The chef's latest cookbook, Simple, takes his signature, richly flavoured foods to an easy-to-execute level.
Despite the fact that Yotam Ottolenghi has a good half-dozen cookbooks under his belt—Jerusalem, Plenty and Sweet, to name a few—it's still a source of jubilation around this office when he launches another. He and his team seem to have a knack for building perfect recipes that just seem to magically work out, no matter who's doing the cooking—the result of which comes from countless hours of testing with his team in the UK. His latest, Simple, takes the Ottolenghi formula of rich, layered flavours, though there are very few complicated ingredients here. There are still a few "Ottolenghi pantry" suggestions to have on hand—sumac, pomegranate molasses—but those have gotten much easier to find since his first cookbook. (I picked up Sumac at my local Independent grocery store. It was President's Choice "Black Label," but still, it was PC.) He's shared a sneak peek at one of his recipes below—and I chose this one because of my affection for both the character of Bridget Jones, and the somewhat underrated third in the series. (Don't get me started on how bad the second one was. Let's just assume it was only Bridget Jones's Diary and Bridget Jones's Baby and call it a day.)
Bridget Jones’s Pan-Fried Salmon with Pine Nut Salsa
Reprinted with permission from Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi, copyright© 2018
This is the dish Patrick Dempsey’s character tells Renée Zellweger’s Bridget Jones that he would have brought her on their imaginary second date in Bridget Jones’s Baby. “From Ottolenghi,” says Dempsey, “delicious and healthy!” And easy, we might add! What sounded like a bit of product placement on our part was in fact no such thing. The recipe didn’t even exist on our menu, so this is a retrospective acknowledgment. Serves four (halve the recipe if you’re on that second date).
¾ cup/100g currants 4 salmon fillets, skin on and pinbones removed (1 lb 2 oz/500g) 7 tbsp/100ml olive oil Salt and black pepper 4 medium celery stalks, cut into ½-inch/ 1cm dice (1¾ cups/ 180g), leaves removed but kept for garnish ¼ cup/30g pine nuts, roughly chopped ¼ cup/40g capers, plus 2 tbsp of their brine 1/3 cup/40g large green olives, pitted and cut into ½-inch/1cm dice (about 8) 1 good pinch (¼ tsp) of saffron threads, mixed with 1 tbsp hot water 1 cup/20g parsley, roughly chopped 1 lemon: finely zest to get 1 tsp, then juice to get 1 tsp
- Cover the currants with boiling water and set aside to soak for 20 minutes while you prep the salmon and make the salsa.
- Mix the salmon with 1 tbsp of the oil, a rounded ¼ tsp salt, and a good grind of pepper. Set aside while you make the salsa.
- Put 5 tbsp/75ml of the olive oil into a large sauté pan and place on a high heat. Add the celery and pine nuts and fry for 4–5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the nuts begin to brown (don’t take your eyes off them, as they can easily burn). Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the capers and their brine, the olives, saffron and its water, and a pinch of salt. Drain the currants and add these, along with the parsley, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Set aside.
- Put the remaining 1 tbsp of oil into a large frying pan and place over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the salmon fillets, skin side down, and fry for 3 minutes, until the skin is crisp. Decrease the heat to medium, then flip the fillets over and continue to fry for 2–4 minutes (depending on how much you like the salmon cooked). Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Arrange the salmon on four plates and spoon on the salsa. Scatter the celery leaves on top.