Oh the tales of the sea that we could tell, had we been out to the ocean. Instead we brought the waves to the shores of Recoleta and served up a series of pescetarian meals – wasn’t the original plan, but half a dozen requests that shoe-horned into the week made it the sensible approach. It made it difficult for one guest who reserved at more or less last minute, informing me that she didn’t eat anything seafood – not an allergy, just a preference – I told her that wasn’t really an option this week, it was just too integral to the meal – she came anyway and sort of nibbled around it all.
Still feeling a little French-i-fied, I decided to play around with a long time favorite, the pissaladiere. In some ways the French version of a pizza – dough topped with caramelized onions, olives and anchovies, I wanted to lighten it up a little. Started off by dropping the doughy crust and using a polenta and grana padano cheese one. And instead of intensely salty cured anchovies, I went with boquerones – fresh anchovies cured in vinegar, olive oil and garlic. Accompanied by a roasted pepper puree and a mixed herb salsa verde (parsley, oregano, basil, garlic, capers, green olives, peperoncino, a little more of the cheese from the crust, and olive oil).
A little Peruvian inflected bouillabaisse…. To create the broth I put chopped onion, leek, garlic, fennel, and rocoto chili into a pot with some olive oil and cooked them until soft. Then added tomato, a couple of bay leaves and a pinch of saffron, topped it off with fish stock and simmered it all away for about 30 minutes. Removed the bay leaves, pureed and strained the whole thing, adjusted the seasoning with salt and white pepper. Meanwhile, cooked peeled and diced potato in salted water until just soft, drained them and added them into the broth. Into individual bowls and then topped with a separately sauteed mix of fish (surubí (Brazilian tigerfish), gatuzo (smoothound shark), and a bit of the cod from the main course coming up, plus prawns and mussels). To garnish, little baguette toasts topped with huancaina sauce in place of rouille and fennel fronds.
A risotto cooked in vegetable stock, finished with spinach (quickly sauteed in olive oil), chopped, toasted nori seaweed, mascarpone and parmigiano. Dusted over the top with lemon zest and togaroshi, the Japanese mixed chili and spice blend.
A return of the cod viennoise but as I did the last time around, substituting in our salsa nieve andina for the sabayon. Further refining on the sauce, using some classic French cooking technique – made a fish veloute – a light roux with less flour than normal because I don’t want this to over-thicken, so about 4 tablespoons of butter to 2 of flour, added to that about 3/4 cup (200ml) of light cream and 1½ cups of fish stock (400ml), 4 salt cured anchovies and a good pinch of white pepper. Brought it to a simmer and cooked, whisking constantly, until just thickened. Pureed with a good handful of cilantro, stems and all until completely smooth. Adjusted the seasoning (don’t add salt prior as the anchovies add a pretty good hit of it). Fresh green beans cooked in vegetable stock.
And, finished off with our bakhlava tart (walnuts, cashews, pistachios, hazelnuts, poppyseeds, white and black sesame seeds cooked in our “honey pie” filling flavored with a little baharat, vanilla and rosewater). Cardamom and black pepper gelato. Basil syrup.