Rachel Khoo, star of BBC’s The Little Paris Kitchen, has moved on from French cooking to share her favourite recipes from her travels…
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
- 4 whole trout (approx. 300g each), gutted and scaled
- 1½ unwaxed lemons
- Small bulb of fennel (250g), halved and finely sliced, keeping the leafy tops
- A large handful of roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 200g giant couscous
- 250g French green beans, trimmed and cut into 1cm rounds
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Sea salt
For the spice rub:
- 2 tbsp sumac
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- ½ tbsp ground ginger
- ½ tbsp ground cinnamon
“When it comes to spice rubs, I have some friends who guard their personal recipe the same way Coca-Cola guard theirs. I, however, am happy to share my special blend of spices. Making your own custom spice rub is probably the simplest way of adding your own personal touch to dishes. This recipe is really just a starting point and can be easily adapted to your taste. Once you get the hang of balancing the flavours, the possibilities are endless.”
Method: Preheat the grill to high. Blend the ingredients for the spice rub in a pestle and mortar. Smear the spice rub generously all over the outside and inside of the trout, then place on a foil-lined, lightly oiled baking tray. Thinly slice one of the lemons. Stuff the fennel, parsley and lemon slices inside the cavity of the fish. Place the fish under the grill. Grill for 5–10 minutes on one side, then turn the fish over and cook for a further 5 minutes on the other. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to the boil and add the giant couscous. Boil for 3 minutes, then add the French green beans. Cook for a further 2 minutes, or until al dente, and drain. Zest and juice the remaining ½ a lemon. Toss the beans with the oil, lemon zest and juice and a little salt. Serve each fish whole with the couscous on the side. Garnish with the leafy fennel tops.
Tip: This spice rub works well with all sorts of other things. Try spreading it on aubergine slices and drizzling with a little oil before grilling. It’s also a great rub for chicken.
Get ahead: Make the spice rub a few days before and keep in a sealed jar. You can easily double the quantity and store it to season other dishes.
SLOW-ROASTED PORK BELLY WITH SLOE GIN
“Slow-cooked pork belly has to be one of the most tender cuts, thanks to the rich layers of fat that sandwich the flesh. I like to offset the fattiness of the meat with something fresh and crunchy, which is where the iceberg wedge comes into play. Try this dish as a lighter and more summery take on the traditional roast belly of pork.”
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 3 1⁄2–4 hours
Marinating time: 4 hours or overnight
- 1kg piece boneless pork belly, skin scored and patted dry
- 1 tbsp sea salt flakes
- 4 red onions
- 1 head of iceberg lettuce
- 1 unwaxed lemon
- 200g thick Greek yoghurt
- A pinch each of sugar and sea salt
For the marinade:
- 150ml sloe gin
- 80g runny honey
- 2 tsp white pepper
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 200g redcurrants or mixed
- Berries (frozen is fine), plus a handful to garnish
Method: Mix the marinade ingredients in a shallow glass or ceramic dish. Place the pork in it carefully; making sure that the marinade doesn’t touch the skin. Leave uncovered and place in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight. When the marinating time is up, preheat the oven to 220°C (fan).
Pat the skin of the pork dry with kitchen towel. Place on a tray, setting the marinade to one side, and use a blow-dryer for 2– 3 minutes to remove all the excess moisture from the skin.
Rub the skin thoroughly with salt flakes, getting into the scoring. Peel the red onions, cut into quarters and place at the bottom of a roasting tin, then pour over the marinade and lay the pork belly skin side up on top.
Roast for 30 minutes, then turn the heat down to150°C and roast for 2½ –3 hours, or until very tender. Remove the pork from the oven. Take the onions out and set aside. Crank up the heat again to 220°C and place the pork back in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the skin is crispy.
Remove the pork from the oven. When cool enough to handle, separate the skin from the flesh. Slice the pork belly into slivers and chop the skin into small crouton-sized pieces.
Cut the lettuce into thick slices, then wash and dry (keeping them whole). Finely zest the lemon and mix into the Greek yoghurt with the sugar and salt. Add a squeeze of lemon juice.
To serve, place a large wedge of iceberg on a plate and top with the pork, onions, skin and berries. Drizzle with the yoghurt dressing
Tip: If you can’t get hold of sloe gin, use cassis or a light fruity red wine like Grenache.
Get ahead: Marinate the pork belly up to 2 days in advance.
PISTACHIO AND POMEGRANATE CAKE
“Turkish pastries, such as the intensely sweet and extremely sticky baklava, were nothing new to me; however, the pomegranate juice stands that cropped up on Istanbul’s street corners were a delightful discovery. The dark red juice makes for a refreshing drink, and although it’s a nightmare if you get it on your clothes, it’s perfect for colouring icing the natural way.”
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 50 minutes
For the sponge:
- 2 x 150g pots of natural yoghurt
- 100g pistachio kernels
- 1 x 150g yoghurt pot of caster sugar
- 1 x 150g yoghurt pot of sunflower oil
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 x 150g yoghurt pots of plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp sea salt
For the yoghurt icing:
- ½ a pomegranate
- 250g icing sugar
- 50g natural yoghurt
Equipment: 20cm springform tin, buttered and floured
Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan). Empty the contents of the yoghurt pots into a bowl, then wash and dry them ready to measure the remaining ingredients. You’ll need one for wet ingredients and one for dry ingredients.
Whizz the pistachios to a fine powder in a blender. Put the caster sugar and oil in a large bowl or standing mixer bowl, then mix together with an electric hand whisk or the whisk attachment for 2 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved. Gradually add the eggs and vanilla extract.
Fold in the yoghurt, then add the flour, baking powder, salt and ground pistachios and gently fold them in.
Spoon the batter into the tin. Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool.
When the cake is cool, place the pomegranate skin side up in your hand with your fingers spread out.
Hold the pomegranate just inside a big bowl before hitting the back of the fruit with a wooden spoon. The seeds will fall through the gaps between your fingers. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, then add the yoghurt and mix well to get a thick pouring consistency. Pour on top of the cooled cake, gently guiding it down the sides.
Once the icing has stopped dripping, take the pomegranate juice and dot several drops along the top of the cake. Drag a skewer or toothpick in a figure-of-eight pattern through the drips of pomegranate, swirling it all around the cake. Stick the pomegranate seeds to the side of the cake when the icing has stopped dripping.
If it’s difficult to make them stick, chill the cake for 10 minutes in the fridge first.