Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Fried Green Tomatoes - Moro East stylie

A few months ago now, I was actually in a supermarket, rather than the online parody of one, and was waylaid by the book section. The cookery books section, to be strictly accurate. They had a great selection, at bargain prices. I meant to write about it then and there, but of course, time marches on and I can no longer remember exactly which volumes I was pondering. It goes without saying, though, that I couldn’t walk on by without looking shiftily around me, and, pretending no one had seen me, adding one to the trolley. 

While I do a lot of my shopping from supermarkets online, actually going to one is not particularly good for my soul. It can actually quite be dangerous, especially when, as I was on this occasion, unfettered by children competing for attention and unnecessary additions to their lives. I go with my list and come out with twice as much as I need and an overwhelming sense of panic. And while I’d like to say that I NEED new cookbooks, it’s just not the case. Some people hide new clothes in the cupboard then produce them saying ‘oh this old thing’. I hide new cookery books about the place, then cook something delicious from them in an attempt to gloss over the fact of the purchase... I don’t think he’s fooled...

Anyway, the book that won out that day was Moro East by Sam & Sam Clark. No panicking involved.

I have heard much of their food – my mum has eaten at one of their restaurants, and I think her goddaughter is actually a friend of the Clarks. It’s somewhere I’d love to eat.

The food is beautifully simple, and their books are gorgeously evocative of the food they cook. As I remember, the supermarket concerned had 3 of the Moro books on the shelf, but even I couldn't justify buying more than one, and I was seduced most strongly by the story of Moro East. Not just a recipe book featuring delicious Eastern Mediterranean food, it tells the story of the Manor Garden allotments in Hackney, where the Clarks grew their own vegetables, and of the vibrant community that had grown up around them, as is often the case, and which had welcomed the Clarks. Most poignantly of all, it also details how, with the long march towards the Olympics this summer, the allotment association lost out and their beautifully tended plots were bulldozed and in their place now stands part of the Olympic Park. As recently initiated allotment holders ourselves, this was the book for me that day.

The recipes are seasonal, all based on the huge variety of produce that came out of that little piece of Hackney and mostly easy to prepare, although not all the additional ingredients are easily available in rural Hampshire. They are accompanied by beautiful, slightly wistful photography which I love.

The recipe that caught my eye from the very beginning was one for green tomatoes. Not fried in the southern US style, but in a more Mediterranean fashion, with sweet red wine vinegar, garlic and chilli. The Husband and I experimented extensively with battered versions in the early days of our tomato growing attempts, based entirely on watching Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe, and let’s just say that we’ve felt they were best kept filed in the ‘interesting experiments’ section of our history together. However,  I’m always on the look out for a good green tomato recipe, and was interested to read the Clarks’ take on fried green tomatoes, with no batter anywhere. Having mentally bookmarked the recipe, I took the opportunity to make this dish earlier in the autumn, before we’d discovered the ‘ripen the green tomatoes in a drawer’ trick and after I had already chutney’ed more green tomatoes than I care to remember.

It was very tasty, and while it didn't please all of those who ate it, I would definitely make it again - more than I can say for my attempts from years gone by. I couldn’t think of any way to improve on the recipe, and so emailed the publishers to ask if they would mind if I reproduced it directly from the book. I am very pleased to say that they were happy for me to do so, so here, from Moro East by Sam & Sam Clark (Ebury Press, £17.50) 

Fried Green Tomatoes with garlic and sweet vinegar
Serves 4

5 tbsps olive oil
800g green tomatoes, cut into 2-3 cm wedges
3 garlic cloves cut into matchsticks
2 pinches dried red chilli flakes
1 tsp roughly ground cumin
1 tbsp sweet red wine vinegar or Pedro Ximinez vinegar (or balsamic)

In a wide frying pan, heat the olive oil over a high heat. When just hot, add the tomatoes, cut side down, in a single layer, and fry for a few moments till browned on the first side. Turn over one by one to fry the second cut side. As soon as this starts to colour, shuffle the tomatoes round to make a little room for the garlic and one pinch of the chilli flakes, and the cumin, tucking the garlic in so it makes contact with the pan. Once the garlic is a light nut brown, season the dish with salt, pepper and the vinegar. 

Serve immediately or at room temperature sprinkled with the remaining chilli.

I'm adding this post to November's Bookmarked Recipes on the Tinned Tomatoes blog.


  1. Oh nice! I can make this with my vat of unripe fruit. I really liked the fried tomatoes, they were tasty. Seasoning required in the batter but good though. I have a similar thing going on with cook books.. TK Maxx is my secret weapon

  2. I can have never enough of new clothes, bags, kitchenware, appliances and cookbooks. My husband fainted every time when I said this... LOL!

    I have never cook green tomatoes before and this is really an interesting of cooking these :D

  3. Sounds nice, I've never seen green tomatoes ....


I LOVE comments - please leave one. Unfortunately, I have been getting hideous amounts of SPAM so please can you do the word verification thingy?