The other brilliant dish I tried from “Yotam Ottolenghi’s fusion feast” column in The Guardian.
After finishing the delightful mash-up of Sicilian aubergine caponata and Szechuan mapo tofu with the chili oil from his Cabbage with Ginger Cream recipe, this post is about the latter dish.
It seems a curious combination, but the ginger cream cheese and the Szechuan pepper-based “numbing” chili oil are well worth trying out this recipe. The cream cheese sufficiently subdues the pungency of the ginger, but vice versa, the ginger and lime juices alleviate (some of) the richness of the cream cheese. Consequently, it functions as an excellent pallet for the complex flavors from the chili oil, which are enhanced by the combination with soy sauce. The braised cabbage leaves, still ever so slightly crunchy, are a perfect combination with both.
For the chili oil
- 10 tbsp sunflower oil, divided
- 1 banana shallot, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 1cm / ½” piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
- 1 whole star anise
- ½ fresh red chili, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp red bell pepper flakes (I used the same amount of dried Aleppo peppers)
- 1 tsp chili flakes (I used the same amount of dried Aleppo peppers)
- 1½ tsp Szechuan peppercorns, roughly crushed
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1½ tsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp each black and white sesame seeds
- Heat 2 tbsp of the sunflower oil in a small saucepan on medium-high heat. Add the next 9 ingredients (including the salt), turn down the heat to medium and fry very gently for 5 minutes, often stirring, until the shallot is soft.
- Add the tomato paste and both types of sesame seeds, cook for another 2 minutes, then stir in the remaining sunflower oil.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer very gently for 20 minutes – if the oil starts to bubble at all, just take it off the heat for a minute – then leave to cool and infuse for at least 1 hour. Remove the star anise, and the oil is ready to use.
- If transferred to a (sterilized) jar with a lid, it should keep for about 2 weeks in your fridge. As the spices will sink to the bottom, you can easily siphon off the clear chili oil and dig in deeper to get to the spices if needed. Alternatively, give it a good stir if you want to combine them.