It’s no secret to anyone: I have a particular affection for Yotam Ottolenghi’s cuisine. I’ve been following this chef for many years and am always interested in his career. So, this week was like Christmas before time. I just received his brand new book, Saveur, in preview.
About the Authors
Although this chef is world renowned, maybe some will discover him today. So, if ever, Y. Ottolenghi: a chef, was born and raised in Israel, he moved later to England, where he heads several renowned restaurants. He is also the author of 8 books: the recipes are usually based on Oriental flavours and have a clear orientation for veggie cuisine in his last books [but not only]. And for this book, he has joined, for the first time, with Ixta Belfrage, a member of the Ottolenghi team with varied culinary influences, from his origins and life experiences in different countries [Italy, Brazil and Mexico mainly].
About the book
This new release is a logical continuation of the previous ones, where Y. Ottolenghi focused on vegetables [much and much more]. Attention, this does not mean that there are no animal-origin products in the recipes [although he often proposes a vegan alternative], but vegetables are king.
The book approach is quite innovative for me. The recipes are separated into three sections according to the approach method used in the product: “process,” “pairing,” and “product.” The “process” refers to the methods applied to transform the vegetable or a specific ingredient to extract the best from it. The four processes addressed in the book are roasting, browning, infusion and aging. The “pairing” is oriented toward the associations that will enhance the product’s unique qualities. To do this, do not forget the 4 fundamental pillars: sugar, fat, acidity and spiciness [the last one, the famous umami, is also discussed in the product section]. Finally, the “product” refers to the food’s natural properties, which give it its incredible flavours. This last section honours mushrooms, alliums [onion, garlic], and nuts/seeds.
The presentation of the different chapters is very interesting; between some chemistry and culinary basics, the authors teach us to reflect on creating a dish. I found it fascinating. Some things seem evident, and I even had to read them to realize.
About the recipes
Although we can find many of Ottolenghi’s signature elements, I felt some change in the style of the recipe, perhaps somehow less Oriental overall. Don’t worry; humus, zaatar and tahini are still there, but they are less present. We discovered new ingredients, and some of them will be more difficult to find, such as black garlic, black lime, or some varieties of peppers. Also, several Asian products will be necessary, such as miso, fish sauce, rice vinegar or Shaoxing [rice wine]. However, these can be easily found in supermarkets or Asian grocery stores.
I can’t wait to get on it, and I’ve already focused on the spicy mushroom lasagna. I know in advance that we will devour it! It will be on this weekend’s menu, and a little bird told me I should share this recipe with you soon.