Saturday, June 8, 2013

Edamame Kuku

Wasn't it John "Hannibal" Smith from the awesome 1980s show The A-Team who said, "I love it when a plan comes together"?. Well, that's kinda how I felt today after executing Yotam Ottolenghi's kuku (an Iranian Jewish Frittata), albeit having made a few ingredient-modifications for the lack of barberries and broad beans (two ingredients in the original recipe). 

I've been lusting after Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's cookbook Jerusalem for a while now - it didn't help that my friend, colleague and fellow food lover Jane of The Wayward Oven kept raving about all the recipes in the book - and today, finally, I purchased it along with a basketful of ingredients the two gentleman use abundantly in their recipes.

Jane urged me to start with the A'ja (Bread Fritters) which is on page 64 of the book but I was sidetracked before I even reached there because on page 38 was the gorgeous visual of a Broad Bean Kuku in a well-seasoned skillet. 

See for yourself: I took a picture of my frittata alongside theirs (see pic below) ... hee hee. Yes, I am pretty pleased with the way my kuku turned out ... After all I did say, I too love it when a plan, or in this case a recipe, comes together nicely. :)

As I mentioned earlier, kuku is similar to the open-faced Italian omelette, the frittata. The most well known is probably the kuku sabzi, which is flavoured with a combination of herbs and/or leafy greens like parsley, chives, coriander, dill, spinach, lettuce ...). For this recipe, Ottolenghi and Tamimi use broad beans as well as a couple of herbs: dill and mint.

In my rush to get home to cook, I missed out the broad beans. No big deal, I figured, since I had some edamame (young soy beans) at home. I love edamame more than broad beans anyways (and they kinda look the same)!

I also didn't have barberries. These aren't readily available except in middle-eastern grocers (which are few and far between here in KL) so it was not easy to source. I decided to replace them with dried cranberries. 

Cranberries aren't as tart as barberries but I read somewhere (I can't remember where or when) that the tartness can be somewhat replicated by first soaking the dried cranberries in lemon juice for about 15-30 mins. So, I did that. 

The lemon-soaked cranberries (that are also later soaked in a simple sugar-syrup) added a tarty (did I really use that word?) sweetness to the otherwise savoury and robust kuku. Their ruby redness also added a pop of colour to the dish. 

Unlike an omelette where the egg usually overpowers the ingredients, in this kuku, the egg-filling ratio favours the ingredients: the beans, herbs and berries pack the omelette and the egg is just there to bind them all together ... well kind of.

The addition of safron-infused cream adds yet another dimension to this egg dish. The recipe suggests that you eat the kuku with some yoghurt with cucumber but I served it with sour cream instead. 

Now, I don't normally judge a dish I've cooked by the response it gets from others (usually, if I love it, it's good to go!) but this time my husband R's reaction to this kuku was quite a reflection of how really good it is.

R isn't a die-hard fan of omelettes or eggs for that matter. Unlike me, who rushes straight to the omelette station at a hotel breakfast buffet, R can go a month or three without eating an omelette or a quiche or a frittata. I can't! I need my omelette fix every week. At least!

But this edamame kuku? Well, R finished half of it by himself. I was almost afraid there wouldn't be any left for me! (Disclaimer: I halved the recipe because there is only two of us at home and I didn't want leftovers as I wanted to try more recipes tomorrow!).

This was ... to put it crudely .. one damn good frittata!

Edamame Kuku
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sam Tamimi's Broad Bean Kuku in Jerusalem

250g frozen edamame
1 tbsp castor sugar
20g dried cranberries (soaked in the juice of 1 lemon)
2 tbsp double cream
1/4 tsp saffron threads
4 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, smashed
4 eggs
Scant 1 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp dill, chopped
1/2 tbsp mint, chopped
salt and black pepper

Add a tsp of salt to a pot of water and boil. When boiling, add the frozen edamame and cook until the water boils again, for about 3 mins. Drain and refresh under cold water. Shell the edamame and set aside.

Combine the double cream and the saffron and bring to the boil. Take the pot off the heat and let the saffron infuse into the cream for about 30 mins.

Drain the cranberries from the lemon juice.

Dissolve the sugar in about 75ml boiling water. Soak the cranberries in the syrup for 10 mins.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a non-stick, oven-proof skillet (mine was an 8-inch one). Add the onions and cook on medium heat for about 4 mins, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 mins. Add the edamame and stir to mix ingredients together and coat the edamame with the oil, garlic and onions. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat the oven to 180C.

Beat the eggs until frothy in a bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, saffron cream, herbs, 1 tsp salt and pepper and whisk together well.

Add the strained cranberries and edamame and onion mix and stir together.

Wipe the skillet clean. Add the remaining 2 tbsp oil and put the skillet in the oven to heat up for about 10 mins.

Remove and pour the egg mixture in. Cover the skillet and bake for about 15 mins. Remove the lid and continue to bake for another 20-25 mins till set.

Remove and serve with sour cream/yoghurt+cucumber.

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