Domini Kemp: high quality food with minimal prep

Two recipes that each involve just six ingredients

Domini Kemp’s Fiery Roast Cod. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Domini Kemp’s Fiery Roast Cod. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Whether it’s a business meeting or a new haircut, keeping things short certainly has its virtues, as long as you get the results you’re after.

And brevity is a quality particularly close to the heart of the busy home cook. Short shopping times, short prep times and, maybe best of all, short ingredients lists when you pick up that cookery book trying to find something for Sunday dinner.

At first glance, long ingredients lists can be off-putting, but I would always say that the real indicator of cooking time is found in the methodology section; if you want something quick and it takes more than a few short paragraphs to explain the ‘how to’, then best look elsewhere.

But a long ingredients list does not always mean a recipe is complicated or will have you tied to the stove for hours.

With much oriental cooking, for example, it can merely involve heaps of different spices that can be added at the same time. With a lot of my food, even if the list is a trifle long, the (very short) paragraph immediately following it will often offer instant relief: “Put in a blender/food processor and whizz.”

There’s no doubt, though, that a recipe with just five or six ingredients can hold much promise. Its success lies, of course, in the chemistry between those ingredients. Shorter recipes also leave poor-quality ingredients with nowhere to hide: if that piece of steak isn’t butter soft, you are surely going to notice. But when the chemistry works, it’s bliss.

So my two recipes this week are blessedly short, and all the better for it.

The first is for baked cod with a roasted pepper sauce with real fire in its belly thanks to a hit of chilli and garlic. And there are just six ingredients!

I went a bit too mad with the chilli, and so the young one wouldn’t eat it. But I didn’t make the same mistake the next time. This is a lovely dish and any firm-fleshed fish would be perfect for it.

The second is an Asian-inspired version of the classic Caesar salad – a long-time favourite in my house. This recipe has also got just six ingredients.

There is the all-important Cos lettuce, of course, and like the classic Caesar, the key is the dressing.

For this one, a few stalks of celery get blitzed with some white miso (dark is too strong), olive oil, garlic and mustard. This is also sensational with a simple roast chicken. I have my sister-in-law, Doris Choi, to thank for it.

Food cooked and styled by Domini Kemp and Gillian Fallon

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