Many of us wish we could cook like a chef, but the idea of slaving over a hot stove for hours after work is a little off-putting.
But cooking like a professional isn't all about complicated, multi-step procedures. After spending all day in the kitchen, most chefs know that the best, healthiest home-cooked meals are also the simplest.
If you’ve ever wanted to take a leaf out of their books, here are the comforting dishes from some of Dubai's most renowned names, complete with recipes.
The star chef behind several leading restaurants in the UAE, including Fika in Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Aya in City Walk and DIFC restaurant Gaia, believes it’s easy to eat healthily … simply cook at home.
“When you cook yourself, you know exactly what you’re eating,” he explains. His idea of wholesome home cooking is preparing dishes that are optimal for well-being, happiness and energy, which is why the humble poached eggs and smoked salmon remains one of his favourites.
Chef Ani's poached eggs and smoked salmon
5 eggs (3 for the hollandaise sauce, 2 for the main dish)
Dash of water
30ml white balsamic vinegar
60g to 80g clarified butter
Two slices of bread
Smoked salmon, to top
Olive oil, to taste
Salt and black pepper, to taste
For the hollandaise sauce:
1. Boil water in a saucepan.
2. Place one egg and the yolk of two more eggs in a bowl and pour in a splash of water. Add the white balsamic vinegar and salt.
3. As soon as you add the salt, begin to whisk the mixture. Aim to get as much air into the sauce as possible to make it fluffy.
4. Place the bowl above the boiling water while whisking, to add heat to the mixture. Once you have achieved a thick, fluffy consistency, add clarified butter while whisking, little by little to keep the sauce light.
For the poached egg:
I always like to use a large pan, which gives a teardrop shape to the eggs. I also like using the freshest eggs for the best flavour. You can check this by breaking it; older eggs have a runny, water-like consistency, whereas younger eggs are plumper.
1. Bring water to boil, with a little salt.
2. Crack the eggs into the water, cook for around 90 seconds to two minutes, to your desired consistency.
3. To finish, toast your bread of choice and top with fresh smoked salmon. Place the poached eggs on top, followed by the hollandaise sauce, olive oil and black pepper to taste.
The Dubai chef, who worked in establishments such as Zuma before launching his own restaurant, Reif Japanese Kushiyaki, knows how to keep busy. So, his idea of a simple yet flavourful meal is noodles – a dish that can be whipped up with relative ease.
Chef Othman's seafood udon, with yuzu koshu cream
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp salted butter
½ tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp chopped shallots
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup cooking cream
100g sea bass
30g green beans
¼ tsp yuzu koshu
5g chopped chives
5g chopped spring onion
2 basil leaves
3 red cherry tomatoes, cut (or to your liking)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Heat a pan, add the oil and butter at the same time. Once the butter has melted, add the garlic and shallots and saute until light brown. Add the chicken stock and cook on a medium heat for two minutes, then add the cream and continue cooking to reduce it.
2. While the sauce is being reduced, cook the udon noodles in hot, salted boiling water. Once ready, strain.
3. Meanwhile, add the sea bass, shrimp, green beans and yuzu koshu to the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Add the udon noodles, mix well and pour on to a shallow plate or bowl. Garnish with chives, spring onion, basil leaves and tomatoes.
The former Zuma chef and current executive chef at Ruya, is in the process of teaching his eldest son, who is off to university this year, how to prepare basic meals that are healthy, filling and not too expensive. That includes this vegetable couscous recipe.
As Clague explains: "It’s easy, as you basically pour boiling water on the couscous and the vegetables are just cooked in a flavoured stock. The vegetables can be changed as long as you take their cooking times into consideration and tinned chickpeas are readily available.”
Clague recommends adding lamb cutlets, Merguez sausage or spiced grilled chicken on the side to make it a complete and delicious meal.
Chef Clague's vegetable couscous
For the couscous:
5g Maldon sea salt
600ml warm water (or vegetable stock)
30g unsalted butter, diced
For the vegetable stew:
2 carrots, peeled and diced
4 small red onions, quartered
200g pumpkin, peeled and diced
1.5 litres vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
1 sprig rosemary
5 garlic cloves, crushed
20g tomato paste
1 small aubergine, diced
1 courgette, diced
2 baby leeks, diced
1 can chickpeas
3 tomatoes quartered
Freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Place the couscous in a roasting tray, add the salt and pour in the warm water or vegetable stock, stir to make sure grains are covered and cover with clingfilm and leave to absorb for 15 minutes.
3. For the vegetable stew, roast the carrots, onions and pumpkin until golden brown, then pour in the vegetable stock. Add the bay leaves, rosemary, garlic and tomato paste and lightly season with salt and pepper.
4. After about six to seven minutes, once the vegetables are half cooked, add the aubergine, courgette and baby leek. Simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes until the vegetables are just about cooked.
5. Add the can of chickpeas, tomatoes and honey, and season with harissa.
6. Rake the couscous with a fork to separate the grains, add oil and rub with your fingers to coat and to aerate.
7. Add the diced butter, cover with baking parchment and place in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes until hot. To serve, place couscous in a bowl and top with a ladle of the stew.
Many of us have spent time in lockdown baking bread, and it looks like some of our favourite chefs have done the same. Scott Price, one half of the duo behind Folly by Nick & Scott, reveals that his go-to recipe is fresh focaccia.
“I love baking this at home as I find it very relaxing,” he says.
Chef Price's olive oil and rosemary focaccia
15g fresh yeast
500g bread flour
50ml good-quality extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1. Rub the yeast into the flour with your fingertips until a rough crumble is achieved.
2. Add the salt, olive oil and water. Mix the ingredients together for two to three minutes until a dough is formed.
3. Knead until a smooth and springy dough is achieved. Place in a lightly floured bowl, cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place for one hour.
4. Once the dough has doubled in size, carefully turn it out into a heavily oiled baking tray. Press gently into the tray and drizzle with a little olive oil. Cover and leave to rest for another hour.
5. Strip the rosemary from the stalks and press gently into the dough, drizzle with a little more olive oil. Cover and prove for one more hour.
6. Preheat the oven to 225°C.
7. Remove the cover, sprinkle liberally with Maldon salt and drizzle on a little oil. Bake for 25 minutes. Once golden brown, remove from the baking tray and cool.