Tag Archives: seafood

Sardines & Anchovies

Some time since my last post as I found myself put straight to work last week and catching up with all the people I had left here in England. Serious respect for anyone blogging that manages to work all day then come back ready to cook and put together a post. The problem here is that by the time I’m home and cleaned up from a day at the building site, there is barely any light (just rain – anyone in the UK at the moment will feel my pain) and I don’t have the equipment to shoot at night, so I will try and set aside dedicated cooking and shooting days but until I start university again I feel my post count will decrease.

To bring some Spanish sunshine back into my life, I opened up the box of treats I brought back from ‘Rafa the anchovy man’ of whom I spoke in my last post. Just the sight of them made me happy and the smells reminded me of starting my day at his market stall with a glass of young wine and one of his creations. I quickly got used to strong flavours first thing. The quality of this cured fish means that preparation should be limited, i.e served very simply. For me the best way is on bread with some good tomatoes to cut through their richness. He had also packed some of his own sun-dried tomatoes which he assured me would be better than any other I had tasted, and I had no reason to doubt him.

We, in England have some amazing produce unfortunately little of it seems to filter down to the masses, instead being sold in expensive markets or snapped up by the catering industry. But one thing we do have is an endless demand for Italian products and thus a copious amount of deli’s, cafe’s and bakeries in the capital. I am fortunate to live around the corner from what must be one of the best. The Bottega del Pane supplies the infamous River Cafe and other restaurants with their baked goods and I challenge anyone to leave empty handed after seeing what’s on offer. So I bought some of their famous sourdough and some amazing tomatoes (English grown!) to make some ‘Tostas’, the Spanish crostini.

I served the anchovy and tomato on slightly thicker cuts of bread because I wanted some of the juices to be soaked up without making it soggy throughout. I am positive this quality fish cannot be bought in a supermarket, so you’ll have to splash out somewhere but remember a little go a long way.  The sardines should be on thinner slices as the flavours are more delicate and topping drier. The dried tomatoes were wonderful and very different to ones I had tried and slated before, and with the basil made for the perfect trio. These probably aren’t for standing up and eating at parties as these things have become fashionable for but would go perfectly at the start of a meal. Or if you are lucky enough to live somewhere with more that 8 days of sun a year then bask in its glory with some cold wine and make everyone in the UK jealous.

Anchovy and Tomato Tostas

sliced sourdough bread or similar

extra virgin olive oil

tomatoes, chopped finely

good quality fresh anchovy fillets in oil

Place the chopped tomatoes in a bowl with a tiny pinch of salt and pepper and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. For 4 tostas I used 2 tomatoes.

Preheat the grill/broiler to a high heat and toast the sliced bread until golden around the edges. Drizzle with a little oil.

Spoon the tomatoes onto the bread using a slotted spoon. Lift an anchovy fillet from the oil, let just a little of the oil drip off then lay on the tomatoes.

Sardine & Sun-Dried Tomato Tostas

sliced sourdough bread or similar

 sardine fillets in oil

sun-dried tomatoes

basil

Prepare the bread as above. Cut the sardines up into 1cm slices; the tomatoes into slightly smaller pieces and roughly chop the basil.

Mix well in a bowl with one tablespoon of oil from the sardines and one from the tomatoes. Spoon onto bread. Serve.

 

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Razor Clams with Chorizo and Samphire

Adapted from the Scott’s of London dish

I served this dish as a starter as part of a 6-course dinner, it wasn’t originally planned but the sea urchins for my planned starter weren’t available at the market (typical having just read an article on having a plan B for dinner parties and thinking I would never need one because I lived next to Europe’s largest food market).

Comparing this effort to my last one showed how much more refined I had become in my cooking style. Using these ingredients it is easy to overuse one aspect and unbalance the flavours of the dish so less really is more:

  • A fresh and delicately flavoured shellfish
  • An oily and intensely flavoured chorizo
  • A salty and easily spoilt green

This dish really does exhibit how the best quality ingredients can make a dish. The chorizo required won’t be found next to the sausages in your local supermarket, it needs to be a semi-dry one. I chose a chorizo from ‘Jamon Iberico de Bellota’  (the pig used to make the world’s best ham – it really is the best money can buy and goes a long way, 3 sausages between 7 people). So make the effort to go to the nearest deli in search of them or try ordering from Brindisa in London. The fat rendered creates such a rich and simple sauce so have some bread handy to mop it up.

Also this is great for dinner parties as the clams can be prepared hours in advance and re-heated in the oven when ready to serve.

Razor Clams with Chorizo and Samphire
serves 4

1kg of razor clams
half a glass of white wine
small handful of parsley
3 garlic cloves
salt

3 semi-dry chorizos cut into 1/4″ thick coins
30g Butter

handful of samphire/ sea asparagus

Oven at 180C

  • Rinse the clams under cold water for 10 minutes until clean.
  • Heat the wine, garlic, parsley and salt in a saucepan wide enough to lay the clams.
  • When boiling add clams, shake pan and cover for 2 minutes or until shells open
  • Remove Clams, run under cold water to cool and clean. To clean, remove the darker looking sac from the mussel and discard, reserving the flesh and shell
  • Lay the shells on a roasting tray, one or two per person and replace the flesh (I put two clams in one shell)
  • Drizzle each clam with a teaspoon of stock water left in the pan and place on middle shelf in oven for 10 minutes
  • Meanwhile, add chorizo coins to a frying pan on medium-low heat (NO OIL) render the fat, stirring occasionally and lowering the flame if starting to burn
  • When fat rendered and chorizo cooked (around 8 minutes) remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towel. To the oil left in the pan add the butter and stir with a small whisk over a medium heat until well combined and thickened
  • To serve: Remove the clams from the oven and plate accordingly, scatter over chorizo, dip samphire into sauce and place then drizzle over sauce as desired.
  • Enjoy!