Never Failed Me Yet

Cooking with offal was once truly common sense. You slaughtered Francis (I’ve always wanted a pig called Francis) in the late autumn, and it was not just respectful to his memory but entirely necessary to your own survival that you used every single bit of his fat pink carcass; except for the oink, of course, which had in any case departed when you stuck him. With the help of salt and smoke and many hands, each part would be rendered gradually edible, for today, tomorrow, or for the long winter ahead. Most of us no longer live like this.

Some parts which come under the broad heading of offal are still truly waste; my butcher gives me heads and feet, hearts and scraps for free, as they would only be destined for landfill, and I’m more than happy to take the time and energy to transform these stubborn pieces of meat into something delicious. Others, perhaps, are making the slow transition from unwanted cut to delicacy; a pig only has two cheeks, after all, and if everybody realised how good they were they would be prized higher than fillet, with a price tag to match. Still other bits are so hard to get hold of that their consumption becomes more performative than practical, in which category I’d put blood.

Fresh blood is hard to find, but even in its dried form it is cheap, nutritious and delicious; if we no longer need to use it to thicken or to bind, or just as a handy, sausageable form of protein, it is still worth doing, both – I’ll admit – for the B-movie fun of it and for the elusive, rusty flavour. Perhaps, too, by keeping a taste for it alive, we prepare for a time when its fresh form is not treated as a poison but used and celebrated at its abundant source. This southern Italian recipe would once have been a part of the pig-killing festivities; now, almost black and with a fudgy, spoonable texture, it is simply a delicious thing to eat. You’ll need, I’m afraid, a reliable thermometer.

SANGUINACCIO

Makes six little cups

35g dried pig’s blood

100g lukewarm (blood temperature) water

100g light muscovado sugar

200g dark chocolate, chopped

100g olive oil (a lowish grade is fine)

100g double cream

Whisk the dried blood with the water and a pinch of salt until you have a smooth liquid, rather thicker than water; pinch a drop between your fingertips to check it has all dissolved, then add to all the other ingredients in a heatproof bowl.

Set this over a pan of simmering water, and stir the whole lot together while the sugar dissolves and then the chocolate melts; keep stirring until it reaches 67°C, and then immediately pour into a waiting jug and from there into your six little cups. Put in the fridge for a few hours to set.

Serve, if you like, with candied pine nuts, raisins and orange peel, or with more cream. Ask your diners to guess the secret ingredient, and then await their wrath.

With Relish

Despite repeated resolutions to the contrary, I don’t really use cookbooks. I own a lot, and I read them all and often look at the pictures; apart from a select few, covered in cake mix and butter and blood and tomato, which I know and love and trust, I don’t really follow their recipes. I think I do, though. “That sounds nice”, I say to myself on the sofa, “I’ll try making it sometime.” When that time comes, of course, I don’t have the book to hand – and if I did, I wouldn’t have half the ingredients – so I cook from memory, which is to say I make it up. Only after months of cooking a dish do I look back at the book at realise that my recipe has become something entirely other, related to the original book only in the manner of folk songs or language – tangentially, driftingly.

If, sometimes, this can be limiting – it means that you rarely stray outside your own idiom and technical comfort zone – then it can also be liberating. It is certainly convenient; few cookbooks are actually easy and pleasant to use for their intended purpose. Anyway, here is a recipe I remain convinced comes from Diana Henry, despite her original (itself an imagined version of a never-tasted Turkish dish) containing, it turns out, coriander (don’t much care for it) and green olives (totally forgot about them). That, I suppose, is how cooking works. Conveniently, this goes extremely well with octopus.

GREEN CHILLI RELISH

15 green chillies (or a mix of red and green), thinly sliced

6 cloves of garlic, crushed with salt

about a tbsp caster sugar

a slosh of sweet white vinegar

a big handful each of mint and parsley, chopped across a couple of times, to encourage them to join in

Mix together everything except the herbs, scrunching a bit to dissolve the sugar. Add the herbs and toss and scrunch some more. WASH YOUR HANDS. An hour or so hanging around mellows things out, but much longer and it’ll go a bit manky.

Rolo Pilaf

There is more to seasonality than the comings and goings of fickle vegetation. Alongside the inexorable march of the sun, our own petty customs and habits might seem small and insignificant, but they can have just as great an effect on the patterns of our diets. Some things, while not seasonal as such, are tied by temperature or texture to the weather outside – ice cream and granita, mashed potato and gravy – while others stake a place in one of our various religious calendars, which may be more or less related to the movements of the heavens.

 

Ramadan and its associate Eids are tied to the Islamic lunar calendar, for example; the daily cycle of fast and feast might take place in scorching heat or in autumn rains, which doesn’t seem to effect the consumption of harira and those little date things. Christian festivities, on the other hand, align suspiciously closely to pagan celebrations and thus to the seasons; at any rate, although they are marked at the same time each year, the food is not fantastically seasonal. You could eat a goose any damn time you choose, I suppose, and brassicas seem to grow at any time and any place; when we get to Mars, I suspect we will find that a small pernicious cabbage has go there first.

 

At any rate, this dish, traditionally consumed on the feast of St Valentine – after using most of the packet in cooking, the cook would offer her loved one “the last rolo” – has become, in recent decades, thoroughly associated with Easter, or rather, Yeaster, the Sunday after Holy Week. In the middle ages, Yeaster Sunday would start with a great slaughter of all the tame rabbits bought as Easter gifts, which were then cooked inside a brioche of tremendous proportions. Gradually, the practice died out, and households would instead hold a great feast of all the unconsumed chocolate in the pantry. It is this practice that has given us the chocolate mousse, the chocolate eclair, hare and chocolate ragu, chocolate mole, toad-in-the-hole, and Badger Surprise (the inspiration for the better known, and less surprising, Kinder). Whenever eaten, this dish is in itself a remarkable remnant of the fusion fad of Victorian Britain, which gave us kedgeree, ketchup and kumquat. A real taste of history.

 

ROLO PILAF

serves 4

CHOCOLATE STOCK – CHOCK

2kg chicken necks or coxcombs

4 onions, halved and then peeled

carrots and so on

at least 6 easter eggs in their wrapping

Place all the chock ingredients in a saucepan, cover with water, place the saucepan full of ingredients and water on a lit or otherwise operative hob, and leave for 6 hours. Strain.

ROLO PILAF

2 onions, fine dice

2 carrots, fine dice

2 sticks of celery, fine dice

12 cloves of garlic, minced

400g basmati rice (Tilda is best)

100g wild spaghetti, broken into 1-inch pieces

1l of chock (see above)

200g salted caramel spread (Bon Maman do a good one)

1 packet of rolos, the last removed, the rest julienned

lard

Melt some lard in a wide-bottomed pan, and cook the onion, carrot and celery until nicely softened and starting to colour. Wipe the garlic around the rim of the pan. When the edges start to sizzle, stir in the rice, counterclockwise, until each grain is vaguely translucent and fully coated in lard. Stir in the broken spaghetti (standard tree will do if you can’t find wild). Add the chock, bring to a boil, and let it bubble away until you can see holes start to appear. Put on a lid, turn the heat down and leave for 5 minutes. The rice should be cooked through and dry. Check for seasoning, remembering the salted caramel spread will be salty, then ripple it through and turn into a bowl. Pour the rice into another bowl, garnish with the julienned rolos, and let sit for 8 minutes before serving immediately. With a green crisp salad and a bottle of chocolate stout, this is a complete meal.

The Matter of the Heart

  
One man’s (or woman’s, or culture’s) offal is another man’s premium cut; these things are as much about demand as about supply. A beef fillet may be prized partly because there is only one of it, but its status, still, as an expensive piece of meat comes as much from its giving tenderness – a texture which, coming as it does at the expense of flavour, many (yes, myself included) find if not unpleasantly then at least indifferently soft – at least when raw or extremely rare. Overcook it, of course, and it will be as dry and grainy as a minute steak.

 

Premium cuts often follow a French ideal of quality, and as such are rated by their edibility when sanguine; the cheaper ends of animals, either fatty or sinewy, tend to need much longer cooking – This is one of the things which defines their cheapness, despite the fact that a slow-cooked piece of belly pork is infinitely more delicious than a tenderloin cooked any way at all – unless you’re talking really cheap, in which case, things having come full circle, a quick sear in a very hot pan is often the best course of action. These cuts – skirt, flatiron, whatever – have long been enjoyed as steaks by the French (at a bistro level, perhaps, rather than haute cuisine) but are only now making their way out of our mincers and diced mixed stewing steak and onto waiting coals. Not premium, perhaps, but no longer as cheap as they were.

 

Heart, though, and despite its uniqueness in the animal, is still very cheap – in fact, our butcher gave us one for free, along with the tongue, kidneys, and some scraps of skirt, when we bought some excellent veal chops from him. He had the whole bullock, you see, and they were only going in the pet mix. Well, when life gives you offal, make a Fergus Henderson recipe, that’s what I say; and it turns out quickly cooked calf heart is a wonderful thing. I’d only ever braised hearts before, which takes bloody hours. I had a willing commis to do the wibbly bits for me, but even if you don’t, preparing hearts is pretty straightforward, should a jolly butcher ever give you his.

 

Essentially, you want to remove from this strange, muscular organ anything which is not in fact muscle; the top is surrounded by hard, suety fat, which you trim off; inside there are tubes, which you cut out; slicing the heart lengthways and opening it like a book, you will find the heartstrings, which it turns out are both real and extremely strong. Cut them off at each end. When you have a more-or-less homogenous pound of flesh, cut it into steaks. There’ll be a couple of triangular flaps which can be sliced off as is; as for the rest, it depends on your needs and appetite. You’ll want, though, to cut the thicker sections lengthways, so that everything is roughly of a muchness.

 

Now, following Fergus, toss the steaks with a splash of vinegar, a good pinch each of salt and pepper, some oil, some rosemary or whatever seems appropriate. The vinegar, I think, performs vital tenderisation, but the herbs, I suppose, are fairly optional. Leave in the fridge til tomorrow.

 

Now, get an appropriately sized pan screaming hot, lightly oil it, and add your steaks, pushing down on them to discourage curling; season a bit more if you feel it necessary. Cook until you get a good brown crust, (say 2-3 minutes) then flip and cook a minute or so more. Remove to rest.

 

While it rests, shave some fennel and sweet white onion as thinly as your mandolin will allow you, then dress heavily in a lemon vinaigrette and finely chopped parsley. Slice the heart, which should be pink and gently weeping, and serve with a little fennel and onion. This is true love.

Cheek to Cheek

One of the best things about moving to coastal Suffolk (and working with a curious, conscientious fish supplier) is the real variety of seafood on offer. Up to last year I’d barely cooked more than mackerel, bass and bream, with the seasonal additions of mussels or sardines; now we regularly use sand soles, gurnard, cod and monkfish cheeks, octopus and clams, thick slices of dogfish or turbot, our own salted hake and ling. Not, of course, that these are all from round these parts – cephalapods might come from Cornwall, salmon from Scotland, while the vast shoals of herring which sustained Lowestoft and Yarmouth have moved on to other waters – but the interest which people have in seafood, and the extent to which it has formed part of the local cuisine, is always evident; there is, for example, a biennial herring festival in Halesworth – a small inland town on a trickle of a river.

People, as I think I’ve mentioned before, make a lot of fuss about cooking fish. The angst of a crispy skin & juicy flesh! Rick Stein, with his hot pokers and his face, only helps to obscure the point, which is that all you have to do to cook fish is cook it – until it’s cooked. Fish skin, like potatoes and totally unlike the muscle of land animals, has the capacity to be taken gently from cold to brown without suffering for it. Do that to a steak and you will have a weeping grey mass – you will be a weeping grey mass; do it to a neatly-trimmed fillet of good, fresh sea bream and you will have a perfectly cooked piece of fish which only needs a brief rest on its cut side before proceeding to the plate, with the added bonus that you can, in the intervening time, see exactly what is happening to that flaked white muscle. I’m repeating myself, however.

Browning seafood without that nice, protective skin, is to be fair, a slightly more difficult proposition – but that’s only to say it’s slightly more difficult than shooting sleepy sea urchins in a wide-topped bucket. In the case, say, of scallops or of cod cheeks, you should put on a frying pan, wide enough to take the seafood in a single layer with about a centimetre in between each piece, and leave it to get extremely hot – slightly hotter than you think is sensible. Make sure each cheeky little nugget is nice and dry. Add some oil, add some coarse sea salt, add the (for the sake of argument) cod cheeks, and then leave them where they are; leave them until they are pretty much cooked through, which you can tell by the pearlescent sheen and beads of moisture which appear on top of the cheeks. Flip each cheek, one by one, then take off the heat and add a spoon of butter. When it stops sizzling, they’re done. See! That was easy. Serve with a salsa verde AND some aioli, if you’re feeling frivolous. Very cold white wine, good bread and butter – dinner.

Cabbage-head


They’re funny things, brassicas, capable, depending on context, age and variety, of Italian sophistication, Teutonic rigour or gently British irrelevance. Few gourmands would admit to a love of a broccoli and tuna pasta bake; reconfigure that as purple sprouting, orecchiette and bottarga and you have a death-row meal. Although your basic cauliflower is now gaining in popularity over the fractal, reptilian Romanesque, there is still a rigid hierarchy of cabbages, with varieties like hispi, January King, and that flat stuffable one allowed on to menus never sullied by the honest white, mainstay of coleslaw and kebab shops.

 

The cabbage, plain and dull as it might be, is one of our oldest vegetables, a gift, as with so many other edibles, of the Romans – I don’t know where they got it from. At one time it would have formed almost the entire diet of the European peasant, from Naples to Nottingham; it’s no wonder we have so many varieties. Luckily, the cabbage takes well to inteference and mutation. The cauliflower, as its name suggests, is a sort of artificially fattened cabbage blossom, allowed to let itself go almost to seed, becoming bloated and corpulent; its sleeker, odder cousin is the kohlrabi. This is one of those vegetables rarely seen outside of restaurants, and has never received an English name. In (I think) Dutch, it simply means ‘cabbage-turnip’, but I prefer Cabbage-Head. Vaguely resembling a root, it is in fact a fat, distended cabbage stalk, with only a few waving leaves and tendrils to remind you of its cabbage-hood. It is crisp, sweet and appley, with only a whisper of mustardy brassical heat, excellent raw in slaws, remoulades and pickles – so much so, in fact, that I’ve never cooked with it, and I’m not sure I want to.

 

It has a great affinity with aniseed flavours and with fish, and slips well into the sort of fennel-orange-chicory combinations that are your main salad option at this time of year; try finely slicing all of the above, dressing with capers, bitter oil and sweet white vinegar, and serving with crisply seared cod cheeks. Shredded and mixed with scant spoonfuls of aioli, it stands up to thinly sliced raw or cured beef as well as to poached salt ling, flaked through a salad with handfuls of roughly chopped herbs. Lacking these things, or with an abundance of winter vegetables, this mixed pickle is an excellent thing to make. The bitter citrus cuts through the mild funk of fermentation, and the whole thing is like a jar of pale winter sun.

 

MIXED PICKLE

70 g salt

70 g sugar

a few juniper berries, peppercorns, bay leaves and cloves

1 kohlrabi

2 fat carrots

1 bulb of fennel

4 sticks of celery

1 onion, preferably sweet and white

1 lemon

1 blood orange

3 cloves of garlic

 

Put the sugar, salt and spices in a pan with 2 L of water and bring to the boil, just to dissolve the salt and sugar. Leave to cool down while you prepare the vegetables.

These can be more or less thinly sliced. I like them shredded, so the whole is more like a spoonable condiment that individual ‘pickles’, but that’s up to you; the lemon and orange should be good and thin, though, whatever else you do. The fermentation will take longer the bigger the pieces are, mind. Pack the veg into a sterilised jar and pour over the brine. Seal and leave somewhere warmish.

In a few days they should start clouding over – this is good. Start tasting soon after, and refrigerate when you’re happy with the pickliness. The lactic sourness should be enough to counteract the bitter lemon.

 

 

Ragu a la Lear

There once was an onion from Spain
Chopped with and across of the grain
And softened in butter
It reduces and splutters
Adding flavour and depth to your main.

Now pour in a large glass of wine
Adding salt to make red, boozy brine
Boil the liquid away
And the flavour will stay –
You’ll thank me for this when you dine.

A tin of tomatoes goes in –
Paste too, if the juices seem thin –
When kept at a simmer
The colour grows dimmer –
The deep, bloody scarlet of sin.

Add portions of beef, minced and brown
Keep boiling your bolognaise down
In a couple of hours
The remarkable power
Of your cooking will win you renown.

When content with the state of your beef
Cook pasta – just ‘to the teef’ –
Grate Grana Padano /
Pecorino Romano –
Dinner’s ready! Now what a relief!

A Time To Build Up

There’s no denying that these are slow months. Feast-weary and diet-starved, eating out holds less attraction for most; the garden gives only the slow, iron creep of green leaf, brassica and root, and even the gas emerges slowly from the frozen pipes, bursting reluctantly into flame. A perfect time, then, for slow, nurturing cooking. That could mean a stew, a casserole or hotpot or daube puttering slowly in or on the back of the oven; it could mean a basket of bright Sevilles transmuting slowly into jewelled glass. For me, this year, it mainly means fermenting things.

At the last count, I had fourteen pots, buckets, crocks and tubs of (mainly) vegetable matter, being gradually colonised and transformed by bacteria. A mash of green chillies, gathering flavour before their vinegar bath; a souring julienne of roots and stalks; pungently spiced cabbage bubbling under airlocks; a foul-looking bucket of squid trimmings and guts. On the more experimental side, there is a vat of sweet honey-water that may or may not attract enough wild yeast to turn into alcohol, and a jar of brined radicchio that probably won’t, now, reach a pleasant eatability. All these things and more require almost daily attention or at least awareness, to be alert to the first sign of mould or rot or, equally, deliciousness; you don’t want your pickle passing its peak before it even gets jarred.

While there is, I suppose, a certain fascination in watching all this happen, the main payoff comes when your ferments are ready – which won’t be for a while. These things take time, especially in cold weather. Luckily, winter is full of instant gratification too, if you look for it – crisp salads of fennel and blood orange and chicory and nuts, or warm ones of roasted brassica, lentils and cheese; steaming, boozy pots of mussels or clams, or spitting pans of squid. All wonderful things that barely need a recipe. Slice Florence fennel and segment the juiciest Sicilian oranges, and combine them with the aid of sweet vinegar and bitter oil, and you have one of the world’s perfect dishes. How is it John Lanchester has it? “A taste that exists in the mind of God”. I can’t remember what he, or rather his narrator, is talking about.

My dinner last night was Romanesque cauliflower, roasted in thick slices with black pudding, tossed with braised lentils, shredded confit chicken, red onion and lettuce, dressed with olio nuovo and some vinegar from a jar of jalapenos; easy for me, because I had all of those things cooked or ready to hand. From scratch, a bloody faff of a recipe that probably wouldn’t be worth it. Still, you get the idea. We need something to keep us occupied while our slow food takes its time. You probably remember (ha!) how my rabbit ragout (my slowest recipe, I think) leaves you with spare saddle fillets; here, finally, is what to do with them. You are WELCOME.

RABBIT PASTRAMI
You’ll need a smoker, or some kind of tray-rack-lid contraption that does the job.
How much this makes depends on how many rabbits you had in the first place. It is very adaptable.
Brined rabbit saddle fillets, rinsed and dried overnight in the fridge
A handful of coarsely ground black pepper (you’ll probably want to do this in a spice grinder, if possible; you could use bought cracked pepper, but it’s not as nice)
2 tbsp loose black tea
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
Take the fillets, which should be a little tacky after drying (this is called the ‘pellicle’, I don’t know why) and roll them in the pepper to coat. Shake them gently to remove the excess, and arrange on the rack of your smoker so they aren’t touching. If you don’t have extraction, open a window.
Put the tea and spices in the bottom of the smoker, drip tray (if there is one) on top of that, then the rack, and then the lid, or tinfoil, leaving a small gap. Place on a high heat until smoke starts to wisp out, then close the gap and smoke on a medium heat for ten minutes. Take off the heat and leave for another ten before taking the lid off.
The ‘pastrami’ can now be sliced thinly and served with, say, sweet-pickled cucumber and rye crispbreads, or sauerkraut and cheese, or whatever; if you make tiny bagels to put it in, please send me pictures.

Inappropriate Pun About A Tart


I don’t really do festive cooking. The feast itself is kept under the iron control of my mother, who adheres to a timetable developed over 40 or more Christmases, not to mention Eves and Boxing Days; I help with little jobs, the blanketing of pigs and the cross-hatching of sprouts, but the real meat of the matter, the planning, execution and seasoning, is all hers.

 

Professionally, I’ve been lucky, in recent years, to work in places that don’t really do festive cooking either; certainly not in a turkey-and-cranberry-and-mincemeat-and-stuffing-and-bread-sauce sort of a way. My first job was in a hotel which VERY MUCH did Christmas, with large work parties several times a day (turkey, smoked salmon & port everywhere). It was, I remember distinctly, hell.

 

Still, it’s nice to give a nod to the season, in the form of nuts and dried fruits and spices. There’s bugger all else to bake with, for one thing, at least until the orange season really kicks in. Hence this tart, with flavours from somewhere between Turkey and Ukraine, and a texture and taste blending mincemeat, treacle, and bakewell – snap, squidge, crunch.

 

SOUR CHERRY AND WALNUT TART

Makes 1 tart.

PASTRY

250g plain flour

50g light muscovado sugar

125g cold, cubed butter

1 egg

pinch of salt

splash of milk

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Blitz, rub or cut the flour together with the sugar, butter and salt. When it looks like fine breadcrumbs, mix in the egg and a tiny splash of milk, then form into a ball and stick in the freezer while you make the filling.

 

FILLING

60g caster sugar

60 soft butter

1 egg

60g walnuts

1 tbsp plain flour

100g dried sour cherries

Grind the walnuts with the flour into a fine crumb. Cream the sugar with the butter until almost white and really fluffy. Beat in the egg and then fold in the walnut mix.

Roll the pastry out thinly to line a buttered and floured tart tin (you’ll have too much pastry, which is infinitely preferable to not enough). Trim off the excess, and spread in the filling. Sprinkle the cherries evenly over the top (they’ll gradually sink, which is fine), then bake for about an hour until the filling is set and the pastry is a nice brown. Meanwhile, make the topping.

TOPPING

80g walnuts

30g caster sugar

a pinch of salt

1/2 tsp caraway seeds

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

knob of butter

Put the walnuts in a small frying pan with the sugar, salt and spices, and toss and heat gently until the sugar melts and darkens into a caramel. Melt in the butter, then tip the lot onto a piece of baking parchment. Leave to cool, then smash or roughly blitz.

When the tart’s hour is up, sprinkle the topping over it and put back in the oven for 10 minutes or so. Leave to mostly cool, then turn out of the tin and serve with fresh cream.

 

 

Blackest Ever Black

I made a very good custard tart the other day. Sweet shortcrust, a layer of soaked and mashed dates, then eggs and cream, beaten with maple syrup instead of sugar, and spiced with cinnamon and black pepper; baked in a very low oven for an hour until just wobbling in the middle, it made a lovely dessert, vaguely festive without bowing to the tyranny of port and mincemeat which dominates this month.

 

Very nice of course, but not a particularly interesting recipe; in fact, I just gave it to you. Figure out the amounts for yourself – that’s what I did, and as I didn’t write them down, any more formal recipe would be a lie. Anyway, there are enough festive desserts knocking around the internet, and that’s not the only thing December is for. Traditionally, this would be a time of preservation, of careful stockpiling against the coming cold – specifically, for pig-killing. A fine traditional folkway, in which the whole village collaborates in turning a breathing animal into charcuterie. Unfortunately, I don’t have a pig.

 

What I do have is a lot of jars and a certain amount of free time, and so, when Rene Redzepi tweeted a recipe for squid garum, my interest was piqued. Garum, you may be aware, was the near-universal seasoning beloved of ancient Rome; made of the run-off from fermenting salted anchovies, it would have been very like a south-east Asian fish sauce, providing a similar whack of umami to all savoury dishes. Now, I’ve never been particularly fussed by fish sauce, but I love making things, especially things which involve fermentation AND entrails. So here we are.

 

I had to adapt Redzepi’s recipe to what I had to hand; he uses barley koji, which, basically, is steamed grain impregnated with bacteria. Used in the fermentation of miso and so forth, the idea (I assumed) is to colonise the sauce with good bacteria, and to give them something to feed on, as a prophylactic against the bad kind. I replaced it with a mixture of fermented tomato brine and flour, and I’m not dead yet. Any unpasteurised fermented brine SHOULD work, if I’m right. However, I make no claims for the edibility or otherwise of this sauce. As with any home-cured protein, you follow your nose and take your chances.

 

GARUM

500g squid or mackerel bits, including guts (& ink), head, and any trim

120g sea salt

100g flour

100g fermented tomato brine

400g water

Blitz the fish bits to a paste. If you don’t have a food processor, then good luck to you. Mix everything together and leave to ferment at 60°C for 5-10 weeks. (I’m currently trying a load at room temperature, to see if that works; I’ll get back to you). When ready, it should smell deeply savoury and not really fishy. Bottle and use as you would anchovies or, obviously, fish sauce. The terror of death gives it piquancy.