“Newspapers will run a headline: ‘Shark kills human.’ You never see a headline from the other perspective: ‘Man swims in shark-infested water, forgets he’s shark food.”
– Gary Larson, Cartoonist – The Far Side
Buenos Aires – On the part of the shark, I imagine that there’s not a whole lot of cognitive function that goes into ending up on my dinner table. For my part, I simply went to my local pescadería, where they had an oferta on palo rosado. I vaguely remembered in the back of my mind that that was the name for a different sort of fish here, but heck, it was on sale, so I bought a nice large one. On arrival at home, a quick check of my Spanish food dictionary reminded me that it’s the other name for gatuzo, the smooth-hound shark, and one of my favorite fish here to cook. I decided to look and see if there were any traditional palo rosado (pink stick) recipes floating around the internet, and one popped up on multiple websites – palo rosado a la vasca, or Basque style shark.
A quick glance at the ingredients and I knew I had everything in house. Of course, that meant that as I put it all together I turned out to be wrong. No tomato puree in house. I’ve had fish cooked in this manner before, right along with the tomato, and I think I actually like it better without the puree. I do know that three of us ate the entire shark in one sitting – and it was close to two pounds of meat! This dish could probably be made with any firm-fleshed white fish and work out quite well. I didn’t follow the traditional recipes I found other than in the selection of ingredients, so here’s my version:
Palo Rosado a la Vasca
(more or less)
1½-2 pounds palo rosado filets or other firm-fleshed white fish
1 large red bell pepper, julienned
1 large onion, finely julienned
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced in ½” cubes
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup of white wine
¼ cup dried parsley
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
salt and white pepper
Boil the potato dice until just soft, drain. Meanwhile, cut the various vegetables, and make sure you removed the bones from the fish filets. A tip on that, by the way, I keep a small pair of needle-nose pliers in my kitchen equipment – they never get used for anything but cooking, and mostly for removing fish bones. They work brilliantly for that, you can grasp the end of the bones and just pull them right out of the fish filet. Saute the onions, garlic, and pepper strips in half the olive oil until limp. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I suppose this would be the moment I’d toss in a couple of spoonfuls of tomato puree if I was going to use it.
Coat the bottom of a baking pan or cast-iron skillet with the remaining oil. Sprinkle half the paprika and parsley over the filets, along with a bit of salt and pepper. Cover with the cooked potatoes (you could also go with thinly sliced rather than diced if you prefer). Cover with the onion and pepper mixture. Sprinkle the remaining paprika and parsley over the top. Place in a hot oven and cook for 15 minutes until the fish is cooked through and the top of the “casserole” is just lightly browned. Serve and enjoy!