Food & Drink

Inside Chefs’ Cupboards: Josh Katz and the ingredients he can’t live without

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Chris Sayer
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Josh katz chef cupboards

The first of a new series in which we take a sneak peek into the home cupboards of culinary geniuses and discover the shelf staples they make sure are always within reach

We’re going to go out on a limb and say, without ever having stepped into your home, that you too have a little jar of cumin seeds at the back of your kitchen cupboard that’s a good, ooooh, eight years out of date. And a little thing of smoked paprika that you could probably make about a thousand quid from because it’s from the nineties and god knows that anything from the nineties or even looks like it’s from the nineties is now worth about a thousand quid. We’re going to say this confidently with 100 percent bet-your-mother-on-it certainty, because we’re exactly the same. 

It’s why, over the coming weeks, we’ll be looking to rectify this by taking a little peep inside the home kitchen cupboards of some of the UK’s biggest, smartest and coolest chefs. Rounding up the go-to shelf staples they make sure are always within reach, and what you too should be keeping a steady supply of.

First up, it’s Josh Katz, chef and co-owner of Haggerston’s super-ace middle-eastern grillhouse Berber and Q, whose glorious line-up miiiight be the push you need to throw away that antiquated oregano and pre-war tin of tuna… 

1. Anchovies

anchovies Katz

“These boys pack a real deep, salty punch. My girlfriend says she can’t stand them, but when I pulp them in a pestle and mortar and fold them through a sauce, such as a tapenade to go with lamb, she loves it. And she never has to know…”

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2. Red chillies

“Chillies are critical in all my cooking. I’m a sucker for a Scotch bonnet and a bird’s eye.”

3. Date syrup

date syrup Katz

“There’s a dark depth and sweetness that makes it a perfect alternative to a barbecue sauce. I like to finish a smoked short-rib with a glaze of this.”

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4. Cumin

“My favourite of all the spices. I almost use it like salt – it goes into everything. You cannot, cannot, make hummus without cumin.”

5. Pul biber

pul biber katz

“Say you’re cooking for a date for the first time, and want to add some spice but haven’t yet gauged how much heat they can handle. Pul biber’s your guy. It’s a dried red pepper flake that’s a little lighter on the heat than chilli flakes, and a safer bet.”

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6. Tahini

“This is my ketchup. I’m yet to find a protein that this doesn’t improve – roast lamb, barbecue chicken, anything. Tahini with lemon, garlic and a splash of water makes an amazing sauce.”

7. Preserved lemons

preserved lemons katz

“These have an unusual saltiness and acidity thing going on that’s difficult to find in anything else, and is a perfect match for fish and chicken.”

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8. Harissa 

“Want to bring some heat to a dish? I always go for harissa. I look for a slightly chunkier one with a deep, rich red colour – that tells me it’s not been heavily processed.”

9. Pomegranate Molasses 

date syrup katz

“Think of it as a Middle-Eastern equivalent to balsamic vinegar. It’s sharp and sweet and sour and salty, so hits all your taste spots. It’s my must-have for any salad or mezze dressing.”

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10. Biber Salcasi

“I use it in place of tomato purée. It’s a red-pepper paste with the power to take your spaghetti bolognese up a level.”