Marjorie Lang

Chef's Review: 'Savour' by Peter Gordon

by Marjorie Lang The Food 1 Jul 16

A Foray into Fusion

I was delighted to be given the opportunity to review Peter Gordon’s new book ‘Savour’….

But I first need to give you a little context. In 1993 we came back to the UK after 7 years of life in Tokyo: a wondrous adventure where an already existing passion for food went off in new and thrilling directions.  On our return to London, there were so many new things happening in the food world; one happened to be that the aforementioned Mr Gordon had opened ‘The Sugar Club’ in Notting Hill, a restaurant to follow the original in his native New Zealand.

This was a haven and a delight for me, where the wonderful tastes of Japan and our travels around Southeast Asia were at the fore, comforting with the fondest of food memories. Dashi, nori, fish sauce, chillies, ginger, lemon grass, soy, sake - matched and complimented by the familiar flavours of home. It was true Fusion, which reminded me so much of the flavours I had come to know and love. Since then I have always enjoyed reading and keeping up with what Peter is doing.

So, full circle, I am now fortunate enough to be reviewing his new book for Thyme, where excitingly he will be hosting a Thyme’s Table event on 27th August with a class in our cookery school followed by a dinner in our magnificent tithe barn that evening.

It maybe unsurprising that Peter has chosen salads in their many and varied forms as his subject. Main meal salads have become extremely popular and we are all now lucky enough to be able to access a huge range of vegetables, grains and ingredients that make interesting salads a possibility. He also encourages us to look in our fridges and stores, to be a little adventurous. Seasonings, textures and temperature also play their important roles. Peter describes his approach thus:

‘To create harmony, you sometimes need to create a clash of some sort’.

Endorsed by Yottam Ottolengi, who has in recent years done so much for vegetable cooking as a serious and respected culinary skill, this was a book I had been looking forward to enormously. It is a truly accessible cookbook. The informative paragraph which precedes each recipe is both interesting and useful, with the initial ‘Elements of a Salad’ section hugely inspiring. The photography is clean and clear. The recipes do indeed, in some cases, have an element that is unusual or unexpected but in Peter’s safe and talented hands these combinations work – the ‘clash’ content doing its thing … Recipes such as Quinoa, poached tofu and shitake, roast beetroot, wasabi, endive, crispy capers and curry leaves, may not be a combination that immediately springs to mind, but it does indeed work, eat and taste delicious. I look forward to trying so many more; next on my list smoked mackerel, beetroot, egg, apple, dill with miso & mustard dressing, which we thought would be lovely to share with you this month.  Then looking ahead, I await the Autumn with recipes such as Venison, coconut-curried pumpkin and mustard cabbage. All year round salads – what a treat.

So join us at Thyme, where we shall be welcoming Peter, and you too can delight in his flavour combinations.

Note: I will be bringing along my personally signed copy of ‘The Sugar Club Cook Book’ circa 1996, all dog-eared, food-splattered, much scribbled upon (a habit not always approved of!); well worn it may be, but I will still be asking, without embarrassment, if he would kindly countersign it !!! 

Recipe reproduced with kind permission from Jaqui Small Publishing / Savour: Salads for all Seasons by Peter Gordon is out now (Jacqui Small, £25 hardback)