If you missed Jay Rayner in the Observer on Sunday he was reviewing the Modern Pantry, Anna Hanson’s fusion restaurant in Clerkenwell. I’d never heard of the Modern Pantry until earlier this month when the cookery book of the same name landed on my mat. I was blown away.
It’s a book full of adventurous dishes and unusual ingredients; smoky roast poussins with tahini, orange and soy dressing; lemon grass braised cherry tomatoes; feta date and sweetcorn fritters; honey roast pear, chestnut and oat crumble. After Niki Segnit’s Flavour Thesaurus, this is fast becoming my cook book of the year.
It was Peter Gordon a Kiwi who brought fusion food to Britain, bringing together what seemed like a disparate collection of exotic ingredients and making something wonderful. But as Jay Rayner pointed out, fusion spelled disaster in less talented hands. Hansen is a disciple of Gordon. She worked at the Sugar Club and was a founding member of his next restaurant, Providores and if her book is anything to go buy she cooks brilliantly.
There are some unusual combinations. I haven’t yet tried her signature dish of sugar cured prawn omelette with smoked chilli sambal. It sounds weird. It sounds time consuming and it is, but I’m assured by my niece who has made it, that it’s fabulous and well worth the effort.
But not all recipes are so complicated. I went for something far simpler: Turkish menemen with sumac yoghurt, which is a dish of red peppers and tomatoes with fennel, mustard, cumin and chilli flakes, all cooked until melting then with eggs cracked into it and served with yoghurt mixed with with olive oil, sumac, garlic and lemon juice. Simple and lovely.