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Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘Eat Better Forever’: Recipes from Asian hot pot to chachouka

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
·6-min read
<p>This Asian hot pot will give you perfect umami flavour</p> (Bloomsbury/Simon Wheeler)

This Asian hot pot will give you perfect umami flavour

(Bloomsbury/Simon Wheeler)

Asian hot pot

This is completely delicious and very filling! The mushrooms are fried “hard” to start with, creating a lovely caramelised exterior that really adds to the flavour of the dish. I like to use black beans, but you can use kidney, cannellini or any other kind. The miso paste is optional but it does give the hot pot a boost of savoury, “umami” character.

Serves 4

3-4tbsp olive or vegetable oil

700g chestnut mushrooms, thickly sliced

½ large celeriac (about 500g) peeled and cut into 2cm cubes

A large thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated

4 garlic cloves, sliced

2 x 400g tins beans (black, white or kidney), drained and rinsed

A bunch of spring onions, trimmed

A bunch of chard (200g), washed

About 2tbsp white/shiro miso paste (optional)

2tbsp soy sauce

Juice of 2 limes or 1 lemon, plus extra to taste

Sea salt and black pepper

3-4tbsp chopped coriander, to finish (optional)

Set a large frying pan over a high heat. Add 2tbsp of the oil, then half the mushrooms with a pinch of salt. Fry them hard for 6-8 minutes, stirring only occasionally so they develop a rich golden-brown colour. If the mushrooms give out any liquid, cook until it’s evaporated and keep going until they are nicely browned. Tip them into a very large saucepan or casserole. Repeat with the remaining oil and mushrooms.


Place the pan of mushrooms over a medium-high heat. Add the cubed celeriac with the ginger and garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Tip in the beans and pour in enough water to just cover everything (about 700ml). Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes or until the celeriac is just tender.

Meanwhile, cut the spring onions into 2cm slices and shred the chard into 1-2cm strips. Add them to the pan and stir well. Return to a simmer and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat. Scoop out a ladleful of the hot broth into a bowl and mix in 2tbsp miso paste. Tip this thick liquid back into the hotpot, and add the soy and lime or lemon juice. Stir well. Taste and add more miso, lime/lemon, soy and/or pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls, finish with chopped coriander if you like, and serve.

Veg/pulse variations

In the summer, replace the celeriac with a mixture of waxy potatoes and carrots. Instead of chard, you can use spinach, spring greens or kale, removing the tough stalks. You can use any kind of tinned bean or pulse, including chickpeas or lentils.

You can swap in kipper or your choice of vegetables Bloomsbury/Simon Wheeler
You can swap in kipper or your choice of vegetables Bloomsbury/Simon Wheeler

Curried beany cullen skink

Cullen skink is an old Scottish friend that I keep welcoming back to my kitchen, in various guises. This time round the usual spuds are swapped for creamy beans, there’s a healthy dose of greens in the form of spinach and a dash of curry gives a lovely warmth and extra comfort.

Serves 4

2tbsp olive or vegetable oil

2 medium leeks or onions, trimmed, halved and sliced

3 garlic cloves, sliced 2 bay leaves (optional)

1 rounded tbsp medium-hot curry powder or paste

300ml whole milk

500ml veg stock

About 300g smoked haddock or pollack fillet, skinned and cut into bite-sized pieces

400g tin cannellini or borlotti beans, drained and rinsed

About 200g baby spinach (or regular spinach, tough stalks removed, leaves roughly chopped)

2tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley or coriander (optional)

Black pepper

Place a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the oil and then the leeks or onions, garlic, bay leaves if using, and curry powder or paste. Sweat, stirring regularly, for 3-4 minutes.

Pour in the milk and stock, bring to a simmer and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

Add the smoked fish and beans followed by the spinach, adding it a handful at a time as it wilts down in the simmering soup. By the time the spinach is wilted (in just a few minutes), the fish will be cooked.

Add the chopped parsley or coriander if using, and season with a few twists of pepper (the smoked fish should make it salty enough). Ladle into warm bowls and serve.

Kipper variations

You can use kipper fillets instead of the smoked haddock or pollack.

Veg variations

Add sweetcorn (frozen or even tinned) or peas, instead of, or as well as, the beans.

And, of course, potatoes can replace the beans for a classic cullen skink – peel and roughly chop the spuds, add them to the simmering stock and cook until just tender before adding the smoked fish.

A classic chachouka is a good way to use up any leftover riceBloomsbury/Simon Wheeler
A classic chachouka is a good way to use up any leftover riceBloomsbury/Simon Wheeler

Mushroom & black rice ‘chachouka’

A classic chachouka uses peppers and tomatoes, which are cooked together before being finished off with baked eggs, but the concept is endlessly adaptable. Bake or roast almost any tasty combination of veg (plus grains and/or pulses if you like), then break in the eggs for the last 10 minutes of cooking, and you have a tasty, well-balanced supper. This is also a good way to use up leftover rice or other cooked grains.

Serves 4

150g black or red rice, or any other kind of wholegrain rice, pre-soaked if time

500g chestnut mushrooms, quartered

1 onion, roughly chopped

1-2tbsp olive or vegetable oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 small preserved lemons, finely diced, or finely grated zest of 1 lemon

250g spinach

2tbsp creme fraiche

4 eggs

A handful of almonds, roughly chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

Cook the rice in plenty of gently simmering, lightly salted water for 20-35 minutes (the time will vary depending on the particular type of rice). Drain well. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190C/Fan 170C/Gas 5.

Put the mushrooms and onion into a large roasting dish, trickle with 1tbsp oil and season with a pinch of salt and a twist of pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the mushrooms are well coloured and the onion is tender. Stir in the garlic, diced lemons or lemon zest and the spinach. Return to the oven for 5-10 minutes, until the spinach is wilted.

Stir the cooked rice into the roasted veg. Dot over the creme fraiche and swirl it in a little. Make 4 shallow dips in the veg, to accommodate the eggs. Break the eggs into the dips. Pepper everything generously and scatter the chopped almonds over the veg, between the eggs. Return the dish to the oven for 8-10 minutes or until the egg whites are fully set but the yolks are still runny. Serve straight away.

Classic Chachouka

Fry 1 chopped onion and 2 sliced red peppers in an ovenproof wide pan with some cumin seeds and garlic until tender, about 20 minutes. Add 2 x 400g tins of tomatoes, roughly chopped, stir and simmer for 10-15 minutes to make a thick pulpy sauce. Stir in ½ tsp hot smoked paprika and check the seasoning. Then make 4 “hollows”, break in 4 eggs and bake as above. Serve with wholegrain bread or cooked whole grains.

Extract from ‘Eat Better Forever’ by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury, £26) Photography © Simon Wheeler

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