|Fish kofta in ancho chilli and tomato sauce|
Hardly a week goes by when this household does not cook up at least one, if not more, Ottolenghi inspired dishes.You are the man who by default was responsible for "sexing up vegetables."Caveat:you are-gasp!-not vegan.It is no secret that you–are a meat eater, however you credit the publishers restrictions of your original column "the new vegetarian" with aiding your meteoric rise to success. There really was no fabulous vegetarian food before you came along.Perhaps someone can now take a leaf out of your book and make dull new wave populist vegan food fabulous for us too.
You abandoned the word ‘vegetarian’ and just gave us wonderful food,you just omitted the meat and fish. It’s not about not having something in a dish. It’s not about what you omit or include, it’s just about celebrating vegetables as they are,and this is what you did. Your thinking was, ‘this wonderful dish would go with some pork chops’.It didn´t bother you.You have got a way with vegetables that makes even omnivores want them, and that to me is an even bigger coup.Recently you guaranteed us that we wouldn´t miss the dairy and eggs commonly used in doughnuts.Instead,you gave us a doughnut recipe with olive oil, which made them rich velvety and vegan amenable.And now I have to get onto the subject of your fish koftas.You have three inspired ways with these and they are all genius in their own right.Two with fresh white fish and one with canned fish.
In the first you have them swimming in a warm tomato chilli gravy,which has a bit of a kick eh boy.The second is spiced, citrusy and aromatic using canned fish, and in the third you serve them simply seared,finished in the oven and served up with a beetroot.What more can I say but I love them all.
Fish kofta in ancho chilli and tomato sauce
For the kofta
500g firm white fish (such as cod), boned and skinned
4 spring onions, finely chopped (60g net weight)
10g fresh fenel fronds, roughly chopped, plus extra picked leaves to serve
handful fresh coriander,chopped
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1½ tsp lemon zest
1 egg, beaten
30g panko breadcrumbs
3 tbsp olive oil
For the tomato sauce
15g dried ancho chilli (about 1½ chillies), stem removed
2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and roughly crushed
1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and roughly crushed
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped (150g)
60ml olive oil
1 green chilli, halved lengthways
1 tbsp tomato paste
3-4 plum tomatoes (400g), roughly grated and skins discarded (300g net weight)
300ml chicken or vegetable stock
2 tsp caster sugar
25g coriander, roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper
First, make the sauce. Put the ancho chilli in a small bowl, cover with plenty of boiling water, and leave to soften for 20 minutes. Drain, discard the liquid, roughly chop the chilli then put in a food processor with two-thirds of the fennel and cumin, all the garlic, onion and two tablespoons of oil, and blitz into a coarse paste.
Add the remaining two tablespoons of oil to a large saute pan on a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the ancho sauce, green chilli and tomato paste and cook for seven minutes, stirring often, until softened and fragrant. Add the grated tomatoes, stock, 200ml water, sugar, half the coriander, one and a quarter teaspoons of salt and a good grind of pepper, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes. Keep warm on a low heat until needed.
Meanwhile, make the kofta. Chop the fish by hand into roughly ½-1cm pieces. Put in a large bowl with the spring onion, dill, chilli, lemon zest, egg, panko,coriander, a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and mix well to combine. Form into 12 round fish cakes, roughly 6-7cm in diameter and about 55g in size. Make sure you press and compact them well, so they stay together when frying.
Add one and a half-tablespoons of oil to a large frying pan on a medium-high heat. Add half the kofta and fry for five minutes, flipping halfway, until deeply golden on both sides. Transfer to a plate, then repeat with the remaining oil and kofta.
Bring the sauce back to a simmer on a medium-high heat. Add the kofta, turn the heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside for about five minutes, top with the extra dill leaves and serve directly from the pan.
THE VERDICT:these are very rich but would make a delicious tapas item or sharing plate
Fish koftas in tomato and cardamom sauce
This dish,is inspired by a dish created by Moroccan Jews in Morocco.On first inspection, this dish looks like herb-flecked meatballs in tomato sauce, but the sauce is spiced, tangy and aromatic, and the meatballs are, well, fish balls, made of a combination of mackerel and sardines. Tinned sardines are used here, for ease, but you can obviously substitute with fresh sardines, scaled and boned. You'll also want to pay attention to the total weight or volume of the mackerel: Some types are larger than others. All work here, but you may not need to buy as many fillets. Serve with some couscous or rice and a spoonful of yogurt, if you like.
⅓ cup/75ml olive oil
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 green chilli peppers, such as serrano, finely sliced (and seeded if you don’t like heat)
2 large celery stalks, trimmed and finely chopped
1 banana shallot (or a large regular shallot), finely chopped
500g ripe vine tomatoes, blitzed in a food processor for one minute (or use two cups canned tomato puree)
3 Tbs tomato paste
2 Tbs granulated or caster sugar
1½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp lime zest, plus 1 Tbs lime juice (from one lime)
8 cardamom pods, crushed in a mortar and pestle, skins discarded (or use a scant ½ tsp ground cardamom)
3 cups plus 2 Tbs/200ml dry white wine
2 Tbs/5g finely chopped cilantro or coriander leaves, for serving
2 Tbs/5g finely chopped dill, for serving
For the fish koftas
4 mackerel fillets (from two 500g fish), skin and pin bones removed, flesh roughly chopped into 2cm pieces
150g drained tinned sardines in olive oil, roughly chopped
1 heaping Tbs/10g pistachios, roughly chopped
½ cup/10g loosely packed roughly chopped fresh dill
1 loosely packed cup/15g roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves (coriander leaves)
1 Tbs finely grated zest (from two limes); cut the zested limes into wedges or juice them, for serving
1 green chilli pepper (such as serrano), finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
5 Tbs/70g potato flour, divided
3 Tbs/50ml vegetable oil
1. Start with the sauce: In a large saute pan with a lid, heat olive oil, garlic, half the sliced chilli pepper and a good pinch of salt over medium-low heat. Gently fry for six minutes, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft and golden. Remove 2 Tbs of the oil (with some of the chilli and garlic) and set aside.
2. Add celery, shallot and 1½ tsp salt to the same pan and continue to cook for eight minutes, stirring often, until soft and translucent. Increase the heat to medium, add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, cumin, lime zest and juice and the cardamom and continue to cook for another five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the wine, 350ml water and ¼ tsp salt and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, turning the heat down if the sauce bubbles too much, and stirring once in a while.
3. While the sauce is simmering, make the fish koftas: Add fish, pistachios, herbs, lime zest, chilli and egg to a bowl with 3 Tbs potato flour and ⅛ tsp salt and mix together well. Grease your hands with a little oil and roll the mix into approximately 12 golf-sized balls (about 45g to 50g each), applying pressure to compact them as you go. Add the remaining 2 Tbs flour to a plate and roll each ball in the flour so they are coated.
4. Heat vegetable oil in a large, non-stick saucepan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the fish balls and cook for about five minutes, turning throughout until all sides are golden-brown and crisp. Remove the sauce from the heat and set aside if it finishes before you finish the koftas.
5. After the sauce has been cooking for 20 minutes, transfer the balls into the sauce, drizzling over some of the frying oil (or return the sauce to medium heat). Cover the pan with the lid and cook for four minutes, until hot.
6. Remove the lid and scatter the herbs and the remaining fresh chilli over the top, then drizzle with the reserved garlic and chilli oil. Serve hot, with lime juice added to taste, or with lime wedges alongside.