MARINATED MONSTER PRAWNS WITH PIL-PIL SAUCE
Mop these up with some really good bread.
“Gambas pil-pil is a dish that originates from the Basque region in Spain, consisting of prawns cooked with lots of garlic, chilli and olive oil, usually prepared in an earthenware dish and brought to the table still sizzling,” explains chef Josh Katzer, owner of Middle Eastern barbecue restaurant, Berber & Q.
“There’s not a lot wrong with any of the words in that sentence. Ask your fishmonger for the biggest prawns he can find. Make a statement. Avoid the tiny ones often used. And bread is obligatory. I say that a lot, but this time I really mean it.”
- 8 giant black tiger prawns, or any large prawns you can find, the bigger the better
- 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced or grated
- 1tbsp chopped dill
- 1tsp dried chilli flakes
- Salt and pepper
For the pil-pil sauce:
- 100ml olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/2tsp salt
- 1tsp cumin seeds, lightly toasted
- 1tsp ground coriander
- Pinch of cayenne
- 8-10 cherry tomatoes, quartered and deseeded
- 3tbsp Confit Chilli Salsa (see below)
For the Confit Chilli Salsa:
- 12 red chillis, stems trimmed and discarded
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- 5 large garlic cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- Olive oil, to cover
- 2tbsp lemon juice
- 2 basil leaves, finely sliced
- 2 slices of sourdough or ciabatta, lightly grilled on both sides (optional)
1. Make the Confit Chilli Salsa. Preheat the oven to 150C/Gas mark 2. Place the chillies in a deep baking dish, along with the herbs, garlic and bay leaves and add oil to cover. Tightly cover with foil and roast for 45 minutes to an hour, until the chillies have softened but not dried out. Remove and allow to cool. Then remove the chillies and chop finely, store in a kilner jar in oil for up to a week in the fridge.
2. Deshell the prawns, leaving the heads and tails on for aesthetic appeal. Use a small knife to create a slit and cut out the vein that runs down the back of each prawn. Season the prawns with salt and pepper, toss them in olive oil, garlic, dill and chilli flakes, and put in the refrigerator to marinate for two to four hours.
3. Make the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based (preferably cast-iron) frying pan and gently saute the garlic for two to three minutes, until softened and translucent but not coloured. Remove the garlic from the oil with a slotted spoon (be sure to take out all of it and don’t leave any stragglers behind) and transfer to a mortar and pestle, leaving the cooking oil in the pan. Add the salt, cumin seeds, ground coriander and cayenne to the garlic and work the mix until it forms a paste.
4. Return the pan and oil to the stovetop and warm over medium heat. Add the confit chilli salsa, cherry tomatoes and garlic mix, and cook for few minutes to heat through. Turn the heat down as low as it can go and let the sauce gently bubble away and intensify in flavour while you finish the prawns.
5. Set a barbecue up for direct grilling ensuring that you are cooking on hot embers. Set the prawns on the grill rack directly over the burning coals, turning once or twice to colour both sides well, until the prawns are cooked all the way through, about two to three minutes on each side depending on the strength of your fire. Alternatively, heat a cast-iron pan over high heat until smoking hot and grill the prawns until done.
6. While the prawns are grilling, have the pan with the pil-pil sauce set on the outer edges of the barbecue or grill to warm through.
7. Once cooked, transfer the prawns to the pan of pil-pil sauce and finish with the lemon juice. Garnish with the basil leaves and serve immediately. Some lightly grilled bread of any sort will be needed to mop up the pan juices.
BUTTERMILK CHICKEN SHISH KEBAB WITH QUICK LEMON PICKLE AND OREGANO
You’ll never want a takeout kebab again.
“Shish (or cis) kebab – skewered pieces of cubed meat – is commonplace to all the cuisines across the Levant and Middle East,” explains Josh Katz, founder of Middle Eastern barbecue joint, Berber & Q.
“Most chicken shish kebabs will use breast meat, which is lean but lacks the juiciness and flavour of thigh meat. I use thigh meat, but feel free to use whichever you prefer.”
- 100ml buttermilk
- 1/2tsp ground cumin
- 1/4tsp cayenne pepper
- 1tsp sweet paprika
- 1/4tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2tbsp garlic or olive oil
- 1tbsp hot red pepper paste (biber salcasi)
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1tsp salt
- 1/4tsp coarse ground black pepper
- 1/2 onion, sliced
- 8 chicken thighs, deboned, skinned and quartered
- 2 green peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks
- 2 red peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks
- 1 red onion, peeled and quartered
- 4 thin metal skewers, approximately 40-45cm long
To garnish and serve:
- Pitas or flatbread
- 2tbsp garlic or olive oil, plus extra to brush
- 1tbsp thinly sliced spring onion
- 1tbsp picked oregano leaves
- 12 confit garlic cloves
- 1tbsp Quick-preserved Lemon Pickle (zest of 3 lemons sliced into thin strips, cooked in the juice of the 3 lemons for 12-15 minutes until tender, then cooled – makes 30g)
- Garlic sauce
- Middle Eastern slaw (or standard coleslaw)
1. Make the buttermilk chicken shish. Put the buttermilk, spices, garlic, garlic oil, hot red pepper paste, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper and onion in a bowl and stir together to combine.
2. Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and massage the mixture into the chicken to ensure it’s evenly distributed and well coated. Cover the bowl and leave in the fridge for four to six hours or preferably overnight.
3. Skewer the chicken pieces intermittently with the red and green pepper and the red onion. Set a barbecue up for single-zone, direct grilling (this basically means you place your meat on the rack directly above a large bed of burning coals; open the bottom vents if your barbecue has them) – ensuring that you are cooking on medium-hot embers. Grill the skewers directly over the burning coals, turning frequently to ensure both sides are well coloured and the chicken is cooked all the way through when checked with a knife (or to an internal temperature of 70°C or above when probed with a thermometer).
4. Brush the pitas or flatbreads with a little olive oil mixed with a few drops of water, and warm through briefly on the grill. They can be placed directly on top of the skewers if there isn’t sufficient room in the barbecue.
5. Remove the pitas and transfer to a serving platter. Place the skewered chicken thighs atop, brushed with olive oil. Scatter the spring onion and oregano leaves liberally over the skewers, along with the confit garlic cloves and lemon pickle. This kebab is great served with garlic sauce, coleslaw and pickles of choice.
CAULIFLOWER SHAWARMA WITH POMEGRANATE, PINE NUTS AND ROSE
It’s not all about the meat at a barbecue.
“If there were a single dish – the dish – that has come to symbolise Berber & Q, a ‘signature’ so to speak, it would be our cauliflower shawarma,” says chef and owner Josh
Katz of the barbecue restaurant.
Here’s how to recreate it at home…
- 1 whole cauliflower
- For the shawarma spiced butter:
- 40g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1.5tbsp finely chopped coriander
- 1tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1tbsp ground sumac
- 1.5tsp ground cumin
- 1/2tsp ground allspice
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- Pinch of ground cardamom
- Salt and pepper
- 4tbsp Tahina Sauce (Pour 100g tahini paste into a bowl and add 1tbsp lemon juice and 1 minced garlic clove, gradually whisk in100ml iced water until the sauce is the consistency of honey – makes 220g)
- 1tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 1.5tbsp pine nuts, toasted
- 1 small green chilli, finely chopped
- 2tbsp pomegranate seeds
- 1tsp dried rose petals
- 1tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Extra virgin olive oil (optional)
1. Make the butter. Combine all the ingredients in a stand mixer and mix using the paddle attachment. In the absence of a mixer, whisk in a large bowl until thoroughly incorporated. The butter should be aerated, slightly stiff and one colour (as opposed to streaked). Set aside until needed. It can be kept in the fridge for several weeks, but must be brought to room temperature before being used.
2. Trim some of the outer cauliflower leaves, but leave some stragglers left behind – they taste delicious and look great when burnt and crisped. Set a large saucepan of salted water on high heat and cover with a lid so as to bring the water up to the boil. Once the water is boiling, gently lower the cauliflower into the pan, being careful not to let it drop from a height and thereby avoiding the potential of burning yourself with the splash-back of boiling water. Bring the water back to the boil, then turn the heat down to medium so the water has a gentle roll. The intention is to par-cook the cauliflower before finishing it in the oven or on the barbecue. It should be removed from the water when tender to a knife, yet retain some resistance – ‘al dente’, as they say. We’ve found it to take seven minutes from when the water comes back to the boil.
3. Set the cauliflower on a cooling rack over a roasting tray and allow to drip-dry. Brush liberally all over with the spiced butter, and where possible, try and get beneath the floret canopy to reach the inner sections. Retain some of the butter for brushing at a later stage. Season generously with salt and pepper.
4. Preheat the oven to its highest setting (240°C/220°C Fan/Gas mark 9) and blast the cauliflower for five to seven minutes, until blackened all over. (You want it to lightly char, not to form an acrid burnt crust.) Once sufficiently oven-roasted, transfer it to finish on the barbecue for a few minutes (if you have one going) for a final hit of smokiness, basting it periodically with any leftover butter.
5. Transfer to a serving plate. Spoon over the tahina sauce and pomegranate molasses, and finish by sprinkling over the pine nuts, green chilli, pomegranate seeds, rose petals and parsley. A drizzle of olive oil adds a nice glossy finish. Serve immediately – the cauliflower tastes so much better when hot.
Berber & Q by Josh Katz, photography by James Murphy, is published by Ebury Press, priced £25. Available May 31.