After the first full moon of May as the Spring turns to Summer the Spanish coastal towns from Tarifa to Conil watch in the splendour of Blue-fin tuna making their way from the cold Atlantic waters to warmer Mediterranean spawning grounds.
Their streamlined bodies having packed on blubber during the winter months make these massive Blue-fin tuna a mighty catch. Most are frozen and shipped to Japan at a hefty price but some are destined for the restaurants that line the south west coast of Andalusia and even make their way as far south as El Capote (Gibraltar)!
With plenty of newcomers to El Capote’s food and wine matching evenings, Ian and Chef Lede set out a fantastic menu to herald this fantastic fish. And may I say, what a treat was in store for us!
9 different fresh tuna courses. Tostas, Mojama, Brocheta, Sashimi, Tartar, Tataki, Galete, Lomo, Albondiga!
A modo de Tapas
- Tostas de Atún en manteca colorá de citricos y polvo de ibérico
Fresh tuna sitting on a toasted tortilla spread with lard that had been mixed with the zest and juice of an orange to cut through the fatty fish. Served with tiny pieces of cured Spanish ham which added a necessary salty intensity to the tuna. Beautiful.
- Salmorejo cordobés con Mojama de Atún y huevos de codorniz
This dish was delicious – sweet salmorejo that had cured meat and boiled egg served with. However, instead of cured jamón; mojama (cured tuna). The mojama cube adding salty seasoning to the intensely sweet salmorejo topped with a boiled quail’s egg. Simple and wonderful in one bite! And then finish the bowl of sweet, silky salmorejo. We had a competition on our table to see who could get their bowl the cleanest – if my memory (after all that wine) serves me correctly the winner was Owen – as I cheated and used my finger! Finger-licking-good!!
- Brocheta de Atún con espuma de soja
Tuna, wrapped in nori (maki roll) with pearled rice and fried. Served with a little wasabi sauce and soya cream. Originally meant to be a tempura dish, however some of the diners expressed the need for some dishes to be gluten-free. Therefore Ian with Chef Lede redesigned the finish to this dish so that it would still have the same structure with crispy pieces to provide contrast in texture. Just as tasty and gluten-free.
A modo de Japo-Andaluz
- Tartar de Atún, condimentos y mezclum de hierbas con nieve de manzana
A very light and delicate balance of flavours in this dish. The tuna tartar was sublime – accompanied by a tangle of zesty-green, fresh leaves. I was watching Chef Lede’s assistant add the green apple ‘snow’ to the dish; a workman should never blame his tools but the ‘snow’ was snowballing onto the plate as opposed to his anticipated light flutter. He did try to clear some of the snow-flurry off but his fingers literally ploughed through the delicate tartar! Perhaps creating an apple sorbet or freeze-drying the apple shavings previously would have created the desired effect. However, I loved this dish, I thought it would make a great light lunch or even a starter at a dinner party – fantastic.
- Sashimi de ventresca de Atún con helado de Wasabi y vinagreta de Yuzu
Tuna belly sashimi. Wasabi ice-cream. Yuzu vinaigrette. Sounds simple – but this dish got me very excited! The wasabi ice-cream sitting on top of the sashimi was such a clever touch to what was already a gorgeous dish. Tuna belly is a prized ingredient in sushi and sashimi – sometimes referred to as the ‘king of ingredients’ due to its rich, fatty flavour. The yuzu, a kind of japanese citrus fruit, with its aromatic, almost floral flavour provided a an acidic backnote to cut through the fatty tuna – absolutely delicious.
- Tataki de lomo negro de Atún con su ajoblanco – ajonegro
Tuna tenderloin of dark meat sitting on ajoblanco (aka white gazpacho: almonds, garlic, bread, water, oil and vinegar). The tenderloin was meaty and served in slices showing us the quality of the meat. Seared on the outside and quiveringly rare in the centre. The ajoblanco with its caviar and balsamic notes providing necessary tang and to what was otherwise a sublime dish.
beautiful, tasty, fantastic, absolutely delicious, sublime
I didn’t eat the ajonegro as the idea of bitter burnt garlic didn’t appeal to me – but then again was I meant to? And this is what I absolutely love about eating at El Capote on these evenings – it’s not just fuel consumption but a multisensory experience where diner must look, touch, smell, taste, think before taking the culinary plunge.
A modo de guisos de toda la vida pero a mi manera
- Lomo blanco de Atún en tomate con su pellejito
Tenderloin of white meat in a tomato sauce. Again another winner. We’ve all had tuna in tomato before. I used to have tuna in tomato with pasta as a student but never as good at this! It goes to show how the quality of the product is what Mediterranean cooking is all about – simple dishes where the product sets the standard for excellence.
- Patata de feria, Galete de Atún con papas en su papel de plata
“I’m sorry everyone but the next dish went a bit wrong. The foil paper that the potato is cooked in has stuck to the jacket skin – you’re going to have to peel it off but the inside is delicious!”
Was the voice of Ian as he served us up the next dish. With regulars heckling the man demanding a discount and newcomers trying to explain to their fellow diners that everything had been fantastic so far so they had no problem with this, the Patatas arrived at the table. A hush descended on the room…
…very clever. The foil was edible silver leaf! Cutting through the potato revealed flaked tuna (reminiscent of El Huerto De Lede). The potato sat in a light broth adding seasoning and flavour to the whole dish.
- Albóndiga de Atún encebollado
By now most of us couldn’t have thought of how else tuna was going to be served and then suddenly we were given a massive tuna meatball each! However, a delicious tuna meatball. An absolute shame that as we cut into the tuna meatball none of the eggs were runny as this would have been impressive on the eye but the flavour was still there. Delicious.
The entire evening’s menu degustacion of tuna dish upon tuna dish was deliriously excellent. However, if I have to pick the dish that was my favourite of the night it has to be the Tuna Tataki con su ajoblanco/ajonegro.
As a little bonus, we were given a dessert that wasn’t on the menu: pinenuts, vanilla ice-cream and basil sauce served with a parmesan melt. Fresh and zingy – an excellent way to liven the palate after the rich dishes we had just been given the pleasure to share with eachother.
What’s next? It’s surely got to be El Capote’s Greatest Hits. I know which ones would make my top 5 – which are yours?