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A new Yotam Ottolenghi cookbook is always an event, and the vegetable-based Ottolenghi Flavor (Appetite by Random House, $45) is a winner.
Featuring 100-plus recipes, the Israeli-born London restaurateur’s new book begins with a chapter explaining his vegetable cuisine, and how he unlocks the flavours with sweetness, fat, something acidic and some heat from chilies or spices. Having whetted our appetites, Ottolenghi then expands on his four methods of bringing punch to a vegetable: charring in a grill pan; browning, a slightly gentler method; infusing, a combination of soaking and gentle heating; and aging, which is done with such products as Parmesan, anchovies and soy sauce.
As fans of these books well know, Ottolenghi’s recipes tend to have long lists of ingredients and can require special shopping. Believers don’t mind. Newcomers can take it easy with the simpler dishes, such as today’s salad. Its tahini, mirin and black sesame seeds can be found in most supermarkets.
1/4 cup (60 g / 60 mL) tahini
2 tablespoons (30 mL) soy sauce
4 1/2 teaspoons (22 mL) mirin or maple syrup
4 1/2 teaspoons (22 mL) rice vinegar
1 tablespoon (15 mL) water
2 to 3 cucumbers (4 cups / 1 L), cut up
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons (10 mL) rice vinegar
3 tablespoons (45 mL) fresh lime juice
Flaked sea salt
3 tablespoons (45 mL) sunflower oil
1 1/2 teaspoons (7 mL) black sesame seeds, lightly toasted
2 green onions, finely sliced on an angle
Dressing: Whisk together the tahini, soy sauce, mirin, vinegar and water until you have a very smooth sauce. Dressing may be made up to one week in advance and refrigerated. Stir to loosen, adding a little water if necessary.
Salad: Slice cucumbers into 3/4-inch (2 cm) pieces and put in a bowl. Add garlic, vinegar, lime juice and 1 tablespoon (15 mL) salt. Mix to combine, using your hands to lightly crush the cucumber.