FResh herbs largely determine my cooking. Whether it’s parsley, cilantro, mint, chervil, or even the green part of green onions (which people tend to throw out), I love them all and add them to many of my dishes. They add another layer of flavor without compromising the main ingredient, and they freshen up every dish. These two recipes call for a lot of chopped herbs – don’t be afraid to use them generously.
Green tortilla with lemon tahini
Originating from Iraq, this dish is also known as AKA fishclose to my heart. As a child in Tel Aviv, I loved going to the little stalls for lunch, where Ija is served in fluffy pita bread, topped with fresh salad, tahini and some harissa.
to equip 10 minutes
cook 30 minutes
1 large onionPeeled and finely chopped
1 green pepperthin slices
100 grams fresh corianderLeaves picked and finely chopped
100 grams Flat leaf fresh parsleyLeaves picked and finely chopped
50 g fresh mintLeaves picked and finely chopped
30 grams green oniontrimmed and thinly sliced
6 large eggs
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1½ teaspoon sea salt
1 lemoncut into wedges for serving
Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan)/350°F/gas 4. Put 2 teaspoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat, add onion and pepper, and sauté for six to eight minutes, until onion is caramelized.
Put the chopped herbs and sliced green onions in a bowl, then break the eggs and add the caramelized onion mixture, ground cumin, salt and whisk to combine.
Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a 26 cm non-stick frying pan over medium-low heat, let the pan heat up for two minutes, then pour in the egg-green mixture and let it cook for four to five minutes. Transfer to the oven and let it cook for another 15 minutes, then remove the tortillas and slide them out onto a serving dish. Cut into portions and serve with lemon slices and tahini.
Fish kebab with preserved lemon and tzatziki
I’ve been making this dish for 15 years, maybe more, and the more we put it on the menu, it sells out pretty quickly. Unlike fish cakes, this kebab does not contain eggs, flour or breadcrumbs as binding elements, and people often wonder how they hold together. The secret is in the ‘slapping’ process used when mixing, so don’t be tempted to skip this step. Grill kebabs over charcoal for a great smoke, but they work well in a frying pan or skillet. Tzatziki add a clean element that goes perfectly with the strong flavors of kebabs. Hake works well here, but most white fish do the trick: the most important thing is that they are very fresh.
to equip 25 minutes
Cold 2 hours
cook 10 minutes
350 grams hake fillets (or other firm, whitefish), cut into 5mm dice
130 g white onionPeeled and chopped very fine
30 grams Flat leaf parsleyvery finely chopped,
30 grams coriander tree leavesvery finely chopped,
30 grams lemon destinyFinely chopped – we use the pulp as well as the skin
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ 1 teaspoon sea salt
10 ml olive oilPlus add-ons for grilling and drizzling
200 grams Cucumber
2 cloves garlic
250 grams Labneh (filtered yogurt)
juice of half a lemon
In a large bowl, combine the shredded fish, chopped herbs, and lemon juice. Add the spices, salt and olive oil and mix with your hands by holding the mixture and beating it over and over the sides of the bowl until it starts to come together (this will add elasticity and give the mixture a better texture once cooked). Shape into 50g cylindrical kebabs, then refrigerate for a few hours until firm.
Heat a frying pan (or preferably a charcoal grill). Rub the entire kebabs with olive oil, then grill for two to three minutes on each side, until set and cooked through.
For tzatziki, finely chop the cucumber and juice it to get rid of any excess liquid. Finely grate the garlic, put everything in a bowl and season with lemon juice and salt if necessary.
Serve the kebabs mixed with more oil and a generous amount of tzatziki.
These recipes are an edited excerpt 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