Archive for the ‘Fish’ Category

Several years ago, I was taken to a hidden gem of a chiringuito (beach bar) which instead of being on ochre, sandy shores lapped by the azure blue waters of the Atlantic, was located on a raised promontory overlooking the beaches of Tarifa below.  Arriving for an early lunch, we chose to sit at a suspended table that gently swayed with the breeze, lulling us under the shade of the pine trees.

As romantic as this sounds, in hindsight, it was probably not the most convenient of places to sit at for lunch as between our crossed legs, our beach bags and cutlery there was hardly any room for the plates!  Salads and fish were ordered but there was one standout dish that I shall always associate it with that suspended table under the pine trees; atún encebollado.

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divinacocina

From what I could conceive at the time, it was just large cubes of fresh tuna cooked in an onion broth.  Both delicious and easy to recreate…or so I thought; having tried different versions of this at various restaurants and tapas bars.

I recently came across a youtube clip by Karlos Arguiñano, a chef from the Basque Country (Spain) who I used to watch on TV as a child, where he was preparing the dish, atún encebollado and decided it was time to give it a go myself.

I like the idea of serving this over potatoes but not chips, as happens in many tapas bars but roast potatoes just won’t do in this dish as you don’t want crunchy bits.  Pommes de terre à la boulangère, with a texture that almost dissolves into the bouillon is ideal as it mirrors the texture of the tuna.

Atún Encebollado with my cheat Pommes de Terre à la Boulangère

This dish has two parts – the tuna and the potatoes which I recommend are cooked indepedently of eachother.  Some recipes will ask for potatoes, tuna and onions be cooked simultaneously as a casserole but I’m not a fan of doing it this way.  Work with the potatoes first as this needs a longer cooking and is more forgiving should you need to do this ahead of time and won’t dry out should the dish need to sit for a while whilst you organise yourself with the tuna.  Use stock cubes/liquid bouillon to speed up the process.

Pommes de Terre à la Boulangère (my quick cheat version)

Ingredients:Potatoes-Boulangere

3 large potatoes
1 large white onion
2 garlic cloves
A sprig of thyme
2 Bay leaves
A glass of white wine/dry sherry
1/2 litre Vegetable stock
Butter
Oil
Salt and pepper

Method: 

1st: Slice the onion and sauté in oil and butter until translucent (5-10mins).
2nd: Slice the potatoes into thick slices; skin on and add to the onions. Sauté for 10mins.
3rd:  Deglaze the pan with a good glug of white wine.  Chop the garlic cloves and add to the pan with the thyme and bay leaves.  Season well and pour in the vegetable stock.
4th:Make sure the stock just covers the potatoes and simmer for 10-15mins.
5th: Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
6th: Butter the bottom and sides of an oven dish.  Add the potatoes, onion and stock and cook in the oven until the potatoes are tender and coloured on top.

Atún EncebolladoBonito-encebollado-1

Cook this once the potatoes have gone into the oven or at a later time.

Ingredients:

500g tuna
5 medium white onions
2 garlic cloves
1/2 litre of fish stock
A glass of white wine/dry sherry
1 Tspn pimentón (dulce)
1 Bay leaf
Butter
Oil
Parsley to decorate (optional)

Method:

1st: Slice the onions and sauté in oil and butter until translucent (5-10mins)
2nd: Deglaze the pan with a good glug of white wine.  Chop the garlic cloves and add to the pan with the bay leaf and the pimentón.  Season well and pour in the fish stock.
Simmer for approx 15mins making sure the pan does not dry out.
3rd: Cut the tuna steaks (I prefer using fatty tuna for a dish like this) into large chunks and add to the onions towards the end of the cooking time. Serve once cooked.

Note: If you prefer using tuna loin instead of fatty tuna, I recommend not adding this to the onions but to griddle it to your liking and then serve with the onions poured over.

Serve hot and as Karlos himself would say, “Rico, rico con fundamento.”

 

 

 

 

Poke Bowl

Posted: August 1, 2019 in America, bowl food, Fish, Food Porn
Tags: , , , , ,

Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl

IMG_0862Just the other day, a facebook memory popped onto my timeline and catapulted me back to my Summer holiday in Hawaii, July 2018.  A simple bowl of poke (pronounced Poh-Keh) scantily covered in sriracha mayonnaise, resting on sticky sushi rice and decorated with an avocado fan. Before you ask, yes, a lot of my holiday photos tend to be about food.  

Hawaiian food history and culture in a bowl.  A simple bowl of marinated, raw yellow-fin tuna.

Hawaiian poke has become as much of a defining element of Hawaiian culture as the surf board and floral shirt.

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The history of this simple, national Hawaiian dish dates back to pre-colonial Polynesian times and was created by local fishermen.  Hawaiians fished as and when they were hungry, and the catch of the day made for the perfect meal – indigenous, sustainable and fresh.  They took what they caught that day and preserved leftovers by slicing the fish, tossing with sea salt and “ogo” fresh seaweed to create the first ‘catch of the day’ poke. Poke literally means “to slice or cut” in Hawaiian.  This rudimentary poke has evolved from reef fish to “ahi” yellow-fin tuna and a variety of seasonings to include, “pahole fern” and “kuki nut” ingredients native to the islands.  However, since first contact with Asian and Western cultures, spring onions, chillies, avocados and soy sauce have become common additions to poke.

Fish generally found in poke bowls are tuna, salmon and pacific marlin (a cousin of the swordfish).  Octopus “he’e” is another island favourite.  Substitute seafood for tofu to make it vegetarian.

Poke is everywhere in Hawaii, you can buy it at grocery stores and beach shacks.

Hawaiians usually serve poke as a starter in place of a salad but if you want to make it a more wholesome bowl, serve it over rice like the Japanese rice bowl Donburi. However, for lighter versions serve over leafy greens or a kale salad, or substitute rice for quinoa.  The possibilities are as limiting as your imagination and palate. 

The basic components of the marinade are soy sauce and sesame oil but you can get creative with the dressing.  Sriracha mayo, wasabi mayo, freshly grated ginger juice, chopped chillies in soy, Japanese yuzu and rice vinegar. 

IMPORTANT: If using raw fish AVOID lime juice in the marinade as this will ‘cook’ the fish ceviche-style. Squeeze lime juice over before serving to freshen the dish.

With the Blue-fin tuna open season due to commence on 5th August – why not land yourself some fresh tuna and try making a simple blue-fin tuna poke bowl as a healthy lunch or light dinner?  Or better still, invite friends round for a DIY Poke Bowl Party – super easy and quick to prepare for a large crowd.

To create a poke bowl, you will need to get hold of sashimi-grade tuna/salmon.  Don’t freak out, all this means is that the fresh fish has been frozen to kill off any parasites and then defrosted ready to eat safely.  If you are fortunate enough to get fresh tuna from a local fisherman that gives it to you still warm and pulsing make sure to freeze this overnight before using it the following day.

Gastrorob’s Poke BowlIMG_4102

Ingredients

200g Sashimi-grade tuna
2 Spring onions
1/4 cup Soy sauce
1/3 cup Vegetable oil
2 Tbsp Sesame oil
150g Sushi rice
1/2 Ripe avocado
1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
Fresh ginger
1 Tbsp honey
Fresh Coriander
Limes 

Method:

1st: In a bowl, mix the soy sauce, vegetable oil, sesame oil, honey and grate in a thumb size piece of fresh ginger.  Chop the spring onions and add to the bowl.

2nd: Cut sashimi-grade tuna into bite-size chunks and add to the bowl.  Mix this gently and leave in the fridge for anything from 15mins to 1hour.

3rd: Use any rice you wish – I prefer using sushi rice which is slightly sweet and sticky once boiled and feels authentic but feel free to use any rice you have in your cupboard.

4th: Make the Sriracha mayonnaise by combining the sriracha sauce and mayonnaise and mixing well.  You may wish to slacken the mixture with some lime juice/water so that it’s easier to squeeze over the tuna.

5th: Plate up.  Serve the warm rice in a bowl and add the marinated tuna to the dish.  Place sliced/cubed avocado on the side and top with the green parts of spring onions and coriander.  If you have sesame seeds (white or black) these add great crunch to the dish. Chopsticks of fork – your choice.

Optional toppings are:

Screenshot 2019-08-01 at 00.06.10.pngAvocado: adding creaminess to the dish

Cucumber: for crunch

Edamame beans (steamed): for freshness and crunch

Mango: for sweetness and fruity punch

Radish: for crunch and pepperiness

Wasabi paste, pickled ginger, fresh ginger juice, chillies: for a spicy hit

Shredded nori seaweed: for greater umami and depth of flavour

Macadamia nuts (chopped): for crunch

If you love sushi as I do but can’t be bothered with the faff of rolling out maki rolls or don’t know where to even begin, take the plunge and dive into a poke bowl.

I’ve been meaning to try recreating a poke bowl since last Summer.  I am so happy with the results that I shall definitely be making this again.  I’m trying out different flavours and can’t wait to try Furikake Rice Seasoning that is being being brought to me direct from Japan! 

 

Who doesn’t like a good fajita? Strips of chicken or beef mingled with peppers and onions in a tex-mex salsa and wrapped into a flour tortilla, served with guacamole, cheese and sour cream drizzled over and freshened up with a spritz of lime.

taco faj burr

The fun being assembling them at the table. Everyone trying to see how loaded they can roll their tortilla wrap without it’s contents spilling from either end. If you prefer guacamole but not cheese it’s your decision to take – generally fajitas are a safe meal that everyone at the table can enjoy, spice them up with jalapeños, cool them down with sour cream. Everyone loves a good taco, especially children, it’s the whole eating with your hands and getting stuck in that appeals.

spice them up with jalapeños, cool them down with sour cream

Faja in Mexican means an underskirt. Fajita refers to the strips of meat, peppers and onions to be placed inside a tortilla to make a taco or burrito.

Originally, fajitas were made with skirt steak that required long, slow, low temperature cooking and this incredibly tender and flavoursome meat was then wrapped in a flour tortilla to make a taco. Nowadays people generally gravitate towards the chicken version as this can be easily put together midweek by working parents.

Increasingly, however, people are trying to eat less meat. Those who choose to go meat-free tend to be short changed with tacos as they will generally pick out the meat (stricter vegetarians will need their peppers and onions cooked separately) but either way, their taco will lack bulk and substance.

Just because you choose to go meat free doesn’t mean you should go hungry! A good way of bulking out a meat free taco is by using thick slices of sweet potato.

Sweet Potato Tacos

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Ingredients
1 Sweet potato
1 Red onion
1 Red pepper
1 Yellow pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp pimeñtón
Salt & pepper
Tortillas and any taco extras you wish

Method
1st: Slice the sweet potato, peppers and onion and mix together with the chilli powder, ground cumin and pimeñtón. Spread onto a sheet pan and bake at 180°C until the sweet potato is soft.

2nd: Warm a tortilla of your choice and fill with the vegetable mix. Add any taco essentials you wish from avocado to sour cream.

Another great taco filling that I’ve come across recently is fish. Yes, fish tacos are a thing; like a mexicana fish finger sandwich. Even though I used haddock, you can use any flakey white fish such as cod, halibut, pollock or even use king prawns or lobster.

Fish Tacos with mango salsa

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Ingredients
White fish fillets
1 Red onions
1 Red peppers
1 Mango
Limes
1 Jalapeño
Fresh Coriander leaves
1 tsp Cayenne pepper
1 tsp Ground cumin
1 tsp Ground coriander
Tortillas
1/4 Red cabbage
Salt & pepper

Method
1st: Place the fish fillets on a sheet pan and sprinkle with cayenne pepper, ground cumin and ground coriander. Squeeze some lime juice over the fish and allow to marinate for 15mins. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2nd: Make the mango salsa: chop the mango, the red onion, red pepper into similar sized pieces. Finely dice the jalapeño and mix everything together with lime juice and coriander leaves. Season with salt and pepper.

3rd: Bake the fish in the oven for 10 to 15 mins. Heat the tortillas, I used coconut tortillas which added a hint of tropical flavour to the overall dish.

4th: Assemble your taco with a fish fillet, mango salsa, shredded red cabbage, coriander leaves and a squeeze of lime.

And bite.

So why don’t you join me this week and chomp your way through Taco Tuesday?!

IMG-9263These are the sort of thing that you snack on quite easily without realising how many tails you are unashamedly stacking on the side of your plate!  Don’t be fooled, this is nothing like the whiff of Hawaiian Tropic sun lotion nor is it dessert-sweet – just a delicious morsel of crispy fried prawn with a tropical twist.  Actually, this would be perfect with pineapple rice on the side as a main dish.

1Kg of prawns easily serves 4 as a part of a mezze style table, however, depending on appetites depends on whether you’ll be fighting over the last prawn or calling it quits before sneakily stealing one last one before dessert.

Ingredients:

1Kg of uncooked grey prawns

1/2 cup of plain flour (all purpose)

1/2 tspn salt

1/4 tspn garlic salt

2 egg whites

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 cup dessicated coconut

Method:

1st: Remove the shell off the prawns leaving the tails in tact.  Devein the prawns and butterfly them.  Press down on the prawn using the back of a knife to flatten the prawn.

2nd: In one bowl mix the flour, salt and garlic salt.  In another whisk the egg whites and in a third bowl mix the panko breadcrumbs with the dessicated coconut.

3rd: Hold the prawn by its tail, and dredge it first through the flour mixture, then the egg whites and then the panko breadcrumb mixture.

4th: Place on a baking sheet and chill in the fridge for 30mins to an hour.

5th: Fry by your chosen method.  When shallow frying keep an eye on the colour of the oil and change as necessary.  Drain on kitchen paper

6th: Serve with chilli jam to dip the prawns in or a spritz of lime, or pineapple rice.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. would be happy to serve these in their restaurants!

 

Relaxed home cooking

What would you define as: relaxed home cooking?  For each of us the term will mean something different.  For some of us, relaxed home cooking will literally just be simple home cooking, for others it may be the one pot meal, the tray-bake or bowl-food, however, for some it may be something that requires meticulous or repetitive action which in itself can create a sense of calm.  Ultimately we will all have different benchmarks of what we perceive as relaxed home cooking; let’s be honest, some people can find the idea of walking into a kitchen stressful!

First of all, people need to make the distinction between what is easy and what takes a long time.

For me it is all about the familiar.

No matter how simple or complicated a recipe is to follow or a dish to recreate – if it’s familiar to me, getting immersed in its necessary activity will make it relaxed home cooking.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently as I’ve spent a lot of time cooking away from my own kitchen, however, never daunted nor panicked that it hasn’t been my kitchen, with my cupboards organised the way I have them back at home.  And I can only attribute this to the fact that the food was familiar.

The time away has taught me a few things and I’ve picked up a few kitchen tricks along the way too.

One of my new favourite dishes has to be homemade gin and tonic battered fish – or as I like to call it: fish and tonic!

Fish and Tonic

This is very easy to put together in mere moments but does require a deep fat fryer for optimum results.  The first time I made this, I measured all the ingredients accurately, however the second time I was looking out more for the consistency of the batter:

Ingredients:

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Relaxed home cooking: Fish and Tonic

200g plain flour
1 tspn baking powder
1 small can of chilled tonic water
1 shot of gin/vodka/cider vinegar*

*I left this out of the mixture on both occasions to very good results.

Coat your pieces of fish in the batter and deep fry.  Hold the fillet in the bubbling oil for 30 seconds until the fish fillet floats near the top then let the rest of the fillet dive into the oil.  If you drop the fish into the fryer it can stick to the wire basket at the bottom – flavour will be untarnished but the battered carapace will be torn.

Every time I served fish and tonic for dinner we would wolf the pieces of fish down!

Recently, I boiled cauliflower florets and sliced them before dunking them into the same batter recipe but replacing plain flour for chickpea flour and then mixing this with a teaspoon of cumin and turmeric.  As the cauliflower slices as smaller than fish fillets, they were easily shallow fried.

I never wanted a deep fat fryer before but after this I can see myself having to push, a new food processor, down my list of kitchen-gadget-priorities!

The beginning of summer heralds tuna from the Atlantic to make their way to the warmer spawning grounds of the Mediterranean.  As they swim along the western coastline of Southern Spain to cross through the Straits of Gibraltar they become ensnared in a maze of nets – the subsequent slaughter; Almadraba is an age old tradition practised in fishing villages from Conil to Tarifa since Phoenician times.

This method of catching tuna preserves the integrity of the animal’s meat which makes it as soft as butter to eat – hence why it is such a delicacy.

And if slicing this tuna and eating it sashimi style was not delicious enough, Chef Lede at El Capote, showcased 9 exquisite dishes to celebrate this glorious fish.

Atún de la Almadraba

The ideology behind a lot of the food served at these evenings is to challenge your culinary practices – anyone can cook a tuna steak – but can you think outside the box and create something different and innovative that is still a flavoursome tuna dish?

Once again Chef Lede pushed boundaries and broke culinary norms.  There was still an element of Asian influence in some of Chef Lede’s approaches; for example tuna sashimi sprayed with a mist of soya vinaigrette served with an intense spicy tomato relish.  Simple, clean but beautiful.  Or the decadent tuna tataki served with ajo blanco, kimchi and sushi sauce which I have to say was absolutely divine; my favourite dish.

The evening’s entertainment started with Chef Lede going round each table and assembling the first dish of Chicharrones de Atún (Tuna Scratchings) directly onto the centre of the table.  The tuna scratchings were delicious; salty, crispy and puffed in every bite, served with puffed corn crisps on a bed of fried breadcrumbs spiced with pimentón and olive oil caviar.  The creativity in this dish got everyone talking and buzzing with excitement as to what might be coming next.

The next dish was a subtle but savoury macaroon filled with smoked tuna and Manchego cheese.  At first bite the sweetness of the macaroon came through and some people were put off by this – however I found that the sweetness was very subtle and balanced the seasoning well.  I enjoyed this idea but would have liked it served warmer; I thought it could be an excellent dinner party starter – even though as delicate as macaroons are, one would be enough.

I had tried the following ‘tomatillo’ at Calentita where Chef Lede cooked at the Live Kitchen but there were some changes to the execution of this for the better.  Tomatillos de salmorejo con mojama, falsa tierra de migas y polvo de aceitunas (Salmorejo ‘tomatoes’ with salt cured tuna, served on a bed of breadcrumbs and black olive powder).  At Calentita the salmorejo was frozen almost slush-like and very cold; this time round the salmorejo was at room temperature and seductively oozed out of the tomato-shell and mingled with the mojama and the savoury breadcrumb and black olive rubble.  A delicious mouthful.

Tunafest Tuna TartareTuna and green apple tartare served on avocado and lime puree with scorched kimchi sauce was met with mixed reviews.  I personally would have liked the tuna to be minced further and the apple itself being less dominant in the dish – a quick grating of green apple might have achieved this.  I tend to like tartare dishes to have an almost vinegary tang to them and this was achieved mainly from the kimchi sauce rather than the apples themselves – perhaps the apples were not acidic enough?  Maybe some diced cornichons (which are normally served with steak tartare) might have given a more acidic note to the dish.  This however is purely a matter of opinion as the dish was well executed and the theatre of Chef Lede blow torching his way around El Capote was an added bonus.

Michelin starred peasant food at its best!

Callos de Atún followed and this really stumped everyone.  The magic behind this dish was in the fish sausage that was present in slices throughout the dish.  Not just adding flavour that you would normally associate with callos but texture.  The pescetarians as our table were very confused as to whether they would eat it or not and even started picking out the pieces of tuna sausage; however, once reassured that there was no meat in any of the dishes they dived back in, scraping the bowl and wanting more!

 

Ventresa de atún (tuna belly) served with ‘onion rings’ was another piece of theatre as there were two stocks.  The first being the
solid rings of stock placed on the dish, the other served hot in shot glasses where each guest needed to pour over the stock over their dish, melting the ‘onion rings’ and warming the slightly cooked dish.

Tuna belly also known as fatty tuna is the most succulent and flavoursome part of the fish and is seen as a delicacy in Japan.

Galete de atún guisado como un rabo de toro Andaluza surprised me with its rich and intense flavours.  I am assuming that the flesh at the tail end of the tuna was used for this dish and not necessarily that the dish was cooked as you would prepare oxtail; either pressure cooking or slow cooking for many hours.

The 9 tuna dishes presented to us were of a very high standard and each one delicious in its own right.  I felt that this year Chef Lede and Ian managed the serving of courses much better than they did at their previous tuna event and it is very impressive to think that in little old El Capote 320 plates were served over the course of the evening to an appreciative crowd.

Dessert will remain unmentioned as there was no tuna in it!

If there is anyone who would have liked to have attended a tuna inspired evening as above, let myself or El Capote know as there are only a few more weeks available of Atún de la Almadraba.

Tuna that cuts like butter!

 

 

 

Saturday morning.  8am. Body clock still set.  Coffee to kick start the wake up process.  Pottering around the house and finally surfing and checking the latest news on social media.  And there it was.  A phone number.  I dialled…  “Do you have any left? …I’m on my way!”

My summer began beckoned to Coaling Island.  What mystical attraction reeled me in?

tunaTUNA

Social media is a great thing.  A family member had posted that local fishing enthusiasts were selling their catch off their boats and posted a phone number.  I called and arranged that I’d swing by to pick up a couple of kilos of their recently caught tuna.

Unfortunately when I got there he had sold out.  So I made my way along the pontoon to another lucky fishing enthusiast.  I watched avidly as a recently caught tuna was moved from boat to pontoon.  Having already put in my claim for 2 kilos worth of fresh tuna I lingered whilst a team of men cleaned, sliced and prepared bags of tuna to sell to the first who turned up.  “6 kilos! Two bags with 5 kilos in each! My restaurant wants…”

3.8Kg of tuna later I made my way home thinking of all the delicious recipes I was going to create with ‘my’ catch.  Most however were going to involve a tuna steak; grill marked and quiveringly rare or cubed and made into pinchitos.

No exciting sauces – none needed when the product is this fresh.

I went to work cutting the 3.8Kg hunk of tuna into decent sized steaks ready for my tuna dinners throughout the summer.  I made tuna steakssure to cut a chuck off that I was going to use immediately in an experiment: maki sushi rolls.

I have never made my own maki rolls before but they are remarkably simple to make.  All you need is a bamboo rolling mat, nori (dried seaweed sheets) and any fish/veg/meat that you wish to use.   Most supermarkets stock these items but Ramsons stocks all of the asian components needed.

The most important thing to get right when making sushi rolls is the rice.  Make sure to buy sushi rice which is more glutinous once cooked.  Once cooked, add rice vinegar with dissolved sugar and salt.  Mix it well and set to cool.  Chop the cucumber into batons, slice spring onions and cut the avocado into slices (I didn’t have any ripe avocadoes so left them out.) Sesame seeds to either sprinkle over or use around some types of maki roll are an optional extra.  Pickled ginger as a palate cleanser, soy for dipping and wasabi to spice it up make the whole experience more authentic.

Please note: Sushi recipes will always ask for “Sushi-grade” tuna/salmon.  This is fish that has been frozen for at least 7 days at -20˚C to kill any parasites.  However, bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna and farmed salmon are exceptions.

sushi1

Considering how easy it was to make I will definitely be trying to make these maki rolls again.  It would be something fun to do with other people round: DIY Dinner.  If you’re up for a night of sushi making let me know – the combinations are endless.

マグロ真紀ロール – おいしい!