Of all the condiments in my fridge, fish sauce occupies a special place in my heart. Its brilliant ability to bump up the umami in a dish is remarkable, and what I love most is that a few drops go a long way. This week, it forms the basis of a spicy marinade for chicken and the sauce for roast aubergine and corn.
Roast aubergine with corn and shallots (pictured top)
Prep 20 min
Cook 55 min
2 medium Asian aubergines, cut in half lengthwise
2 corn cobs, husks removed
60ml extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt
1 tbsp sesame seeds
6 shallots, peeled and cut into thin rings
2 garlic cloves, grated
60ml black vinegar or rice vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp runny honey or maple syrup
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 green or red Thai chilli, thinly sliced, pith and seeds discarded if you prefer less heat
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves and stems
Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Line a baking sheet or tray with foil. Score the cut sides of the aubergine in a criss-cross pattern. Brush the aubergines and corn all over with half the olive oil, season lightly with salt, and roast for 25-30 minutes, until the aubergine is golden brown, then transfer the aubergine halves to a plate.
Put the baking sheet with the corn back in the oven, this time on the top shelf, turn on the grill and cook, turning regularly, for five or six minutes, until the corn starts to char. Remove and leave to cool. Once the cobs are cool enough to handle, cut off the kernels and scatter over the aubergines.
In a medium saucepan, heat the remaining two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, then add the sesame seeds and cook for just 30 to 45 seconds, until they start to brown and turn fragrant. Stir in the shallots, saute for six to eight minutes, until golden brown, then add the garlic and cook for 30-45 seconds, until fragrant. Season with salt, then scatter the shallot mix over the top of the the aubergine and corn.
Mix the vinegar, soy, sesame oil, honey, fish sauce, black pepper and chilli in a small bowl, then season with salt to taste. Drizzle two or three tablespoons of the dressing over the roast vegetables and serve warm, sprinkled with the coriander and with the rest of the dressing on the side.
Chicken with sambal and green beans
Prep 20 min
Marinate 1 hr+
Cook 45 min
2 tbsp grapeseed or neutral oil, plus 2 tbsp extra for the marinade
4 chicken thighs (about 910g total weight ), bone-in and skin-on
2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
227g green beans, trimmed and cut into 2½cm pieces
½tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped chives
For the marinade
60g sambal oelek
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp red chilli flakes
Fine sea salt
In a large bowl or ziplock bag, mix all the marinade ingredients with two tablespoons of the oil and a teaspoon of salt.
Pat the chicken dry with kitchen towel. Cut three or four deep gashes into the skin side of the chicken, put in the marinade, toss to coat, then refrigerate for at least an hour and at most four hours.
When you’re ready to cook, put a tablespoon of the oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chicken and its marinade, cover and leave to cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through; if at any point the liquid in the pan starts to dry out, add a few tablespoons of water – the final consistency should be a thick sauce that coats the chicken.
Transfer the cooked chicken and sauce to a bowl, wipe out the saucepan and return to a medium-high heat. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil, then saute the shallots for four to five minutes,until they start to brown. Add the green beans and saute for three or four minutes, until tender and bright green. Return the chicken and sauce to the pan, fold to combine, then season to taste. Take off the heat, garnish with chives and serve warm.