Two for one: Sumac

This new column by Rosie Lovell, owner of Rosie’s Deli, will give two simple recipes for one back-of-the-cupboard ‘lurker’ every month, from Szechuan peppercorns to dried mushrooms. This month’s culprit is sumac, a very tasty spice from the middle east


Bloody wood ear mushrooms! Half a jar of Szechuan pepper corns? A leaking bag of ground cardamom without a clothes peg…. These are just a few of the ‘lurkers’ as I call them: those ingredients you bought because you decided to meticulously follow a long-winded or complex recipe that called for specific, non-generic produce. And then you are lumbered with these pesky ingredients with no idea what else to do with them. They lurk, winking at you every time you open the spice draw or the rice cupboard.

This column is here to help you. Here to relieve you of the cumbersome lurkers and inspire a few new recipes in the process. Take one lurker and I will give you two recipes. It’s a deal. As I look around my kitchen, the first culprit in the lurkers category is Sumac, that wonderful spice from the middle east and Turkey. Bright red with a tinge of blue it is a dusty texture but sharp has lemon juice. Popular with Ottolenghi, this spice is great in dressings, with grains and also of course with fish, chicken and eggs. Balance with a little sugar of fruit.

Sumac dressed salad

sumac salad
Sumac-dressed salad

The apple juice here really balances the citrine sumac flavour and works well over crunchy salads with apple and celery and masses of herbs.

30ml apple juice

60ml extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp English mustard powder

a pinch of salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp fresh dill, chopped

In a jar, combine all of the dressing ingredients. Shake vigorously. Pour over chopped celery, apple, toasted walnuts and shredded carrot.

BBQ fish spice rub


This mix is particularly good on mackerel, popular in the Istanbul ports, the ultimate fisherman’s snack. Work the spices well into your fish for maximum flavour. The allspice berries work wonders with the sumac here, so don’t cut corners!

1 heaped tsp sumac

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp Maldon sea salt

½ tsp chilli flakes

6 allspice berries, crushed

4 fresh mackerel fillets

Combine the spices together in a bowl and mix well. Scatter over a plate and press your fish, flesh side down, into the rub. Leave to sit for half an hour. Pan-fry the mackerels in a little oil for 4 minutes on the skin side and one on the flesh/spice rub side. Serve with lemon and crusty bread.

Rosie Lovell runs Rosie’s Deli Cafe, 14 Market Row. You can buy her book ‘Spoon With Rosie’ online here and find her on and




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