In Greece, skordalia is often served with octopus. It is something I’m extremely fond of, however it involves a borderline-sickening amount of raw garlic. In this take I've stayed true to the flavours of skordalia, but varied the texture with potato chunks and I've taken the sting out of the raw garlic by treating it to some time in hot butter. If you can’t get your hands on nettle, any green leaf will do the trick.
The thought behind this was a sour-cream-and-chives-type vibe. I hope that is what you get – smoky, succulent leeks, crispy little chippies and wee pops of sweet and sour with the currants.
This was inspired by something my girlfriend and I encountered last year at a night market in Palermo, Sicily. There, spring onions were wrapped in either bacon or lamb intestines and grilled over burning coals. So simple, so delicious. Here, the mussels act as the protein, giving a similar texture and eating experience.
Love radishes, love pickles, love butter, love anchovies, love watercress. Squeeze it all onto a piece of grilled bread – I’d make extra butter to drizzle all over it – and have a cool beverage nearby to cleanse your salt- and umami-lined mouth.
The magic of cooking with fire is that it allows you to slow down and let all your senses interact with the process. You’re forced to be more intimate with the ingredients and the heat source that is transforming them.
Whether you’re watching with hawk eyes for the edges of your rosti to crisp, waiting for the aromas of a freshly charred chilli to infuse in warm oil, pressing the thigh of a saffron-butter-smothered chicken to monitor its progress or listening for just the right amount of sizzle as your crumpet batter is poured into the pan, there is a deep connection to be had with what you are cooking, eating and sharing with others.
These crumpets use a sourdough starter, which you can make from scratch if you don't have access to one. Simply mix 100ml flour and 100ml water in a jar and cover with a cloth so that bugs can’t contaminate it. Depending on how warm it is where you are, the mixture will become active after three to seven days, at which point it’s ready to go. It will become bubbly, have a pleasant, fruity type of smell and should taste slightly acidic. You’ll know if it has gone bad! There’s a wealth of great information online on how to maintain your starter once it’s active.
Making your own ramen noodles using a pasta machine is great if you have the time, but you can use bought dried ramen for this recipe too. As well as working perfectly with the ramen, the charred chili oil is also a great addition to fried eggs, stir fries and soups.