This recipe came from a new book The Washer Up bought for me called Terre A Terre. Terre A Terre is a vegetarian restaurant in Brighton and the book has some amazingly creative, unusual recipes for dishes that you will have never seen anywhere else. Their aim is to challenge the image of vegetarian food and push the boundaries of conventional perceptions by creating gourmet vegetarian cuisine.
This recipe caught my eye mainly because of the Halloumi cheese. In case you didn’t know I love Halloumi. Halloumi is a Cypriot sheep’s milk cheese that is special because it cooks rather than melts. Because of this you can grill it or fry it and it doesn’t lose it’s shape. I usually cook my Halloumi slices in a dry pan and then marinade them in olive oil, lemon juice, fresh herbs & spices. You can see the full recipe here.
This recipe is a vegetarian play on the traditional English Friday night take-away dish: Battered Fish with Mushy Peas & Tartare Sauce you would get from the local fish & chip shop. They had me at battered Halloumi, but the addition of minty mushy peas really sealed it for me. The tartare sauce recipe is mine. I don’t like capers or gherkins (cornichons) so I substituted them for pickled onions, which I love, and it worked! I also added some coriander as well as parsley. The result is better than any tartare sauce you’ve ever tried, I promise. The addition of the nori seaweed is from the book and is, I have to say, genius. Nori seaweed is what you use make sushi rolls and the flavour of the sea it gives to the sauce is so spot on, once you’ve tried it you’ll wonder why you’ve never done it before.
The “mashy peas” came about by happy accident. I halved the recipe for the minty pea puree from the book which was for 6 people but forgot to halve the butter. This resulted in a very buttery puree (above). To resolve this (I didn’t have any more peas to add) I decided to add some mashed potato to the puree. I had seen Jamie Oliver do something similar with broccoli and peas in mash. Any excuse to include mash really.
The spicy lemon pickle (they call it “Yemeni Lemony Pickle” which is such a cool name) is just the right mix of sweet, spicy and sour and is a fabulous alternate dip for the Halloumi with the creamy tartare sauce. You could always just serve this with a wedge of lemon instead if you’re not up for making the pickle as well. I made it because I had a large fruit bowl full of lemons and was making some preserved lemons as well. I will post the recipe for the preserved lemons when they are ready.
The original dish in the book also serves pickled quail’s eggs and vodka grape tomatoes with this. As fantastic as they sound it would be a lot of work if you were to make everything. I was really happy with it as it was but am intrigued about the pickled quail’s eggs! This book makes you appreciate and understand how much work goes into each component part of each dish at this restaurant and definitely makes me want to go the next time I am in Brighton.
Each recipe has 4 or 5 different elements to it but you can pick and choose as to how many you do, like I did. It is really inspiring and aspirational.
The Halloumi is soaked in buttermilk for several hours or overnight so do this in the morning or the night before.
Battered Halloumi with Minty Mashy Peas, Tartare Sauce & Yemeni Lemony Pickle Recipe
Serves 2 -3, vegetarian. Adapted from Terre A Terre by Amanda Powley & Phillip Naylor
For the Halloumi
- 1 pack 250 gr Halloumi cheese
- 250 ml buttermilk or 125 ml yoghurt mixed with 125 ml milk
- plain flour for coating
- sunflower oil to deep fry
For the Batter
- 75 gr plain flour
- 35 gr self-raising flour
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 120 ml cold water
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- salt & black pepper
Cut the Halloumi in to thin slices (less than 1/2 cm) then cut them into triangles (See photo above). Cut the triangles with the natural break of the Halloumi. Put the buttermilk or yoghurt/milk mixture in to a dish (I used an empty1 litre ice cream tub) and submerge the Halloumi in the liquid to soak, overnight or, for several hours in the fridge.
To make the batter whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl to make a batter the consistency of double cream. Adjust water/flour if necessary. Cover with cling film and keep in the fridge until you are ready to cook the Halloumi.
Just before serving heat the oil in a wok or deep fryer to hot (180 C). Put some plain flour in a shallow dish and remove the Halloumi & batter from the fridge. Lift the Halloumi pieces, one at a time, out of the buttermilk and let it drip off slightly. Put it in the flour and flip it to coat, then put it in the batter. Open a window unless you want your whole house to smell of deep-frying. When the oil has reached temperature, lift the Halloumi out of the batter and carefully drop it into the hot oil. Fry two triangles at a time. It should puff up and start to turn golden straight away. If not your oil is not hot enough. Turn the halloumi with a slotted spoon to cook on both sides. This should only take a minute or two to be crisp & golden on both sides. Remove with the slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
For the Mashy Peas
- 200 gr frozen peas
- a big handful of mint, keep the stalks & chop the leaves
- a big handful of parsley, keep the stalks & chop the leaves
- 50 gr unsalted butter
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled, quartered and put in a pan of cold salted water
- salt & black pepper
Bring the pan of salted water with the peeled quartered potatoes to the boil, turn down slightly and cook for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender all the way through.
Meanwhile, in a small pan of boiling, salted water, cook the peas with the herb stalks until tender (about 3 minutes). Drain the cooked peas and throw away the stalks. Blend the peas with the butter and chopped herbs, season with salt & pepper and taste.
Drain the potatoes and mash them well in the pan. Heat up the pea puree and add this to the mashed potatoes, stirring well with a wooden spoon. Add more salt & pepper & taste again. Just heat through in a pan when ready to serve.
For the Tartare Sauce
- 1 nori seaweed sheet
- a handful of coriander & parsley, chopped
- about 4 heaped tbsp good mayonnaise
- 1 or 2 pickled onions, roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- fresh lemon juice about 2 tbsp
- salt & black pepper
Put the nori sheet under the grill for a few seconds on each side to crisp up. Keep an eye on it, it burns! Crumble or chop the nori into the processor with the rest of the ingredients and blend until incorporated but still a bit chunky. Season with a little salt (the seaweed is salty) and pepper stir in and taste. You may want to add more lemon juice or pickled onion. It’s up to your taste buds. Store in the fridge.
For the Yemeni Chilli Paste (for the lemon pickle)
makes 1 small jar
- 4 red chillis, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/4 tsp coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
- a big handful of fresh coriander, leaves & stalks
- olive oil
Blend all the ingredients together, drizzling in olive oil until a paste consistency is reached. Pour into a clean jar and cover the top with olive oil. Will keep in the fridge for at least a month.
For the Lemon Pickle (makes 1 jar)
- 4 lemons, segmented
- 100 ml fresh lemon juice
- peel from 3 preserved lemons (I didn’t have any but I have made some now)!
- 150 gr caster sugar
- 3 or 4 tsp yemen paste, recipe above, or more if you dare
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
Segment the lemons by cutting off the peel & white pith, from top to bottom all the way around (See photo above). Then cut out the lemon segments in between each membrane. Put the lemon segments from 3 of the lemons into a blender and reserve the segments of the fourth for later. Add the lemon juice, peel from preserved lemons if using, to the blender and liquidize until smooth. Put this in a small pan with the sugar and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Boil rapidly for two minutes then stir in your Yemeni chilli paste. Put in the fridge to cool. When cool stir in the reserved lemon segments and chopped mint. This is now ready to serve. Store in the fridge. This would be a great sauce or baste for grilled fish or chicken as well.
To serve, warm your plates and put your lemon pickle (or lemon wedge if you are going for the easier option) and tartare sauce in their dishes on the plate ready. Heat the frying oil. Heat the mashy peas over a low heat with a little veg stock to loosen if necessary. Keep an eye on it while you fry off the Halloumi. Drain the halloumi on kitchen paper and pile them on the plates with a big spoon (or quinelle) of the mashy peas.
This may sound like a lot of work but it’s so worth it. Soaking the Halloumi really brings out the flavour and softens the texture. The mashy peas are to die for and the lemony pickle is perfect if you can be bothered. The Washer Up said the Halloumi was better than battered fish! I will definitely be trying some more recipes from this book in the future and would recommend it to any creative, confident cooks out there who are looking for something different, delicious, challenging and inspiring. I’m going to have a go at the pickled quail’s eggs next time, I promise!!