A few months ago, I was in a bookshop browsing when a couple of women wandered in and started chatting about cookbooks. I am never one to shy away from a good bit of eavesdropping, especially when I might learn something, so I continued my (apparent) browsing, while listening in hard to what they were talking about. Karen Martini. How good her cookbooks are. How everything I have made out of this one (couldn't look to see which one) has been an absolute winner. How this pasta was so good. How my husband loves this dessert. On and on and on. As soon as the women moved on, I casually wandered over to the bookshelves and started thumbing through the Karen Martini books, trying to figure out which to buy. Eventually I decided on "Cooking At Home", bought it and then got distracted and it sat unused for a month or two.
Then last week, when I was having an "oh @#$% what in the hell will I make for lunch for 11 people?" moment, something prompted me to pull back out the sadly neglected Karen Martini book. I spotted a recipe I recognised from the stonesoup blog, Kibbeh-style ocean trout. And it was, in my opinion at least, sensational - no reflection on my cooking skills - it is served raw. Definitely unusual, but deliciously flavoured, easy to put together and needs to be prepared a couple of hours in advance. In other words it has every element for a perfect starter for a lunch or dinner party. Kibbeh is usually a meat and burghul dish, from the middle east, but it really works well with the raw fish instead. Karen Martini suggests that this may be the dish to tempt people who are nervous about eating raw fish as it is so more-ish. I think she might be right.
Kibbeh Style Ocean Trout
from "Cooking At Home" by Karen Martini
400g ocean trout, skin and bones removed and pulsed in a food processor to a medium fine paste
2 golden shallots finely chopped
150g coarse burghul, soaked in 185 ml hot water for 10 mins then squeezed to get out any excess water
3 tsps sumac
3 pinches allspice
1/2 clove garlic finely chopped
1 1/2 tsps salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper
1 large green chilli, seeded and finely chopped
2 large red chillies, seeded and finely chopped
finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
3tbl extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Chill a large ceramic or glass plate, then mix trout paste, shallots, burghul, spices, garlic, salt and pepper, chillies, lemon zest and juice, and oil until just combined. Press the mixture onto the chilled serving platter and cover with cling wrap. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Serve with finely chopped pickled vegetables and mint scattered on top and toasted lebanese bread to spread with the kibbeh.