Book review: Three

By Restaurant

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Oklava chef Selin Kiazim's second cookbook Three takes a deep dive into the building blocks of successful dishes

Related tags Book review Selin Kiazim Oklava

Oklava chef Selin Kiazim's second cookbook takes a deep dive into the building blocks of successful dishes.

Restaurateurs have been feeling the effects of Brexit over the past couple of years, hit by rising costs, challenge with supplies and a lack of staff, but for Selin Kiazim these haven’t been the only problems. Publication of the Oklava chef’s second book was delayed by a Brexit-related paper shortage meaning that it is only hitting shelves now having been penned a while back. You couldn’t make it up.

Now finally available, Three​ takes a deep dive into acid, texture, and contrast, which Kaizim describes as the ‘magic elements’ that make a plate of food come into its own. Split into two parts, the first half of the book deals with each element - or building block – first with an introduction and then a rundown of various glazes, dressings and condiments that put the theory into practice.

The book is said to provide the essential foundations to redefine everyday cooking to help people make the leap from following a recipe to the exact detail to gently veering off course with confidence and learning to put their own stamp on dishes. Kiazim attempts this by first laying down the foundations, exploring aspects such as acid as a balancing agent (no two acids are the same, she counsels), the omnipresence of texture and why contrast is so important in making dishes actually ‘work’. Users of the book are then required to combine these teachings, to cook and then to scrutinise their results – does the dish work? If so, what makes it work? If not, why? What is it lacking? When these questions can finally, and confidently be answered, she will have achieved her goal.

As for the recipes themselves, which begin on page 90, they are broken down into 10 chapters including fruit, nuts, seafood, poultry and meat, roots and tubers, and nightshades and mushrooms. Each chapter has around five to seven recipes, most of an Asian or Middle Eastern persuasion, where the marriage of acid, texture and contrast is often at its most interesting and effective.

Parallels can be drawn between Three​ and Samin Nosrat’s seminal Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat,​ which also breaks down the process of cooking into a small number of elements and which attempts to liberate the user from sticking slavishly to recipes. With Three​, however, Kiazim doesn’t dig as deep in terms of techniques or in the science behind cooking as Nosrat’s more instructional tome, making it more of an everyday cookbook, and a very good one at that.

Three: Acid, texture, contrast
Author:​ Selin Kiazim
Number of pages:​ 255
Must try recipe:​ Smoked haddock, leeks, and sherry caramel
Publisher and price:​ Hardie Grant, £25

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