FHerbs pretty much define my cooking. Whether it’s parsley, cilantro, mint, chervil, or even the green part of spring onions (which people tend to throw away), I love them all and add them to many of my dishes. They add another layer of flavor without compromising the main ingredient, refreshing every dish. Both of these recipes call for lots of chopped herbs – don’t be afraid to use them liberally.
Green tortilla with lemon tahini
Originally from Iraq, this dish, AKA eeja, Dear to my heart. When I was a kid in Tel Aviv, I loved going to little kiosks for lunch, where eeja was served in a soft pita topped with fresh salad, tahini and harissa.
Preparation 10 minutes
To cook 30 minutes
1 large onionpeeled and finely diced
1 green chilliminced
100g fresh corianderleaves picked and finely chopped
100g fresh flat-leaf parsleyleaves picked and finely chopped
50 grams fresh mintleaves picked and finely chopped
30g spring onionstrimmed and thinly sliced
6 large eggs
½ teaspoon of ground cumin
1½ tsp sea salt
1 lemonquartered, to serve
Heat the oven to 180 C (160 C fan)/350 F/Gas 4. Put two teaspoons of oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add the onion and chili, and sauté for six to eight minutes, until the onion is caramelized.
Put the chopped herbs and sliced spring onions in a bowl, then crack the eggs, add the caramelized onion mixture, ground cumin and salt, and whisk to combine.
Put a tablespoon of olive oil in a 26cm ovenproof non-stick skillet over medium-low heat, allow the pan to heat for two minutes, then pour in the green egg mixture and cook for four to five minutes. Transfer to the oven, bake another 15 minutes, then remove and slide the tortilla onto a serving platter. Cut into portions and serve with lemon wedges and tahini.
Fish skewers with candied lemon and tzatziki
I’ve been making this dish for 15 years, maybe more, and every time it’s on the menu, it sells out fast. Unlike fishcakes, these skewers don’t contain egg, flour, or breadcrumbs as binders, and people often wonder how they hold together. The secret is in the ‘snap’ process used when mixing, so don’t be tempted to skip this step. We grill our skewers over charcoal for a nice smoke, but they work great in a skillet or griddle. The tzatziki adds a clean element that pairs perfectly with the robust flavors of the skewers. Hake works great here, but most firm white fish will do: the most important thing is that it’s super fresh.
Preparation 25 minutes
Coldness 2 hours
To cook 10 minutes
For the skewers
350g hake fillets (or other firm white fish), cut into 5mm dice
130g white onionpeeled and very finely chopped
30g flat-leaf parsley leavesvery finely chopped
30g coriander leavesvery finely chopped
30g lemon confitfinely chopped – we use the pulp as well as the skin
¼ teaspoon of ground cumin
¼ ground coriander
¼ teaspoon of sea salt
10ml olive oilplus extra for grilling and basting
For the tzatziki
2 cloves garlic
250g labneh (strained yoghurt)
Juice of ½ lemon
Combine the diced fish, onion, chopped herbs and candied lemon in a large bowl. Add the spices, salt, and olive oil, and mix with your hands, grabbing the mixture and repeatedly banging it against the inside of the bowl until it starts to come together (this will add elasticity and will give the mixture a better texture when cooked). Form cylindrical skewers of 50 g, then refrigerate for a few hours, to firm up.
Heat a frying pan (or better yet, a charcoal grill). Brush the skewers with olive oil, then grill them for two to three minutes on each side, until firm and cooked through.
For the tzatziki, finely chop the cucumbers and squeeze them to remove any excess liquid. Finely grate the garlic, put everything in a bowl and season with lemon juice and salt, if necessary.
Serve the skewers drizzled with a little oil and a generous dollop of tzatziki.
These recipes are edited excerpts from Oren: A Personal Collection of Recipes and Stories From Tel Aviv, by Oded Oren, published by Hardie Grant at £26. To order a copy for £22.62, go to guardianbookshop.com