Ask Peter: Hummus
A recent Bite feature mentioned you were serving a sweetcorn hummus on the Anzac Day platter at your London restaurant, Kopapa. Yum. Any chance you would share the recipe? Alice
We did indeed serve sweetcorn hummus on Anzac Day at Kopapa as a component of the annual fund-raising platter we create for various Anzac charities. When we devise the platter we include a modern take on dishes from the three countries involved in the conflict — New Zealand and Australia, obviously, but also Turkey.
This year Turkey was represented, culinarily, with a freekeh and potato kibe, sweetcorn hummus, and pomegranate and tarator sauce. The kibe is a fritter, made by combining cooked freekeh (green wheat) with mashed potatoes, a little egg and spice. It was topped with a quenelle of sweetcorn hummus and then a spoonful of walnut and garlic based tarator sauce — which is often served with deep-fried mussels. It was garnished with pomegranate seeds, which always brings Turkish cuisine to my mind.
The hummus was a play on the traditional chickpea and tahini-based one, and all I did was replace 40 per cent of the cooked chickpeas with grilled sweetcorn kernels which gave the dish a fabulous flavour, colour and texture. We tore the husks off corn cobs, lightly oiled them and grilled the cobs until the kernels were mostly golden or brown. Once cool enough to handle, the kernels were then cut off the cob, left to cool, then used in place of some chickpeas. Easy, tasty and a good variation to make when summer is upon you and sweetcorn is plentiful. However, at this time of the year you’re better to think of other replacement vegetables.
The most obvious one that springs to mind would be pumpkin. You could steam or boil it, but by roasting it you’ll get a delicious caramelised flavour and this adds a lot of character to what would otherwise be a not-too-flavoursome dip. As to the volume you use as replacement for cooked and drained chickpeas, anything up to 50 per cent would be fine. Too much more and you’ll end up with pumpkin puree, not pumpkin hummus.
Other vegetables you can use are honey and cumin roast parsnips or carrots, ginger roast kumara chunks, herby roasted celeriac. In fact any starchy vegetable will work well. And next time you have some veges left over from a Sunday roast (not potato — too subtle and they don’t puree well without going gluey) try making this variation. Also good to have up your sleeve is some extra roast garlic. Use this in the hummus instead of grated raw garlic — it makes it a little more elegant. If you’re roasting anything in the oven, throw in a few unpeeled heads of garlic and cook until you can almost squash the cloves between your fingers. Store in the fridge — covered tightly, as the smell will permeate the fridge — for up to 2 weeks. A wee stash of this lovely flavouring in the fridge will come in handy every now or then, for adding to risottos, soups, salad dressings and, of course, hummus. Once cooked and golden, garlic adds an intriguing caramelised flavour to dishes and is well worth the effort.
I recently made a wonderful looking hummus using black garlic and black tahini. The resulting mixture was quite “halloweeny” in appearance but very tasty. Black garlic has been aged and fermented and can be bought by the head. It tastes of toffee and garlic combined, and in fact I’ve seen it on Instagram being used to flavour ice cream in a Danish restaurant — as you’d expect with their “push the boundary” restaurants — as black garlic simply isn’t too overbearing. Black tahini is actually black ‘atari goma’ — Japanese sesame seed paste — which is obviously black when made with black sesame seeds. When people think of tahini they do tend to think it is only from the Middle East, but Japanese cooks have been making sesame seeds into a paste for generations, and the black one is a lot of fun to play with. There was a period when black panna cotta and black sesame ice creams were popping up on menus all over the culinary world and this is where it stemmed from. If you can find the black version then try using it — the greyish colour might be a little off-putting, but served with buttered kale, a few grilled lamb cutlets, a dollop of minted yoghurt and some dukkah, it’ll be well worth it.
In our Ask Peter series, executive chef Peter Gordon answers your curly culinary questions. If you're stumped over something food-related, send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and keep checking in for answers. You can read more on Peter on his website, have a read of his Ask Peter articles or check out his recipes on our site.