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 – 17

Cod with Lentils, Cilantro and Parsley

Think France, think a nice small bistro in a small street, off centre, nothing posh, no Michelin star in sight. It’s 12.30, time for a quick lunch. You enter the restaurant, take a seat and order today’s dish, the plat du jour. It turns out to be a generous helping of brown lentils, two fried sausages and mustard. A beer works beautifully with it. After having enjoyed your lunch, you think about the joy of good food, French mustard and the beauty of lentils. Time for coffee. And maybe a glass of Calvados?
Let’s talk a bit about lentils. Not expensive at all, very healthy and a pack of essential vitamins and nutrients. Lentils are used in many kitchens and grown in many countries (India, Canada, Australia and also Europe, North Africa and the USA). Lentils have been around for a long time, possible 10.000 years. So you would expect lentils to be popular, but for some reason you don’t see them too much, unless in restaurants serving organic food or as soup. Which we think is a pity, because a simple dish of rice and lentils with a dash of chutney is healthy, cheap and tasty. And you can cook the rice and the lentils in one pan to make life even easier.

The red lentil (key element to Indian Dhal) is well-known. We use it in our pumpkin soup. It is a split lentil and it will cook very soft.
The Beluga lentil is black, as the name suggests. We could have used Beluga lentils in this recipe because of the combination with the white fish.
Most lentils are green or brown. The Du Puy green lentil is special, not only because of its Appellation d’origine contrôlée but very much because of their great taste and the fact that they keep a beautiful shape, even when cooked. Beware of fake Du Puy lentils! All Du Puy lentils are green and from France, but not all green lentils from France are Du Puy lentils. They have names like ‘Le Puy lentils’ or ‘Dupuis lentils’. All nasty marketing. If you want real Lentille Verte du Puy then look for the A.O.P and A.O.C. We prefer the ones from Sabarot.
The recipe for the plat du jour is relatively straight forward (make sure the meat in the sausage is not too finely minced) and we have enjoyed it many times.
Lentil soup combines really well with fresh cilantro, so we use the same combination in this case, although using fresh parsley is also a good idea. Key elements in this dish are excellent fresh cod, a mild fish stock and cilantro seeds.

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 recognise the aromas of banana and exotic fruit.

Here is what you need:

  • Shallot
  • Butter
  • Cilantro Seeds
  • Green, Du Puy or Beluga Lentils
  • Mild Fish Stock
  • Cod
  • Butter
  • Fresh Cilantro or Parsley
  • White Pepper

Cut the shallot in small bits and glaze gently in butter. In the mean time check the lentils for small pebbles; wash them. Once the shallot is glazed, add the lentils and heat them for a few minutes, as you would do with risotto rice. Gently crush the cilantro seeds a bit and add to the pan. Add the mild fish stock and leave to simmer on low heat. In parallel pan-fry the cod in butter in a non-stick pan. Just before the lentils are ready add half of the finely cut cilantro or parsley to the lentils and mix.
Timing is all. The lentils should be cooked, all fluid evaporated and absorbed and the cod just done. Meaning the cod is opaque and the flakes can be separated easily. And overcooked meaning you can see those small white bits and the fish becomes dry.
Serve the cod on top of the lentils and sprinkle some cilantro or parsley over the lentils and cod. Maybe add a touch of white pepper.