Kitchen capers

August 2, 2009

capers2Regular visitors here will know that salt is one of my most particular friends. Hence a very close and loving relation to that friend is the humble caper, which surely must also be filed under essential ingredients.

The caper, I learn here, is the immature flower bud of the caper bush, Capparis spinosa. Either pickled in brine or preserved in salt, as you will all know very well, the caper is an essential zing thing for a great many dishes. I tend to go for the salted babies, although the briny version are just fine if you can’t get the salted ones. And I’ve just found this site about Australian capers, which are apparently even more intense in flavour than the imported ones, which can only be a good thing!

Capers seem to have some quite direct root into my memory, for some reason – must be the piquancy of that little flavour bomb that takes me instantly to a few great holiday food moments: a Rottnest Island picnic of sourdough slathered with creme fraiche, smoked salmon and capers with a squeeze of lemon; or a plate of roasted red pepper strips dotted with luscious capers in Greece … sigh.

pinenuts etc currants olives capersAnyhoo, I was reminded of the caper today because I made again the Neil Perry zucchini ‘lasagne‘ that uses the classic combo (Sicilian, I think?) of capers, breadcrumbs, red onion, pine nuts and currants, which looked soo beautiful together I had to take this snap before assembly.

Another easypeasy bit of capery goodness I make regularly is a little dollop to accompany panfried or barbecued fish fillets – some good creamy yoghurt with lots of chopped capers, very finely chopped soft-leafed herbs (coriander, basil, parsley), a smidgin of honey and an anchovy or two.

Now your turn: what do you do with capers that I should know about?


  1. I reckon they’re yummy fried and scattered over things like pan fried leatherjacket or veal scallopine. Frying dries the capers out a bit, crisps them up and intensifies their flavour.

  2. Oooh yes and they open out into their little flowers. Hmm, I feel a chicken breast with fried capers and lemon coming on for post woodwork-class dinner …

  3. Hello, Charlotte – we met v briefly at Varuna a couple of months ago when I was hearing some wise words from Peter, and you made a flying visit en route to somewhere else.

    Your capers post reminds me to dust off a fantastic Tetsya Wakuda recipe – five minute prep and forget. Put 2 no. 5 spatchcocks – halved, seasoned w salt and pepper – into a deep baking dish, skin side up. Pour over 700ml dry white wine, scatter in 20 black olives, 2 tbsp rinsed salted capers, half tbsp chopped oregano, 4 finely chopped cloves garlic. Pour a little olive oil over the birds. Bake in pre-heated 200C oven for an hour until skin golden. Can baste or ignore. Serve w some cooking liquid (can reduce or not), olives etc, and chopped flat leaf parsley.

    Agree with your defence of salt! Heart sinks when friends misguidedly cut down on salt (or fat) in their cooking. This is from Marcella Hazan:
    ‘To shrink from an adequate use of salt is to leaved unmined the deep-lying flavours of food. A pernicious consequence of the unjustified fear of salt is that our sense of taste, though lack of exercise, becomes atrophied and we fail to reject as resolutely as we ought the savourless food we are served or led to prepare.’ Hooray!

  4. Hi Fiona, and welcome welcome. I do clearly recall my barging in on your meeting and your forbearance and I certainly do hope you will be a regular dropper-in here – love the spatchy recipe and the MC quotes; I think howtoshuckanoyster and you can be great friends with these tidbits, thankyou! Also you have reminded me of cookbooks I need – I lack Marcella Hazan and many others … see you back here soon I hope.

  5. That lasagna looks bloody good. Tea on sat i think.

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