Pimientos de Padrón

Lovely and Simple Starter

Pimientos de Padrón are mild, sweet tasting and small green peppers, originally from the Galicia region in Spain, but now widely available in Spain and Portugal. Story has it that one in a hundred (or more?) is actually very spicy, but rest assured, we have eaten many more and never encountered a spicy one. Ask your greengrocer for these lovely peppers because we’re sure you will enjoy them.

Wine Pairing

We would suggest drinking a Vinho Verde with the Pimientos de Padrón. Vinho Verde is a wine from the most northern part of Portugal, between the Douro and Minho rivers. Verde refers to the fact that the grapes are harvested very early in the year. This implies that the grapes contain a fairly small amount of sugar. As a result of this the wine (in most cases) has a fairly low percentage of alcohol (think 10%). But don’t be surprised if you find one with a higher percentage.

About Vinho Verde

In general we feel Vinho Verde is undervalued. It’s a great, very taste wine; one that is not just wonderful on a summers evening.
Vinho Verde is not a wine to store, so make sure you buy one from the most recent harvest.
Most Vinho Verde wines are white. They tend to have a very subtle bubble. The taste is light, floral and the wine comes with some clear acidity.
We also found a rosé and a red Vinho Verde. Seldom have we seen a wine with such an intense colour! To balance the acidity of the red Vinho Verde you must be combined with fat meat or rich sauces. We combined it with grilled Secreto of Iberico pork, which is a treat in its own right. Secreto is a thin, juicy cut from acorn fed, free range Iberico pigs.

Secreto

As an extra: for two people buy 300 grams of Secreto. In a way the structure of the secreto resembles skate. One side of the secreto will look nice, fat and meaty, the other may look like if you have to remove extra fat. Which is exactly what you need to do! After having done that, heat a heavy grill pan (or the barbeque) and grill the meat for 4 times one minute, creating a nice pattern. The cuisson should be rosé. It’s not a problem if the thinner parts of the secreto are well done because the meat will be very juicy anyway, thanks to the fat. Serve with a sautéed courgette. The bitterness and the sweetness of the courgette combines really well with the juicy secreto. The red Vinho Verde will balance the fat and will turn the combination of secreto and courgette into an intriguing dish.

What You Need

  • Pimientos de Padrón
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt

What You Do

Clean the Pimientos de Padrón and dry the peppers. Heat a heavy skillet, add olive oil and fry the peppers for a few minutes. Make sure they are fried but not cooked. Sprinkle some sea salt over the Pimientos de Padrón, fry for a few seconds making sure the salt is somewhat adsorbed in the olive oil. Serve immediately.

Last Week’s Special – 36

Squid with Tomatoes and Red Wine

Don’t you love crispy Calamari with a glass of Pinot Grigio? A summer evening is ideal, but they are equally nice on a cold, winter’s evening. Such a wonderful combination, fried squid and crispy white wine. That is, if your Calamari is made of squid.

Go to your local supermarket and look for frozen Calamari. Interesting. All perfectly shaped, all perfectly the same size. Now go to your local fishmonger and buy (frozen) squid. How to cut perfect, similar sized rings from squid? Simple, you can’t.

Another interesting question: what happened to the tentacles?

If you prepare your own Calamari from fresh squid you will have rings (made from the mantle) in various sizes and shapes plus you will have tentacles and fins.
If you buy factory-produced ready to fry or eat Calamari you could be eating the real thing, but you could also be eating a fried mixture of left over squid, octopus, fish, flower and E-numbers. And to reduce your appetite for Calamari even more: factories treat the squid with sodium bicarbonate (and probably other chemicals) to make the meat softer. Bon Appétit!

Time to start cooking

The stew is a combination of squid, tomatoes, red wine and bay leaf, supported by shallot and garlic. The red wine in combination with the natural colour of the squid will help create a dark velvet red colour. This will take some time, but that’s fine, in the mean time the meat of the squid will become nice, tasty and soft. Bay leaf is essential. Feel free to add more. We finish the dish with parsley, just to give it an extra sharpness.

We enjoyed our stew as a starter with a glass of Inycon Estate, made of Viognier and Chardonnay. Inycon Estate is an international brand of Cantine Settesoli, a Sicilian wine producer. They produce a nice range of affordable wines, such as Nero D’Avola, Pinot Grigio and Shiraz. The combination of Viognier and Chardonnay works really well. The wine is both fruity, fresh and full-bodied.
When you eat the stew as a main, you could go for a light, cool, red wine. Not too complex because the stew is rather powerful.

Preparing squid

Buy a kilo of squid. In most cases the squid will be frozen, but that’s fine. The process of cleaning squid is simple and a bit messy. Not smelly by the way.

  1. Start by removing the head from the body. When you do this gently, you will also remove most of the internal organs of the squid.
  2. You may want to secure the ink for later use.
  3. Just below the eyes, cut off the tentacles using a knife or scissors. Remove the beak (located at the base of the tentacles). Discard internal organs and beak. Transfer the tentacles to a bowl.
  4. With your fingers remove the cartilage (this is the part that looks like it is made of plastic).
  5. Remove the skin of the mantle and fins. Best is to start in the middle and then gently pull the skin towards the top and bottom. Discard the skin.
  6. Remove the fins and transfer to the bowl with tentacles.
  7. Turn the mantle inside out by pushing the top into the mantle. This allows you to remove all internal organs and the membrane.
  8. Turn the mantle outside in by pushing the top into the mantle. Cut the mantle into rings and transfer to the bowl.
  9. Wash the rings, fins and tentacles with cold water.

Here is what you need

  • 1 kilo Squid (to be cleaned)
  • Olive Oil
  • Shallot
  • 2 Garlic Gloves
  • Red Chilli
  • 500 grams of Excellent Red Tomatoes (peeled, seeded and cut in chunks)
  • Red Wine
  • Two Fresh Bay Leaves
  • Black Pepper
  • Parsley

Use a heavy, iron skillet for this stew. Cut the shallot in small bits and glaze gently in olive oil. Once the shallot is glazed add the garlic and the chilli. After a few minutes add the squid (rings, tentacles and fins). Let the liquid reduce for a few minutes, and then add the tomatoes, a glass of red wine and the bay leaf. Allow to slowly simmer for 4 hours. If necessary add a splash of water. Stir every 15 minutes. Just before serving add black pepper (be generous) and some parsley.
Serve with crusty bread (as a starter) or with red rice.

Last Week’s Special-20

Rape a la Marinera or Monkfish Spanish Style with Verdejo (Monteabellon Rueda 2016)

In October 2016 Jamie Oliver was criticised for making paella the wrong way. He dared adding chorizo to one of the most Spanish dishes ever. Paella should be rabbit, snails, chicken, beans, saffron and rice. How dare he insult all of Spain by adding chorizo to such a traditional recipe! Naked chef or not, ambassador of healthy food or not, no one touches Paella.

Which triggers the intriguing question what is actually traditional and original. Isn’t traditional sashimi salmon, tuna and sea bream? Isn’t it?
In the 1970s, Japan did not import a single piece of fish. Salmon would first be marinated in sake and then salted or dried before being grilled. In these days in Japan salmon was always wild salmon and not eaten raw because of the possibility of parasites in raw wild salmon. So salmon was not used for sushi and sashimi. That all started to change in the 1980s after a Norwegian seafood delegation visited the country and Project Japan started. In 1980 the first salmon was imported and it took until 1995 for the public to accept raw salmon for sushi and sashimi. Today salmon is the sushi fish of choice among young Japanese.

Going back to Paella: how often did you have snails in your paella?

Rape a la Marinera is among our favourites because it’s all about monkfish, which is such a tasty fish. It can be compared with lobster (but we admit, you need a bit of imagination). The monkfish is presented with a generous tomato sauce, gamba, vongole’s and bread. What better way to enjoy life!

We very much enjoyed a glass of Spanish Verdejo. In our case a bottle of Monteabellon Rueda 2016. In general wines made from the Verdejo grape combine very well with fish. The wine comes with the right acidity, giving freshness to the wine. It has floral aromas typical for the Verdejo grape. You may recognize the aromas of banana and exotic fruit.

In this recipe we will probably do a few things very wrong, but never mind, simply don’t tell you Spanish friends.

The day before serving Rape a la Marinera we make the tomato sauce.

Here is what you need:

  • 4 Excellent Ripe Tomatoes
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • ½ Chilli
  • 1 Onion
  • Olive oil
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • ½ Glass Red Wine
  • 1 Anchovy Fillet
  • Few Black Olives
  • Bouquet Garni (Parsley, Thyme, Rosemary, Bay Leaf)

Prepare the tomatoes by peeling them, removing all the pits and slicing the remaining meat. What’s left over goes into a sieve and with a spoon you squeeze out the juices. You will be amazed how much juice you will get (and how little is left from the tomatoes). Peel the onion and cut in smaller bits. Add olive oil to the pan and glaze the onion for 10 minutes or so. Add the chopped garlic clove. Stir a bit and then add the sliced bell pepper and the sliced chilli. Let cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes or so. Add the halved olives, the sliced anchovy fillet and the sliced tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, add the tomato juice, the red wine and the bouquet garni. Leave for 2 hours to simmer. Reduce is so required.
Remove the bouquet garni, blender the sauce and transfer to the refrigerator.

Now for the Rape a la Marinera:

  • Monkfish
  • Olive Oil
  • Optional
    • Bay Leaf
    • Saffron
  • 2 Gamba’s (large Shrimps)
  • Vongole (clams, Vongola Veraci)
  • White wine
  • Bouquet Garni

Start by cleaning the monkfish and removing the skin where necessary. Clean the gamba’s by removing the intestinal tract. Leave the head and the tail. Check the vongole and discard ones that are broken. In general vongole don’t need much cleaning. As for spaghetti vongole, buy clams that are a touch sweet and juicy. Vongola Verace is best for both dishes.
In a large skillet fry the monkfish. When coloured add the sauce. Cook the fish by warming the sauce and covering the fish with the sauce. Maybe you want to add a bay leaf or two. A bit of saffron is a great addition but be careful; saffron can be very overpowering. In parallel add some white wine to a pan with a bouquet garni, let cook for 5 minutes. This is the cooking liquid for the vongole.
Now it’s about timing: add the gamba to the sauce and cook fish and gamba to perfection. Just before that moment, add the vongole to the pan with white wine, close the lid, cook for a few minutes until you see steam coming from the pan, remove the lid, check the vongole, add some vongole juices to the sauce with the monkfish and gamba’s, stir, taste, maybe add a bit more vongole juices and finally add a touch of pepper.
Serve with crusted bread.

 

 

Last Week’s Special – 6

Pimientos de Padron

Such a lovely and simple starter! Pimientos de Padron are mild, sweet tasting and small green peppers, originally from the Galicia region in Spain, but now widely available in Spain and Portugal. Story has it that one in a hundred (or more?) is actually very spicy, but rest assured, we have eaten many more and never encountered a spicy one. Ask your greengrocer for these lovely peppers because we’re sure you will enjoy them.

We would suggest drinking a Vinho Verde with the Pimientos de Padron. Vinho Verde is a wine from the most northern part of Portugal, between the Douro and Minho rivers. Verde refers to the fact that the grapes are harvested very early in the year. This implies that the grapes contain a fairly small amount of sugar. As a result of this the wine (in most cases) has a fairly low percentage of alcohol (think 10%). But don’t be surprised if you find one with a higher percentage.

In general we feel Vinho Verde is undervalued. It’s a great, very taste wine; one that is not just wonderful on a summers evening.

Vinho Verde is not a wine to store, so make sure you buy one from the most recent harvest.

Most Vinho Verde wines are white. They tend to have a very subtle bubble. The taste is light, floral and the wine comes with some clear acidity.
We also found a rosé and even a red Vinho Verde. Seldom have we seen a wine with such an intense colour! To balance the acidity of the red Vinho Verde you must combine it fat meat and rich sauces. We combined it with grilled Secreto of Iberico pork, which is a treat in its own right. Secreto is a thin, juicy cut from acorn fed, free range Iberico pigs.

As an extra: for two people buy 300 grams of Secreto. In a way the structure of the secreto resembles skate. One side of the secreto will look nice, fat and meaty, the other may look like if you have to remove extra fat. Which is exactly what you need to do! After having done that, heat a heavy grill pan (or the barbeque) and grill the meat for 4 times one minute, creating a nice pattern. The cuisson should be rosé. It’s not a problem if the thinner parts of the secreto are well done because the meat will be very juicy anyway, thanks to the fat. Serve with a sautéed courgette. The bitterness and the sweetness of the courgette combines really well with the juicy secreto. The red Vinho Verde will balance the fat and will turn the combination of secreto and courgette into an intriguing dish.

Here is what you need:

  • Pimientos de Padron
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt

Clean the Pimientos de Padron and dry the peppers. Heat a heavy skillet, add olive oil and fry the peppers for a few minutes. Make sure they are fried but not cooked. Put on a plate and sprinkle some sea salt over the Pimientos de Padron, to enhance the flavour.