Yotam Ottolenghi’s fish recipes | Food (2024)

Yotam Ottolenghi recipes

From a Mexican-influenced cured gurnard to a simple supper of grilled sea bass, fish is a dish of dreams

Yotam Ottolenghi

Sat 2 Jun 2018 04.00 EDT

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Life’s dreary realities mean I don’t travel as much as I want to, so I let my imagination take me away instead. I recently went on a trip to Tulum in Mexico, sailing there on the pages of Hartwood, a beautiful cookbook from an equally beautiful restaurant that’s set in a jungle and just across from a beach. I’ve borrowed ideas from the book for today’s first two dishes – both cooking and eating them takes me just a fraction closer to Tulum.

Cod marinated in pepper and pumpkin seed salsa (pictured above)

This salsa pairs really well with all sorts of other things – roasted vegetables, grilled chicken or baked cubes of tofu, to name just a few – so double the amount if you like. It will keep in the fridge for two days.

Prep 35 min
Cook 45 min
Serves 4

2 red romano peppers, stalks and seeds discarded, roughly chopped
2 tomatoes, quartered and deseeded
1 red chilli, cut in half lengthways and deseeded
½ tsp chipotle chilli flakes (or smoked paprika)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
4 limes, zest finely grated and juiced, to get 3 tbsp of each
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
100g pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
600g sustainably sourced skinless and boneless cod, cut into four equal pieces
6 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
280g short-grain white rice
500ml chicken stock
5g coriander leaves, finely shredded

Put the first four ingredients in a food processor with one garlic clove, half the lime zest, a tablespoon of lime juice, half the ground coriander and cumin, and a teaspoon of salt. Blitz, then add the pumpkin seeds and blitz again to a coarse salsa.

Put the cod in a large bowl and season with a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Pour over half the salsa, and toss with your hands to coat the fish. Put the rest of the salsa in a bowl, to serve. Leave the cod to marinate while you cook the rice.

Heat the oven to 230C/450F/gas 8. On a high flame, heat two tablespoons of oil in a large, high-sided ovenproof saute pan for which you have a lid. Add the remaining two garlic cloves, the remaining ground coriander and cumin, the onion and a half-teaspoon of salt, and fry for six to eight minutes, stirring now and then, until dark golden brown. Stir in the rice, stock, 80ml water, the remaining two teaspoons of lime zest and a tablespoon of lime juice. Cover the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the rice is cooked. Don’t worry if it goes crisp at the bottom – this just adds to the texture and flavour.

About halfway through cooking the rice, coat the cod pieces with the remaining two tablespoons of oil and arrange on an oven tray lined with greaseproof paper. Bake for 10 minutes, until cooked through and beginning to crisp, then arrange the cod (and any juices on the tray) on top of the rice. Drizzle with the remaining lime juice, scatter over the coriander and serve with the remaining salsa on the side.

Cured gurnard with camomile and cucumber water

Gurnard is a sustainable fish with a subtle flavour that is elevated by the camomile and aromatic oil; red mullet would also work well. You’ll have some oil left over; it’s great over pasta or eggs.

Prep 15 min
Cure 2-3 hr
Cook 20 min
Serves 4 as a starter

For the cured gurnard
1 tbsp camomile tea (ie, from 2 teabags)
75g caster sugar
1 tbsp lime zest (ie, from 2 limes)
50g flaked sea salt
3-4 gurnard fillets, skinned and pin-boned

For the cucumber water
1 small cucumber (about 200g)
1 tbsp camomile tea (ie, from 2 teabags)
5g coriander leaves
2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
½ small garlic clove, peeled
50ml lime juice (ie, from 3 limes)

For the aromatics
60ml olive oil
½ red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
½ green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
1 large garlic clove, peeled and thinly sliced
2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into julienne strips
½ tsp coriander seeds, crushed
5g coriander stalks, cut into 4cm lengths

Blitz the first four ingredients for the cured fish in the small bowl of a food processor, then pour half the mixture into a container big enough to hold the fish in a single layer. Lay the fish on top, pour over the remaining cure, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for two to three hours.

Meanwhile, make the cucumber water. Cut off and set aside a quarter of the cucumber. Roughly chop the rest and put in a blender with all the other ingredients and a teaspoon of flaked salt. Blitz on high speed for a minute, until the cucumber has broken down completely, then pass through a fine-mesh sieve, leaving a clear, green liquid; discard the pulp.

Heat the oil for the aromatics in a medium pan on a medium flame, then gently fry the chillies, garlic, ginger and coriander seeds for five minutes, stirring every now and then, until the garlic is just starting to brown. Add the coriander stalks, fry for a minute or two more, until the garlic is a light golden brown and the chilli aromatic, then use a slotted spoon to transfer the solids to a plate and sprinkle with a little flaked salt. Reserve the oil.

Lift the gurnard from its cure, rinse well, then pat dry. With a very sharp knife, cut the fish against the grain into 5mm-thick slices (a bit like sashimi).

Cut the reserved cucumber in half and scoop out the watery centre. Finely cut the flesh into matchsticks, then divide between four shallow bowls. Pour over the cucumber water and top with slices of the gurnard. Pour a teaspoon of aromatic oil over each and finish with a scattering of the aromatics.

Grilled sea bass with crushed celeriac and fennel and pistachio salad

This is a simple supper for two, so double all the quantities if you want to feed more or want a more substantial portion.

Prep 25 min
Cook 50 min
Serves 2

1 medium celeriac, peeled and cut into 3cm cubes (550g net weight)
2½ tbsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper
2 anchovy fillets, drained and finely chopped
15g parsley, stalks and leaves finely chopped
1 small fennel bulb, cut into 1mm-thick slices (use a mandoline, ideally); reserve any fronds, to serve
3 lemons, 2 juiced, to get 60ml, the other cut into wedges, to serve
2 sustainably sourced, skin-on sea bass fillets, pin-boned and skin lightly scored on an angle three times
25g pistachios, lightly toasted and roughly chopped

Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas 6. In a bowl, toss the celeriac with two tablespoons of oil, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, then spread out on an oven tray lined with greaseproof paper. Roast for 30 minutes, until soft and golden, then transfer to a small saucepan. Roughly mash with a potato masher; you want some texture, so don’t over-mash. Stir through the anchovies and parsley, and keep warm until ready to serve.

In a medium bowl, mix the sliced fennel with two tablespoons of lemon juice and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt.

In a separate bowl, toss the fish fillets in the remaining two tablespoons of lemon juice and leave to marinate for five minutes.

Line a small, 28cm x 18cm roasting dish with foil. Turn the grill to its highest setting and place the rack close to the heat source.

Rub each fillet with three-quarters of a teaspoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt, then lay skin side up in the dish. Grill for about five minutes, until the flesh has turned white and the skin is crisp. (It’s a good idea to keep the oven door slightly ajar, so you can keep a close eye on the fish while it cooks.)

Mix the pistachios with the fennel, and arrange on two plates alongside a mound of the warm celeriac mash. Lay the sea bass fillets on top of the mash, garnish with fennel fronds and serve with a wedge of lemon.

  • Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay. Food assistant: Katy Gilhooly
  • The Marine Conservation Society’s Good Fish Guide is a handy tool to source environmentally sustainable fish. Generally, if fish – like British cod – has the Marine Stewardship Council’s blue fish symbol, stocks should be at a sustainable level.


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