Fish soup with dried limes

Fish soups are great. There is nothing like tucking into a hearty full-flavoured broth on a cold winter day. Living as we do in Shepherd’s Bush there is an array of Middle Eastern food and spices. I love exploring the local stores like Damas Gate or Al-Abas and reading the food labels, there are so many unfamiliar tastes and delights on offer. One ingredient I was intrigued by was dried limes. Although I had read about them, I hadn’t cooked with them before. Now that I have, I am really looking forward to trying more Iranian cooking as they feature a lot as a key ingredient. Dried limes have a really distinct taste, they are quite tangy, sweet at the same time and the flavour goes really well with fish. I could imagine a lot of people might hate the taste of dried limes, but I love it. They give this soup a fantastic, fragrant and perfumy aroma (don’t be put off!) but be careful as a little goes a long way. I wouldn’t recommend eating any kind of fish soup, let alone one with dried limes at work as, from experience,  it smelt out the whole office! oops. It tasted good though!

Fish soup with dried limes

4 Tablespoons olive oil

1 large red onion, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, sliced finely

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3/4 teaspoon turmeric

1–2 dried limes, seeded, crushed and ground

1 x 400g tinned tomatoes

1 litre fish stock (make your own or use really good fresh fish stock)

1 teaspoon sugar

250g skinned white fish fillet, cut into 1cm slices

2 Tablespoons roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

sea salt and black pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and soften the onion, celery and garlic for 20–25 minutes. Once sweet and translucent, stir in the tumeric and dried limes, cook for 1 minute.

2. Add the fish stock, bring up to the boil and add sugar, salt and pepper.

3. Stir in the fish and parsley, simmer for 1 minute to poach the fish and serve.

(Recipe from Moro: The Cookbook (Ebury Press))

Three of the best cookbooks published in 2010

After reading the OFM’s 50 best cookbooks of all time, I was inspired to list three of my favourite. It is a shame to have so few as there have been a lot of great cookbooks published in 2010.

Every year, more and more cookbooks are being published—everyone speaks of how British food has in the past few years encountered a ‘rebirth’ or new lust for flavour. Since moving to the UK I have purchased countless numbers of cookbooks, they are just so varied and relatively well priced. Quadrille, a publisher I worship because they are the forefront of cookbook publishing, churning out amazingly laid out and beautifully produced cookbooks monthly, have come up with a really inspiring and genius series of new voices in food. I think this is a great idea and one that probably other publishers will get on the bandwagon of—promoting new and young foodies and giving any home cook a fresh take or perspective on food.

1. How I Cook by Skye Gyngell (Quadrille)

Skye Gyngell’s style of writing about food comes across so natural and genuine. She clearly knows her stuff in terms of taste and elegance. How I Cook is filled with straightforward recipes dependent on letting quality ingredients speak for themselves. My favourites are banana bread, slow-cooked lamb with artichokes, peas and mint, old-fashioned pancakes, and apple and green tomato pie. Chapter titles are related to meal times or meal occasions such as ‘special occasions’, ‘late night supper’ which gives the book an overall everyday cooking appeal.Whereas Skye’s other books could be seen as recipes for fancy special occasions, this book is more the paired-down little sister. A fantastic addition to the cookbook shelves, and I have to add that all of the baking recipes are to die for!

2. Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi (Ebury)

This choice is pretty much a clear winner. Yotam Ottolenghi is like the king of big and bold flavours. I think Yotam’s recipes are a bit like durian, you either love it or hate it. He must have a brilliant palate to come up with the ‘non-traditionalist’ flavour combinations. Who would have thought aubergine, mango and soba noodles would be so delicious? What’s more is that the whole book contains vegetarian recipes all inspired by a mix of diverse culinary cultures—all sides of the Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Asian. These cover a whole array of vegetables: the countless tasty treats that can come from the aubergine, salads that will make you think twice about calling salads ‘bland’, lentils and squashes. My favourite recipe hands-down has to be the green pancakes with lime butter.

3. Mexican Food: Made Simple by Thomasina Miers (Hodder & Stoughton)

Since winning MasterChef, Thomasina has made a huge success from her Wahaca restaurants. This cookbook is a gem for widening your repetoire of Mexican cooking. The introductory section is fully informative, detailing lots of facinating stuff about the many different kinds of chillies, beans and herbs used in Mexican cooking. I like the salsa recipes, they are so easy but are packed full of smoky or spicy flavours. The best discovery was the coconut ceviche, which was a highlight in terms of flavour sensations for the year of 2010! Dishes not only cover salsas, tacos, burritos and soups but they also include many slow-cooking main courses that are just plain mouth-watering—such as ‘meatballs de mehico’ and chicken and chorizo in an almond mole.