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Desert Island Dishes

Simon Houston - dishes

Top eight dishes

  1. With no hesitation, the BBQ tops the list. The social aspect of cooking outside with friends and family is unbeatable. Alongside a few cold beers (often from my favourite beer shop Hop Burns and Black, East Dulwich), Ginger Pig’s pork and black pepper sausages and their rib eyes will pretty much always feature on the grill.
  2. Roka’s spicy lamb cutlets have to be one of the most flavourful bites, anywhere! For someone as greedy as me, it’s the perfect one mouthful of spice, smoke, juiciness and general loveliness. Of course you canā€™t stop at one though.
  3. I have been fortunate enough to work with many extremely talented chefs, one in particular is Fabien Ecuvillon who to this day makes the best lemon tart I’ve tasted. I must have tried a hundred times to replicate the recipe he kindly passed on but I’m convinced it must have been altered – it wouldn’t be the first time a pastry chef would do that, would it!
  4. Curry in any form, any flavour and any kind is one of the best. I remember as a kid making one of Delia’s recipes, it was a turkey korma. My skills have moved on a little bit from then. I love the versatility of curry and my colleague Lin Dickens will be delighted to know, I even like the veggie verity (sometimes).
  5. Great friends of mine live on the west coast of Scotland and over the years, I’ve indulged myself in hand-dived scallops. Simply cooked with butter, garlic and parsley, the flavour is just amazing. Keep the sides; if you eat enough you don’t need them.
  6. Continuing on the Scottish theme, one of my best food memories is catching and cooking mackerel. There a huge amount of excitement to be had by pulling in a line of feathers, dancing with glistening mackerel – even better knowing they’re destined for the BBQ. Nothing more than salt, pepper and lemon juice. Just perfect.
  7. One of bartlett mitchellā€™s development chefs, Darren Collier has always inspired me around bread making and in particular, his sour dough. With homemade butter and Maldon salt, it’s one of life’s simple pleasures.
  8. We have a fabulous fish monger near us called Moxons and I’ve fallen in love with John Dory. For one of the ugliest fish in the sea, it’s meaty and firm texture is just delicious and holds up really well on the BBQ. The bones make amazing fish stock as well.

You’re also allowed one luxury, what would it be.

A really good bottle of 25 year old Scotch from my favourite distillery, Dalwhinnie. If I was stuck on a desert island, I can’t think of many better ways to pass the time!

What book would you take with you, knowing you already had a religious text of your choice and the complete works of Shakespeare?

I’m not much of a novelist so I’d certainly opt for a cookbook. Probably Ottolenghiā€™s, Plenty. I love this book and it’s packed with inspirational ideas – his food is so colourful and fresh which I absolutely love. He’s also led the way in moving salads on from iceberg lettuce and quartered tomatoes. Thank you Yotam!

If you were allowed one of these dishes, which one would it be?

Scallops in Scotland. It goes beyond the food for me as the great memories and experiences I’ve had up there make the flavour a million times better anyway. It’s amazing to watch how they effortlessly dance through the water (and hopefully straight onto the plate!). One of the greatest dishes.

This article first appeared inĀ b&i cateringĀ magazine and you can read the full article here