At Koya a few weeks ago, I had a tempura coated, deep fried, round courgette that was magically filled with an softly cooked egg. I loved it. Partly because of the egg in the middle – which raised a smile – but mostly because it was really, simply, an example of putting vegetables front and centre. This is a good thing.
Last night, as I stood waiting for inspiration in the middle of my greengrocer’s, I kept looking at a basket piled with light green courgette bombs (this is not a technical term). When I eventually I caved in, that Koya dish was firmly in my mind. There was no intention to replicate. But I did fancy a vegetable focused meal.
In the end I walked out with a couple of different coloured courgettes. I cut each into angular chunks and did my best to char the crap out of them (this is a technical term) in an extremely hot wok. I wanted flavour on all those edges, but for that flavour to arrive before the vegetables had softened too much.
After a few minutes I added ginger, sesame oil, sesame seeds and soy sauce. Then turned the heat off before chucking in some hastily chopped chilli, and garnishing with fresh mint.
Bloody great. No need for meat when you’ve the kind of flavours and textures in this (though I did match it with some plain rice and a crisply fried egg).
Charred courgette with sesame, ginger & mint
Serves two as the main filler or a side dish for four.1 round green courgette 1 yellow courgette 1 tablespoon sunflower oil 1 tablespoon sesame oil 2 tablespoon light soy sauce 1 tablespoon teaspoon sesame seeds 15g ginger, peeled and thinly sliced 1 red chilli, finely chopped A handful of fresh mint leaves
Cut the round courgette in half, then each of those halves into four segments. Cut the yellow courgette in chunky triangles. Prepare the ginger, garlic and mint – this takes just a few minutes.
Put a wok on your hottest hob. Add sunflower oil and leave for 30 seconds to get really hot. Put the larger green courgette pieces in, laying the pieces on a flat side. Don’t move them – we want colour.
After about a minute, add the yellow courgettes. Again on a flat side.
When there’s plenty of colour on the courgettes (another minute?), turn them onto another side and char for minute longer. It’s good to keep some crunch, so don’t cook for too much longer than that.
Add the sesame oil, ginger, soy and then seeds. Quickly stir once, then turn the heat off. Add half the chilli. Stir again, then decant into a serving bowl or on top of cooked rice. Garnish with the remaining chilli and plenty of chopped mint.