Ottolenghi’s NOPI Cookbook: 6 Exotic Ingredients You Need in Your Store Cupboard

Yotam Ottolenghi is famous for introducing a host of ingredients to British home cooks: pomegranate molasses; freekeh and za’atar to name a few. His new NOPI cookbook is no different, with Ramael Scully’s far Eastern heritage promising to fill our kitchen cupboards with even more exotic delicacies.

We asked Ottolenghi’s team to give us the lowdown on NOPI’s essential new ingredients. Welcome to your new set of pantry staples….

1. Tamarind - NOPI dishes love to make use of tamarind in a range of sweet and savoury dishes. It’s an ingredient which is really worth seeking out the ‘real deal’ – the actual block of tamarind from which you can easily make your own tamarind paste and water – rather than using the ready-made pastes. When making your own, tamarind brings a sweet, sour and fruity depth to a range of dishes. Buy it here.

Used in the following NOPI recipes: Baby squid with almonds tarator and lime relish, Sea bass and turmeric potatoes in rasam broth, Urid dhal puree with hot and sour aubergine, Spiced chickpea patties with coconut and curry leaf paste, Roasted pineapple with tamarind and chilli.

Tamarind Pulp Ottolenghi

2. Mirin This is an absolute pantry staple for Yotam and Scully. The sweet, viscous rice wine isn’t a hard-to-find ingredient but the difference between some supermarket-own brands and what you can buy from specialist shops is huge. Try to use one with as few ingredients added as possible. It should be made from rice, water and koji – a cultured rice used to spur fermentation. Brands with added preservatives and sugar or corn syrup should be avoided. Buy it here.

Used in the following NOPI recipes: French beans with freekeh and miso, Pan-fried mackerel with fresh coconut and peanut salad, Tuna skewers with coconut mochi cake, Smoked lamb cutlets with aubergine puree, White pepper-crusted lamb sweetbreads with pea puree, Roasted duck breast with hazelnut beer butter, red quinoa and mushrooms, Onglet steak with caramelized shitake ketchup and chargrilled cucumber, Roasted pork belly, Five-spiced tofu with steamed aubergines and cardamom passata.

Hon mirin, Takara Ottolenghi

3. Palm sugar This can be sold as small crystallized granules but NOPI dishes prefer to use the block form of palm sugar. It has a very deep and rich sweetness and is a staple ingredient in Indonesian cooking, coarsely grated into curries, sauces or in a number of sweet dishes. Buy it here.

Used in the following NOPI recipes: Chilli jam (seared scallops recipe), Sea bream with mango and papaya salad, Pan-fried mackerel with fresh coconut and peanut salad, Beef brisket croquettes with Asian coleslaw, Black rice with mango and coconut cream, Tapioca with coconut jam and caramelised rum bananas.

Gula jawa (palm sugar) Ottolenghi

4. Rice vinegar This is another ingredient where it’s really worth seeking out the ‘real deal’ rather than buying supermarket-own varieties, which we find can be slightly too acidic and vinegary. It’s another ingredient which is there in a lot of NOPI dishes, bringing a note which is sweet and sharp at once.

Used in the following NOPI recipes: Turbot with oyster mayo and cucumber salsa, Scallops with corn and merguez salsa, Pan-fried mackerel with fresh coconut and peanut salad, Tuna skewers with coconut mochi cake, Soft-shelled crab with sweet black pepper sauce, Smoked lamb cutlets with aubergine puree, White pepper-crusted lamb sweetbreads with pea puree, Twice-cooked baby chicken, Roasted duck breast with hazelnut beer butter, red quinoa and mushrooms, Roasted pork belly, Bourbon-glazed spare ribs with smoked corn salad, Five-spiced tofu with steamed aubergines and cardamom passata.

 

5. Valdespino sherry vinegar This cask-aged vinegar is one of Scully’s signature ingredients. It has a wonderfully sweet and complex taste which is rich and mature yet fruity and fresh all at once. It’s used in a lot of NOPI dressings, sauces and salads. Buy it here.

Used in the following NOPI recipes: Chargrilled asparagus with romesco sauce and apple balsamic, Baby carrots and mung beans with smoked labneh and crisp pitta, Three citrus salad with green chilli, Lentil and pickled shallot salad, Green salad with sumac, red onion and allspice, Steamed haddock with sesame bagna cauda and cavolo nero, Octopus and stir-fried kale with black olive and golden raisin salsa, Chicken pastilla, Onglet steak with caramelized shitake ketchup and chargrilled cucumber, Quails with burnt miso butterscotch, Corn cakes with beetroot and apple salad.

Valdespino sherry vinegar Ottolenghi

6. Miso paste Scully and Yotam love to use all kinds of miso in their cooking: white, brown and barley. It’s made from fermented soy beans and rice, wheat or barley. The flavour is both intensely sweet and savoury so it’s a great way of injecting lots of flavour into a dish.

Used in the following NOPI recipes: French beans with freekeh and miso, Soft-shelled crab with sweet black pepper sauce, White pepper-crusted lamb sweetbreads with pea puree, Roasted pork belly, Quails with burnt miso butterscotch.

 

Yotam Ottolenghi

Yotam is a chef, cookery writer and restaurant owner. Yotam spends much of his time creating and testing recipes for his column in the Guardian, on-going cookery books and programmes for television.

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