I was seduced by a Nigella recipe, and now have bags of rice flour, desiccated coconut and panko breadcrumbs. What can I make with them?
Oh, Bridget, we’ve all been seduced by Nigella and her recipes at some point in our lives – it’s only natural. I’m assuming we’re talking about her coconut shrimp, and if that’s the case, you could apply the same principle to other fish. Fillet of cod or salmon, say, would welcome a coconut crust, says Jun Tanaka, chef-patron of The Ninth in London. “Mix the coconut and panko in a bowl. In another bowl, combine the rice flour, salt and pepper.” Dip the fish in the flour, then in beaten egg and, finally, the panko mix. “Put on a tray, spray lightly with olive oil, and bake until golden.”
The dream, of course, would be a plethora of dishes that require all three ingredients, and Guardian columnist Tamal Ray gets close enough with his pati shapta. These Bengali pancakes, made using a batter of 120g rice flour, 30g sugar and 200ml whole milk, are filled with a coconut mix (100g desiccated coconut, two cardamom pods, 300ml whole milk and 80g dark sugar simmered to a “sticky paste”), then rolled.
Failing that, we’ll just have to tackle Bridget’s ingredients individually. Panko is a prime candidate for coating things (chicken kiev or aubergine to eat with katsu curry, say) and frying, or for turning into a salad topper: “If I’m frying bacon, I often add panko, so it absorbs the fat,” says Milli Taylor, head of the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen. “Otherwise, drop them into hot olive oil spiked with paprika and fennel seeds.” Panko could also be sprinkled in the bottom of a filo pie to soak up excess liquid – a tip Taylor picked up from Helen Goh on the latest OTK book shoot. “If you’re wilting a load of greens to put in there, the panko will make sure the filo doesn’t get too wet.” These breadcrumbs are also a decent binder for meatballs or, says Jan Ostle, head chef of Wilsons in Bristol, stuffing: “Pop a load of mushrooms in a food processor, then [add] garlic, thyme, panko and a fistful of butter.” Stuff that inside a chicken and roast. More than anything, however, Taylor turns to panko for korokke, or Japanese croquettes: “Mix whatever leftover veg you have with mashed potato, then roll in panko and fry.” Top with tonkatsu sauce, and you’re winning.
Although pol sambol is usually made with fresh coconut, desiccated also works, Taylor says: “Grind the [unsweetened] coconut, green chilli, chilli powder, red onion, lime, salt and tomato, then serve with any curry or dal.” It’s also worth revisiting OTK’s chard poriyal, featuring a handful of desiccated coconut stirred through sauteed veg; alternatively, add to tikkis or, for something sweet, cookies, sheet cake and macaroons.
Finally, the rice flour, which, Taylor says, is best put to work in “battery things”, her go-to being Thai sweetcorn fritters: “It makes them go really crisp”; kimchi pancakes are another good shout. Otherwise, Bridget is probably back to “rolling and frying”, Ostle says, although he suspects “some will probably lurk until you fully commit and eat only Nigella’s recipe until the whole bag is finished”.