Merluza and Leeks in White Wine

14 10 2012

You should be eating more leeks. They’re cheap, available everywhere, and low in calories, plus their taste basically turns into butter upon sautéing in a smear of olive oil. Leeks can be used anywhere you’d use an onion, which is to say, at the beginning of practically every kitchen preparation known to man.

Don’t let the whiskers put you off. David Lebovitz demystifies the beard.

Whitefish loves leeks. This one is a merluza (hake) filet, and has been steamed over said sautéed leeks, garlic, dill, and a glug of white wine. Add S&P, drizzle with EVOO, and begin anxiously anticipating tomorrow so you can eat it again.

Merluza and Leeks in White Wine
ganked from Mark Bittman.

1 leek
4 cloves garlic
olive oil
dill, or thyme – I actually liked the thyme better. Bittman suggests basil.
1/3 c white wine
merluza filet

1. Clean your leek, then roughly chop it. Mince the garlic and toss it into a frying pan with the leek and a splash of olive oil over medium heat. Add some S&P. You want to “sweat” the leek – soften it and allow it to develop a beguiling complexity of flavor, but not overtly brown it.

2. Toss in your herb of choice followed by the white wine. Let the liquid come to a simmer, then lay the merluza atop its leeky bed. Crack some pepper over it. Turn down the heat if needed, cover, and let steam for 3-5 minutes depending on the thickness of the filet.

3. Guild the lily with a drizzle of EVOO. Devour with a chilled glass of white.

Pan-Fried Fish with Blood Orange, Avocado, Red Onion, and Serrano Pepper Salsa

22 01 2012

Madrileños, are you taking advantage of your proximity to this season’s sanguinellos?

This simple salsa kicks and screams with the tart blood orange juice, only mildly mellowed by its avocado partner-in-crime. I also minced up a fresh Serrano pepper a friend of mine smuggled in for me direct from Mexico; its seductive heat hums away steadily in the background.

Pan-Fried Fish with Blood Orange, Avocado, Red Onion, and Serrano Chile Salsa
more or less from epicurious

2 blood oranges, chopped
1 smallish ripe avocado, cubed
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 fresh Serrano chile pepper, minced
white fish of choice – pescadilla or tilapia would work well here, I used panga
flour for dredging
limes for squeezing

1. Toss the blood oranges, avocado, onion, and chile together; add salt to taste.

2. Dry your fish completely with paper towels and dredge in salt-n-peppered flour. Fry in olive oil til it develops a lovely golden crust.

3. Top fish with salsa. Serve with lime wedges and brown jasmine rice.

edit: Ugh. Okay, this was still mad delicious, but I’m never ever buying panga again.

Happy Monday Bouillabaisse

13 12 2010

As I lie in bed this lazy Monday morning, I muse on the excellence of the early day off. Stray thoughts enter and exit my cerebrum without consequence, until one suddenly sticks. I must make bouillabaisse.

I learn the words for fennel (hinojo) and leek (puerro), which Mercadona shockingly keeps in constant stock. Hector mashes together a magnificently garlicky rouille, and the hake purchased from my local fishmonger (Ina Garten, eat your heart out!) is ever-so-gently simmered towards flaky tomato-broth perfection. Today I remove my first-ever mussel beards.

Marta comes home to a piso overflowing with soupe de poisson. We pour the remaining chilled white wine, and together we feast.

Recipe here, although I changed it significantly. A good 2/3 of my broth was white wine, and I added both puréed tomatoes and tomato paste for more punch. A squeeze of lemon juice brightened up the essential seafoodiness, and I didn’t do any straining nor blending of the veggies. It is a seriously forgiving soup. Try it.

Cooking, Spanish-Style: Round 1

3 10 2010

After the exquisite lunchfeast in Toledo, I feel inspired to dabble in the realm of Spanish cuisine. My reasons for not doing so before are twofold:

1. In Thailand, it is a bit on the foolish side for a foreigner to cook any variety of Thai food at home – it’s quicker, cheaper, and likely more delicious to buy it from the street. This isn’t the case in Spain, and I’ve had to adjust my thinking.

2. I’ve never been impressed by tortilla española.

Eating with Alvaro is a beautiful reminder that there are many facets to every branch of cuisine, and that there is a whole host of very good reasons why Spanish food is currently so in vogue. Family-style dining is popular and fairly inexpensive if you manage it right, and the range of flavors is decent, especially when it comes to regional specialties.

Our unanimous favorite from Toledo is asadillo manchego, a cold tomato-based dish with hard-boiled eggs, salty fish, and piquillo peppers. It’s the natural sweetness of the peppers that catches the tongue off-guard; it pairs lovingly with the fruity overtones of olive oil.

It’s certainly not the most high-profile Spanish dish, which is perhaps what causes such difficulty in encountering a proper recipe online (the one I’ve linked insists on the use of something called a “Thermomix Varoma”…). We first find the dish lacking in acidity; a few squeezes of an unconventional lime help brighten the mix, but it’s still lacking in magic. We munch it regardless. Interestingly, after the few remaining bites have sat in their own juices for about thirty minutes, the flavors seem to have developed – most notably that of the dash of cumin. I’ll be trying this one again, next time preparing it in advance to see what happens.

I remember loving a rice dish my Valencian host made me a few years back that included the combination of garbanzo beans and raisins, which I never would have thought to put together. The internet informs me that arroz con pasas y garbanzos is well-known as a Valencian specialty. My version includes chicken, because everyone likes extra protein, and lacks colorante alimentario, because no thank you.