Aubergine lends itself brilliantly here as it is such a meaty vegetable that works perfectly with Asian flavours. Sandwiched between fluffy homemade bao buns and topped with pickled smashed cucumber, salty peanuts, and lots of coriander – these are so good, and you really won’t miss the meat.
Start by making your bao buns – in a large bowl, mix together the flour, caster sugar and Maldon Salt. In a small bowl or jug mix together 1 tbsp of warm water with the yeast and a pinch of sugar and then make a well in the flour and add the yeast mixture along with the milk, oil, rice vinegar and water. Mix to make a dough.
In a kitchen aid, knead the dough with the dough hook for 5 minutes until smooth and springy. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm, leaving it to prove until doubled in size.
Place the dough back into the kitchen aid and add the baking powder, kneading again for 5 minutes. Make into 18 balls of dough, rolling them in your hands and then placing onto a lightly oiled tray.
Roll them out with a rolling pin into an oval shape (makes roughly 18) and then use some oil and a chopstick to fold them into little envelopes. Place each one onto some baking parchment and leave to prove again until they double in size.
Once risen. Heat a steamer with some water at the bottom. Steam the buns on their sheets of parchment until puffed up and fluffy.
Before you steam the buns, make the aubergine filling. Mix together the miso, rice vinegar, agave and mirin in a small bowl. Cut the aubergine into chunks and toss well in the miso glaze. Place into the preheated oven and roast until soft, charred and sticky.
To make the pickled cucumber, cut the cucumber in half and then skin side up, bash the cucumber with the back of your knife so it breaks up on the board. Then roughly chop it into small pieces. Place in a bowl along with the garlic, rice vinegar, soy sauce, chilli oil, sugar, and sesame oil. Toss well so it is all coated and leave to infuse.
Serve the bao buns filled with the sticky aubergine, some of the smashed cucumbers, sliced radishes, chopped salted and roasted peanuts, sesame seed shichimi and coriander.
Want to know what gives a real fruity kick to your cake? Odysea’s preserved lemons are packed full of citrus flavours from the preserving of brine water & salt. The additions of honey and stem ginger will balance out this citrus cake, leaving you feel a certain warmth as the weather starts to cool down as we enter into the autumn season.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Thoroughly grease a Bundt tin and tap out with caster sugar. Set aside.
In a large bowl mix together the plain flour, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, and Maldon salt.
In a food processor, add the preserved lemon and stem ginger and blitz together until it forms a nearly smooth paste.
In a stand mixer, add the softened butter and sugar and beat together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Then add the honey, olive oil and preserved lemon ginger puree and beat again. Finally add the dry mix and fold through until fully incorporated and smooth.
Spoon into the prepared loaf tin and smooth over the top. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes until well risen, golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Garnish with lemon slices and a drizzle of lemon icing.
Of course we had to take part in the infamous TikTok trend of Baked Feta…The tangy, rich flavour of feta is perfect for a late summer treat with guests. Pairing up with Odysea, weused their delicious Flamed Roasted Red Peppers, giving a gentle sweetness as we slow bake the feta cheese. Don’t forget to add the Pomegranate Molasses either, as this will give the recipe the perfect sweet-and-sour tones to the savoury dish, almost acting like a balsamic.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
In a large baking tray place the block of feta in the middle. Then arrange the cherry tomatoes, shallot halves and sliced red peppers around the feta.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, garlic and herbs and then drizzle over the whole dish. Bake in the oven for 35 – 40 minutes until the feta is golden and the vegetable has softened. Remove from the oven and drizzle with pomegranate molasses and scatter with the pomegranate seeds and fresh oregano leaves. Add a pinch of Maldon Salt and serve with toasted sourdough bread.
Sweetcorn is sweet and nutty and one of my favourite vegetables. You can’t go wrong with a buttery corn on the cob in the summer but here I’m combining them with courgette and feta, to make the most delicious and moreish fritters. Topped with a crispy egg and a fragrant zhoug butter they make a seriously nice brunch.
Start by making the fritters – grate the courgette and then squeeze out any excess liquid in a tea towel, pop these into a large bowl. Add the sweetcorn, crumbled feta, chopped coriander, 1 beaten egg, self-raising flour and cumin seeds. Mix well to form a batter and season well.
Heat some oil in a pan and spoon in the fritter mix to make patties. Fry them for 3 minutes on each side until golden. Remove and place on a plate in the oven to keep warm.
To make the zhoug butter place chopped coriander, parsley, garlic and green chilli into a food processor. Add some cumin, a good pinch of Maldon Salt, lemon juice and olive oil and blitz until it forms a paste. Next add the softened butter and plenty of seasoning and blitz again. Set aside.
In a small frying pan heat some oil and fry off the eggs, you want the oil to be nice and hot so the edges of the egg go nice and crispy. Once the egg is nearly cooked, add some of the zhoug butter to the pan and baste the egg in it.
Plate up – serve 2 or 3 fritters piled up on a plate with a crispy fried egg and drizzle over the zhoug butter from the frying pan. Sprinkle over some coriander leaves and serve.
Start this recipe the day before you want to eat as the steak needs overnight brining. Up to 24 hours ahead is fine. You can also cook this steak in the oven and on the hob if you don’t have access to a barbecue.
When it comes to cooking the steak, you apply the same principles as below, but take the low part of the cooking in the oven – around 100C in a fan oven for as long as it takes to get to the temperature you are looking for. See the numbers you need within the recipe. The sear part can happen in a very very hot frying pan, just flipping and turning to get maximum Maillard reactions until it is cooked how you like to eat it. Again, whether to rest or not is a personal preference.
Begin by dry-brining the ribeyes. Please do it, it really makes the biggest difference (see more detail on why below) . Simply sprinkle Maldon Salt over both sides of the steaks, place on a rack set over a tray and slide into the fridge for 12-24 hours. The rack allows the air to circulate so the steak doesn’t swim in its own juices. Allow a good tablespoon or so of Maldon Salt per kilo of meat. Don’t cover the tray, you want the surface to dry out a little but do make sure the tray is on the bottom shelf of the fridge and not touching any other food.
When you are ready to cook, fire up your barbecue ready for slow indirect cooking, aiming for a gentle temperature of around 120°C.
Set the steak, always straight from the fridge, onto the grill bars far away from the fire, and shut the lid. Cook using very gentle convection heat, take the steak up to a temperature 10°C below the temperature you want to eat it at. A temperature probe is essential here. No need to turn or rotate, just let it very gently do its thing. It will look dry and unappetising at this point, never fear. The drying of the surface is going to work in your favour, allowing for the Maillard crust to build up during the sear.
Whilst the steak is having the low and slow treatment, get everything else ready.
To make the walnut and tarragon pesto, tip the walnuts into a small fireproof frying pan and toast over a medium heat on the hob for a couple of minutes. Add to a food processor along with the tarragon, garlic, olive oil and white wine vinegar and blend to a smooth paste. Season to taste with Maldon Salt and freshly ground black pepper and scoop into a bowl. Set aside.
Prepare the salad by chopping up the tomatoes and dividing onto a plates or a serving platter. Scatter over herbs and drizzle with a really generous glug of extra virgin olive oil. Season well with sprinkles of Maldon Salt to taste. Set aside at room temperature for maximum flavour.
Back to the steak – once it’s reached your chosen temperature you want get your barbecue really good and hot, so get those coals glowing red. I often start another little chimney of charcoal at this point if I feel it needs more heat. And get those bottom vents open wide – remember that more air means a hotter fire. Don’t worry about the top vents as you sear with the lid up.
When your fire is hot, get the steak directly on the hot grill bars over the fire. Sear it hot and fast, flipping every 30 seconds or so with the lid up. Every time you turn, try to place it back on a slightly different bit of the grill bars to get maximum heat.
Once the steak has a deep, mahogany brown crust on both sides and has reached your desired eating temperature, get it off and slice up to share, serving the salad and pesto alongside.
Top TipsBy Genevieve Taylor:
Brining is the number one trick to boost meat tenderness
Salt is amazing: a little water-soluble molecule (sodium chloride or NaCl if you’re a bit of a science nerd like me) that has the ability to amplify the flavour of everything. Salt makes things taste better – your roast pork more porky, your ribeye steak more beefy or your curry more deliciously spicy – but it also has rather more miraculous properties than just enhancing flavour.
All meat benefits from the application of salt to increase juiciness and I have got into the habit of salting, or brining, all my meat before I cook it, regardless of the cut or species. It is, however, especially effective when you want to cook the perfect steak. Good steak is a treat and it really pays to cook it as well as you can.
With dry-brining, when you sprinkle salt over meat it quickly draws out a little water from the muscle cells, creating a really concentrated salty brine on the surface. Over time this salty brine soaks back into the meat by a process called diffusion. Nature always wants to seek equilibrium – so the more salty outside diffuses into the less salty inside, doing its darnedest to make things equal. When you salt meat, it physically breaks the protein bonds that hold the muscle cells together in a tight bundle so over time the tight bundle becomes a much looser bundle. By disrupting the bonds between muscle fibres they cannot physically contract up as much once that meat hits the heat, so less of the water inside gets squeezed out. The result? Juicer meat with the flavour ramped up to the max.
How to dry-brine
Dry-brining is ridiculously easy and quick. Simply sprinkle Maldon Salt all over the meat and set the onto a rack hung over a tray, slide into the fridge, uncovered, and leave undisturbed while the salt does it magic. The rack allows air to circulate and prevents the meat from resting in its own juices. A rough rule of thumb is to use a level tablespoon of Maldon Salt per kilo of meat. I try to leave the meat brining for 12-24 hours as standard, but even a couple of hours is worth doing if you are short of time. There’s no need to wash the salt off after brining. In fact I would encourage you not to as the salt will have slightly dried out the surface and a dry surface results in more effective Maillard reactions.
Maillard reaction, and why we don’t want perfect grill bar marks
The Maillard, or browning, reaction is a chemical chain reaction sequence that creates hundreds of new flavour molecules. It is why steak with a glorious crisply seared crust will always taste infinitely better than steak that is floppy, pale and grey-looking. While we may have been led to believe that perfect grill bar marks on our steak are the end goal, if evidence of the Maillard reactions is shown by browning on the surface, it almost goes without saying that grill marks are 100% not the aim here. You are only allowing the browning reaction to happen where the marks are, all the unmarked bits don’t get the insane flavour boost Maillard gives you. The more browning, the more flavour and an evenly browned crusty outer is the goal rather than the neat parallel lines mirroring your grill bars. Constant turning and flipping your steaks over a very high heat is the way to get an even crust.
Why reverse sear?
I prefer to cook thick steaks to share; it’s easier to nail the internal temperature vs crust conundrum, i.e. max sear on the outside, minimal chance of overcooking the inside. And I like the spirit of generosity it’s served in; a sharing dish always feels like a more friendly way of eating, offering an edible gift to those I love. Sharing steaks are always best cooked used a brilliantly failsafe technique called ‘reverse sear’. The weight of steak is irrelevant as you are cooking to temperature and so this technique is identical whether you are cooking a 500-600g steak for two or a 1-1.2kg steak for four. You do need an instant read thermometer, such as a Thermapen, for this technique but they are such useful things for all meat cooking I think they are a worthwhile investment.
With the reverse sear technique you flip the traditional way of cooking steak on its head, so instead of searing hot and fast, then moving to a cooler spot to finish cooking, you start very cool and finish very, very hot indeed. The result is a steak cooked to equal perfection from the outside to the centre, with a glorious deep brown crust all over.
Heat energy from the fire of your barbecue excites the molecules on the outside of the steak and those molecules transfer the heat into the centre of the meat. By starting your cook very slowly that heat transfer happens evenly, so your steak will be the exact same temperature on the outside as it is in the middle. Call it the fire cook’s equivalent of sous vide, if you like. The danger with starting high and finishing cooler is that you overdo the outside while trying to get the inside done as you like it, so the outside layer of a steak can be dry and overcooked. Reverse sear gives you, the cook, the chance for gentle equilibrium from top to bottom, resulting in a juicer steak with a better crust.
What temperature to cook to?
Ribeye steaks have a generous nugget of tasty fat in the centre, and whilst I like rare steak, the ribeye is a good cut to take a little further, perhaps to medium rare or medium to render the fat melting and succulent. But by all means eat it rare if you prefer.
With the reverse sear method you cook the steak low and slow to 10C below the final eating temperature, then to sear it very hot and fast until you have the temperature you want to eat it at.
Follow these temperatures when cooking:
Rare – cook to 42C low and slow, then take to 52C with a hot and fast sear
Medium rare – 46c initially, then 56C to eat
Medium – 50C followed by 60C
Why I don’t bother to rest steak
I always prefer to cook steak to the temperature I want to each it at and eat it as quickly as possible after getting it off the grill. The reason being that meat carries on cooking once off the heat and resting, but the rate of carryover cooking is rather variable – is it a hot summers day, or rather cool and chilly, or a humid damp day? These things have a big impact on carryover cooking meaning it can be impossible to judge when to remove it from the grill. The good news is, with dry brining, I guarantee your steak will be juicy and succulent straight from the grill.
Buttery chilli roasted nuts dressed broccoli…I mean, it sounds as good as it tastes! The crunchy almonds and well-cooked broccoli are a perfect match. It’s great to put down on the table as part of a meal, or equally served as a main. I like to eat this with plain boiled brown rice, not very heavily seasoned, as all the flavour and punch come from the buttered almonds. It is also really quick to bring together if you are pressed for time.
Trim about 2-3cm off the tough woody end of the stalks and quarter the broccoli heads through the stalks. Heat the oil in a large frying or sauté pan with a lid. Or use a baking tray to cover. Place the broccoli, cut-side down, in the pan and sprinkle in a good pinch of Maldon Salt. Cover and cook for 5 minutes over a medium-high heat. Alternatively, roast the broccoli in the oven. Place on a baking tray and roast for 10-15 minutes at 220C.
When the broccoli has started to brown, turn on the other cut side and cook, covered, for a further 5 minutes or so.
Turn on the final floret side and cook, covered, for a further 5 minutes. A knife should easily pierce the stalks at this stage. If not keep cooking, rotating the sides until done. Remove the broccoli and set aside.
Wipe any excess oil from the pan with kitchen paper. Melt the butter in the pan until foaming. Add the almonds and cook, continuously stirring, over a medium heat for 5 minutes until golden. Add the parsley and chilli flakes and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Add a good sprinkle of Maldon Salt.
You can cut each broccoli segment into three or four smaller chunks, or leave as they are. Place in a bowl and spoon over most of the almond mix. Toss to coat well. Place on a platter and finish with the remaining buttery almond mix.
Whether you use a pestle and mortar in this recipe or a hand blender – Maldon Salt flakes will help grind down the herbs and butter into a beautiful paste. This is a big ratio of herbs to butter and that’s how I love it. You can add the garlic or leave it out, as chives give a nice hit of allium. If you can’t grind sorrel, add watercress or spinach and a gentle spritz of lemon. This is good with grilled chicken and also with simple barbecued vegetables.
Put the potatoes into cold water and add a half of the Maldon Salt. Boil for 10-15 minutes or until a knife can easily go through.
Meanwhile pound or blitz the herbs, butter, garlic (if using) and the remaining Maldon Salt. You will have this amazing emerald l-green buttery herb paste.
Drain the potatoes and dress in the buttery herbs while still hot. Serve immediately.
Squashing the chicken with a weight while cooked on a plancha or a cast iron pan is a Georgian technique, yet basting it with lots of honeyed and spiced kefir is my Ukrainian dad’s technique. It cooks rather quickly and is so delicious. Salting the chicken a little in advance ensures tender flesh and crispy skin. Watch the flames if you are cooking it over fire, they shouldn’t be too fierce, but a bit of char is of course welcome.
To spatchcock the chicken, simply cut along the backbone with some scissors or cut with a meat knife. Press on the breast to flatten it.
Rub 2/3rds of Maldon Salt into the chicken’s skin, then rub in the oil and leave for 15 minutes to an hour. If your chicken was in the fridge it should come to room temp in that time.
Mix the kefir with the rest of the Maldon Salt salt and paprika.
Heat the fire pit or barbecue or otherwise lightly oil a large cast iron frying pan or even an oiled baking tray which you can place on the bottom shelf of a 200C preheated oven.
Start cooking the chicken cut side down, for about 7 minutes, then turn the it skin-side down and place a pan and a weight on (be careful that this is all stable enough and does not collapse) and cook for about 10 minutes. Check that the skin is not becoming too black, if it is lower the flames (by pushing coals to the side if doing it over fire), and cook on cut side down under a weight for another 5 minutes. Your small chicken will likely need a further 5 under a weight and another 5 minutes when you baste the chicken with the kefir marinade.
To check that the chicken is done, pull away at the leg (it should pull away from the joint easily) and pierce the thigh and breast, then pressing on it to see if the juices run clear.
Serve with the green potatoes and a simple lettuce salad.
Pork and apple is a classic combination. Any variety of sharp apple will do here, but the red ones add a beautiful splash of colour to your kebabs.
Cut the pork steaks into 3cm (1 ¼ inch) cubes, dropping them into a mixing bowl as you go. Add the mustard, olive oil and a good pinch of Maldon Salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir well to coat the meat in the marinade, cover, then transfer to the fridge to marinate for 2 hours, or overnight if you have time.
When you are ready to cook, light the barbecue and set up the fire for direct cooking.
Chop the apples into quarters, remove the cores, then cut each piece in half – you should have 16 wedges. Add the apple to the pork and stir to coat in the marinade. Thread alternating pieces of pork and apple onto the skewers.
Once the barbecue is hot, lay the skewers onto the grill bars a little away from the fire – you want to cook over a moderate heat. Shut the lid and cook for 20 minutes, or until the pork is cooked through; the internal temperature should read 63c (145 F) for medium or 71c (160 F) for well done on a digital thermometer.
Serve with salad leaves and mustard on the side if you like.
Dredging clumps of crispy green beans through chilli sauce spiced mayonnaise is rather awonderful way to eat. This pairs well with a cold beer and friends. I like to pile the lightly coated green beans to encourage a bit of clumping. But do still cook in manageable batches. Draining each in-between piling on to a plate. Then you can tear away sections that way you eat form a perfect dredging apparatus.
In terms of adding chilli to the mayonnaise, play with your favourite sauce options. Gowith a hot sauce for a more vinegar led kick. For a spicy funk, try XO sauce or chilli rayu.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until fluffy with soft peaks. Whisk in the flour and sparkling water.
Heat the oil in a wide, deep pan until about 180C or when a little bit of batter fries well in contact with the oil.
Meanwhile mix together the chilli sauce and the mayonnaise.
Dredge the beans through the batter, allowing any excess to fall off. Gently lay the batter-covered beans in the pan, crisscrossing the beans to form tangled masses. Fry in batches for 3 minutes, turning once to cook evenly. Drain on kitchen paper and repeat until the beans are cooked. Add a generous pinch of Maldon Salt to each batch you make.
Arrange on a platter with the chilli mayonnaise in a deep dipping bowl. Take great pleasure in dredging chunks of green beans through the chilli mayonnaise.