grilling season now and I suggest you get involved with grilled leeks because it couldn’t be easier: put them on the grill and take them off when they look f*cked. Simple.
Burnt Leeks with Warm Yoghurt Sauce and Chipotle Recipe
1 egg, lightly beaten
250g full-fat natural yoghurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
50ml hot water (hot from the tap)
2 chipotles in adobo – available online ready-made or I have a recipe for chipotle in adobo on the site here
Heat a barbecue for direct cooking.
When the flames have died down and the coals are covered in a thin layer of grey ash, place the leeks on the grill. Cook for around 10 minutes or so, turning until completely black and charred all over.
Mix together the yoghurt, egg and garlic in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the hot water. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and simmer gently over medium heat for around 5 minutes. Season.
Whizz the chipotles with a glug of olive oil to make a dressing.
When the leeks are ready, split them down their length and add the warm yoghurt sauce, chipotle dressing and oregano. Lovely served with this fresh flatbread recipe.
I’d been thinking about clams for days. Shells clacking against the bowl as they’re tossed through steaming pasta, starchy water dripping through the late February sunlight; their sweet meat like tiny treats to slurp from exploded hinges and their saline juices, mingled with the honk of garlic and chilli and the fermented depth of miso.
We made this riff on spaghetti alle vongole into a Friday lunchtime treat, threading tangles of crisp, salty agretti (monk’s beard) through the dish to bring freshness and colour. This Italian coastal plant is very popular on London menus at the moment and I couldn’t resist buying a bunch in Peckham’s General Store. It’s not the kind of vegetable I’ll buy often (too expensive) but the thought of it playing with the white miso and clams was too much for this hopeless ingredient spod to resist.
We ate it with a half bottle of chilled rosé hanging about in the fridge and plenty of bread to squidge into the clammy juices left over. It felt as good as a holiday.
Spaghetti with Agretti, Clams and White Miso Recipe
250g clams (I didn’t weigh them tbh but just grab a nice big load of clams from a fishmonger, a couple of handfuls per dish if you like)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons chilli flakes
1 heaped tablespoon white miso, mixed with a little of the pasta cooking water until dissolved
A large knob butter (don’t be shy, use about 25g)
Splash of white wine
Put the pasta on to cook in plenty of boiling, salted water.
You’ll need around 5 minutes or so for the next bit so when the pasta is around 5 minutes from being cooked, start the sauce. Melt the butter in a large, lidded frying pan with a small splash of olive oil. Add the crushed garlic and chilli flakes and cook out for a minute or so, stirring.
Add the clams and agretti, then turn up the heat to medium/high and splash in the white wine. Put a lid on and let them steam for around 4 minutes, or until all the clams have opened up.
Remove the lid and mix in the miso. Splash in a ladle of pasta water too, then drain the pasta and toss it all together. Serve immediately with good bread for those juices.