Wednesday , October 27 2021
Ask the expert - issue 40 1

Ask the expert – issue 40

By Roger Hickman

What would you choose as your Last Supper?
I would start with scallops and pork belly – the perfect combination.  I would then continue the fish theme, with a main course of pan-fried wild sea bass fillet with a vermouth velouté and thrice-cooked chunky chips. Pudding would be hot apple crumble served with cold custard. You’ll notice that this is pretty simple fare, and in fact it’s the kind of food I – and I suspect most chefs – will eat at 2am after a long shift.

What in your opinion is the most over-rated food?
For me it would have to be lobster, and not just because I am allergic to it. I just think it’s hugely overpriced for what it is, and often can be tough and not taste of very much – lobster dishes tend to depend on the extra flavours you introduce as part of the dish, a bit like tofu. My advice would be to go for langoustines, which are much more tender and have more flavour.

What three ingredients could you not live without?
The first would be sea salt. Salt is crucial in so much of what we cook. It is the most important seasoning, and the role it plays in bringing out so many different flavours in dishes is difficult to overstate. Repeated health scare stories have meant that too many people don’t use salt in their kitchens, or else really under-season their food – and then they wonder why it doesn’t taste of much.

The second ingredient would be mushrooms. These are the most powerful providers of umami flavours, that savoury, earthy end of the taste spectrum which gives so much pleasure. Mushrooms can be at the centre of a dish, providing flavour as an accompaniment, or else acting a little like a seasoning or garnish. They are very versatile.

The third ingredient I couldn’t live without is eggs. They are such a central part of so many dishes, both savoury and sweet, as well as being pretty crucial for pastries and cakes (whatever vegan week on the Bake Off might have you believe).  

If you have a question for Roger, send it to

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