Yotam Ottolenghi’s seafood recipes | Life and style

Seafood releases its flavour very swiftly, so is ideal for cooking with grains – pasta, barley, bulgur, rice – because the timings for both the protein and starch are roughly the same. We’re all familiar with boiling grains and serving them with a rich sauce or stew on top, but there’s a lot to be said for cooking them in the sauce itself, so the grains soak up the richness and, in the process, thicken the liquid. Today I have two such stews, plus a quick fritter for when you don’t want to wait.

Mussels and barley with caraway and watercress (pictured above)

This bowl of goodness is somewhere between a stew and a soup. It’s light enough for a summer supper, but also warming when the temperature drops. Serve in the pot at the table.

Prep 5 min
Cook 1 hr 10 min
Serves 4

1 large head of garlic, top fifth cut off to expose the bulbs
80ml olive oil
Salt and black pepper
300g pearl barley
3 banana shallots, peeled and finely sliced
2 tsp caraway seeds
1 lemon – finely shave off 5 strips of peel, then cut into wedges, to serve
½ scotch bonnet chilli
400g cherry tomatoes
1½ tbsp tomato paste
250ml dry white wine
800g mussels
60ml double cream
50g watercress

Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas 6. Take two cloves from the garlic head and peel and thinly slice them. Drizzle a teaspoon of oil over the rest of the head, and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Wrap the head tightly in foil and roast for 40 minutes, until the cloves have softened and turned golden brown. Remove the foil and, when the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze out the cloves and discard the skin.

Meanwhile, put the barley in a medium saucepan with plenty of cold water and put on a medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes, until the barley is semi-cooked but still has a good bite to it, then drain.

Put a large saucepan on a medium heat with the remaining 75ml oil, the raw and cooked garlic, shallots, caraway seeds, lemon peel, scotch bonnet and two and a half teaspoons of salt. Fry gently for 10-12 minutes, stirring often, until the shallots are soft and golden brown (turn down the heat if they start colouring too quickly). Add the tomatoes and tomato paste, and cook for eight minutes, until the tomatoes start to break down. Add the wine, 750ml cold water and plenty of pepper, bring to a simmer and cook for seven minutes. Add the barley and cook for eight minutes more, until it has swollen a little in the sauce.

Turn up the heat to medium-high, add the mussels, cover the pan and cook until they open – anywhere between three and six minutes.

Pour over the cream, add the watercress and plenty of pepper, and gently stir everything together. Serve hot with the lemon wedges.

Spicy squid and giant couscous stew

Yotam Ottolenghi’s spicy squid and giant couscous stew.



Yotam Ottolenghi’s spicy squid and giant couscous stew. Photograph: Louise Hagger for the Guardian

This dish has just enough sauce and couscous to serve without side dishes. Giant couscous is widely available, but if you can’t get hold of it, use a small pasta such as fregola or orzo instead.

Prep 15 min
Cook 55 min
Serves 4

350g cherry tomatoes
65ml olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tsp caraway seeds, lightly crushed in a mortar
1 tsp tomato paste
1kg squid tubes, cleaned and cut into 1.5cm rounds
100ml dry white wine
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
20g coriander leaves (about 2 tbsp), roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
100g giant couscous
2 tsp rose harissa
1 small shallot, peeled and finely chopped
½ tbsp cider vinegar
70g pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1 tbsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed in a mortar
1 tsp grated lemon zest

Toss the cherry tomatoes in a teaspoon of oil, to coat. Put a large saute pan on a high heat and, once very hot, add the tomatoes and fry, stirring gently, for five minutes, until their skins are charred and blistered. Transfer to a plate and wipe the pan clean.

Turn the heat to medium-high, add two tablespoons of oil and the onion to the same pan, and cook until softened and lightly browned – about seven minutes. Add the garlic, caraway and tomato paste, and cook, stirring, for a minute, until fragrant. Add the squid and wine, cook for seven minutes, then stir in the sugar, tinned tomatoes, three-quarters of the fresh coriander, a teaspoon and three-quarters of salt and a good grind of pepper. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes.

Stir in the couscous and cook for 12 minutes, until the couscous is cooked through and the squid is tender, then stir in the harissa and charred tomatoes and cook for two minutes more, to heat through.

While the couscous is cooking, put the shallots, vinegar and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt in a bowl, leave to pickle for 15 minutes, then stir in the olives and remaining fresh coriander. Heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil in a small frying pan on medium-high heat, and fry the coriander seeds for two minutes, until fragrant. Tip into the pickle mixture and stir to combine.

Transfer the stew to a deep serving platter, spoon over the shallot and olive mixture, sprinkle with the lemon zest and serve.

Prawn and corn fritters

Yotam Ottolenghi’s prawn and sweetcorn fritters.



Yotam Ottolenghi’s prawn and sweetcorn fritters. Photograph: Louise Hagger for the Guardian

These work in many contexts: with poached eggs for brunch, say, or with a side salad for a light lunch or dinner. You could even turn them into a canapé by making them a third of the size. Makes 12 fritters, to serve as a starter or snack.

Prep 5 min
Cook 15 min
Serves 6 as a starter

350g peeled raw king prawns
140g sweetcorn, fresh or frozen and defrosted
¼ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp chilli flakes
10g coriander leaves (about 2½ tbsp), roughly chopped
1 large egg, beaten
2 limes – zest finely grated, to get 2 tsp, then cut into wedges, to serve
Salt
3 tbsp vegetable oil

Put the prawns and sweetcorn in the bowl of a food processor and give them a quick single pulse, to break them up just a little. Add the spices, coriander, egg, lime zest and a third of a teaspoon of salt, and pulse a few more times until the prawns are roughly broken and the ingredients are mixed together but not turned into a paste. Spoon into a bowl.

Heat the oil in a medium frying pan on a medium-high flame. Once hot, use two dessertspoons to shape half the prawn mixture into six fritters (or more, if making canapés), then drop them into the hot oil and flatten slightly so they’re about 2cm thick. Fry for two minutes on each side (or one minute if making canapé-sized versions), then transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining prawn mix, and serve warm with a sprinkle of salt and the wedges of lime.

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