Chef Illias at Elia

We sample Greek chef's cuttlefish with almira and sorrel

Chef Ilias Kokoroskos
Chef Ilias Kokoroskos
Cuttlefish with almira and sorrel
Cuttlefish with almira and sorrel
Fillet and cut the cuttlefish julienne-style, and place in the fridge.
Fillet and cut the cuttlefish julienne-style, and place in the fridge.
Clean the almira, the sorrel leaves and the amaranthus, then put them to one side. Chop the spring onion.
Clean the almira, the sorrel leaves and the amaranthus, then put them to one side. Chop the spring onion.
Sautée the cuttlefish and add the spring onion.
Sautée the cuttlefish and add the spring onion.
When it’s almost cooked, remove from heat and add the pine seeds, the cheese and the dill.
When it’s almost cooked, remove from heat and add the pine seeds, the cheese and the dill.
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Describe your personality.
I have a creative flair and I love to explore new things. I’m a simple guy at heart, but I never rest on my laurels.

Describe your personality in the kitchen.
I’m restless in the kitchen, and I mean that in a good way – I have a need to explore and a thirst for new flavours. My whole personality is moulded by the kitchen. It doesn’t change per se, it just expresses itself fully, because the kitchen is my natural habitat.

Describe you cooking style.
My cooking is creative, but steeped in traditional elements.

What items do you have in your fridge at home?
I have a small fridge, but it contains what you’d find in an average Greek household: feta, wild greens, fruits and vegetables, fish, milk, eggs, olives (of course), and a lot of chocolate!

What was the last dish you cooked for yourself?
To be honest, I don’t remember, but it probably didn’t differ much from the dishes I cook in the restaurant. I don’t really like to cook for myself – I like to cook for my friends, my family and especially for people who love Greek food, or for those who have never tried it before.

So what was the last dish you had cooked for you?
My friend cooked me a nice curry, which isn’t very widespread in my home country! It was a real treat.

What one dish could you happily eat for the rest of your life?
There’s no single dish that comes to mind, but something I couldn’t live without would be olive oil – Greek and extra-virgin, preferably. I’d be at a complete loss without it.

What dish would you be happy never to eat again?
The truth is, there’s nothing I don’t eat. I’m so curious and like to explore new tastes so much that I’d try anything again and again. Even if for some reason something didn’t sit well with me at a particular time or when cooked in a particular way, I’d like to think I’d always give it another shot. When it comes to trying things, never say never.

What dish would you be happy to never have to cook again?
A very traditional Greek dish called kokoretsi, but only because it takes 14 hours to prepare.

Describe Dubai’s dining scene in three words.
Flavoursome, multinational, monotonous.

If you weren’t a chef, you’d be…
A farmer.
Elia, Majestic Hotel Tower, Bur Dubai (04 501 2690).

Cuttlefish with almira and sorrel

‘This recipe began with an experiment to see whether the combination of raw wild greens and herbs would blend with something as tricky as cuttlefish. It worked – one of my customers who ate only vegetables began to eat seafood after trying this dish. You can buy cuttlefish in a lot of places, but my advice is to go to the fish market to get the best prices and freshest produce. You’ll also find all of the greens and herbs on sale at the fish market near Al Shindagha Tunnel.’

Ingredients
200g fresh cuttlefish fillet
Sorrel leaves
50g almira (similar to salicornia)
10g pine seeds
5g graviera cheese or parmesan
15g olive oil
10g amaranthus
25g spring onion
5g dill leaves
Salt and pepper, to season

Method
1 Fillet and cut the cuttlefish julienne-style, and place in the fridge.
2 Clean the almira, the sorrel leaves and the amaranthus, then put them to one side. Chop the spring onion.
3 Sautée the cuttlefish and add the spring onion.
4 When it’s almost cooked, remove from heat and add the pine seeds, the cheese and the dill.
5 Place on a plate and top with the greens (amaranthus, almira and sorrel leaves), then drizzle with olive and lemon to serve.

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