Tapas? Why? Are we now in Spain? Yes! I had barely had time to unpack from my vacations, that I had to pack again, this time direction..Spain, San Sebastian!
Blogging can have the most unexpected surprises for our life…and it just happened that last February, one unknown follower, a lady from Madrid, wrote to me…to my mail address. She told me she had been following my blog for some time, and that she felt a sort of “complete chemistry” with my recipes, my writing style but particularly to my being an Argentinian living in France (?!) Yes, for some personal circumstances in her life, these two countries meant a lot to her….Of course, I answered her very polite, and friendly e-mail…she re-wrote to me some time later…I replied….and then, almost without realising, our mails became more intimate, we started sharing our thoughts, our worries, crazy laughter….briefly, we became close friends, without having ever seen each other! We couldn’t “stand” this situation any longer, so my friend invited me to San Sebastian, the city of her summer retreat, Greta Garbo style!
……when we decided to make the “tapas bar tour” ! What a feast! Two or three tapas here…to change to another bar…seeing what was different there….changing again...ham..Pata Negra (Jabugo) of course, seafood, potato tortilla, wine.….yes, I must admit I ended up feeling a little tipsy….but what a night ;D
If you think my culinary curiosity ended up there, you are wrong! My friend took me along to her favorite restaurant, Casa Camara, in Pasajes de San Juan. Authenticity is the word that came to my mind on entering the place…the lady owners that serve clients with professionalism and extreme kindness…their mother, 89 years-old, that still surveys what happens in the kitchen….Basque cooking at its best! Choosing your own lobster, what a treat!
There I chose, salt cod “ajo arriero style”, even if it is not strictly Basque…(originally from Navarra) but it is something I just love!
We also took the opportunity to explore the coast, off San Sebastian…lovely little villages (the photos belong to the area of Bakio)
I wanted to make (invent?) a “tapa” that would put together what for me, were the most representative ingredients of Spanish tapas…this is what I created, keeping the spirit of simplicity, because tapas are simple…a few minutes to assemble something tasty, no frills! Well, my French influence led me to add, a Chantilly cream, a garlic one! and a red pepper cream….
I hope you like it!To make this tapa, you will need: *zucchinis *Jabugo ham *Spanish chorizo *shrimps *potatoes (thinly sliced) *garlic cloves, 4 *cream, 250gr *red bell peppers, 2 Slice the zucchinis (1/2cm wide). Slightly oil a grill pan, medium high heat, and grill one side of zucchinis, then lower to medium heat and cook till zucchinis are tender. Sauté the shrimps, peeled and vein removed, in olive oil. For the red bell pepper cream: Grill the peppers in the oven (220°C). Turn them regularly. When the skin has blackened, put them inside a plastic bag, and make a knot. Leave them there 15/30′. The vapour inside will make peeling them easy. Peel them. Remove white pulp and seeds. Rinse them under running water to remove any remaining seeds. Purée the pulp in a mixer. Here I just added a bit of olive oil, and I seasoned with salt and pepper (piment d’Espelette). For the Garlic Chantilly, cook 4 garlic cloves in the cream (in a little saucepan) till they are tender. Mix. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Sieve. Pour the mixture into a siphon. Refrigerate for 6 hours at least. For the salt cod “ajo arriero style”, you will need: *salt cod, 1 kilo *olive oil, 100ml *tomatoes (in small cubes), 2 cans (aprox, 800gr), green bell peppers, 2, sliced in small cubes * onions (sliced in small cubes), 100 gr *garlic cloves, 4 (peeled & thinly sliced) *”pimiento choricero paste” (if available), 1 teaspoon * chopped parsley (to taste) *sugar, 1 teaspoon, *paprika or Spanish pimenton, to taste To desalt the cod, soak it in water for 48hs,(keep in the fridge) changing water 4/5 times at least. Remove from water and using your hands, separate threads in thin slices. Dry cod with kitchen paper. In a big saucepan, sauté garlic in olive oil till mild gold color (do not burn garlic) Then add the onions, and the green peppers. Once cooked, add the tomatoes with the sugar. Do not add salt !!! since the cod will always be a bit salty. As soon as you start seeing some bubbles add the cod, cook till tender (10/15′ at most) Do not overcook fish since it will harden) Add the “pimiento choricero” if available, if not your favorite pepper paste ti make it a bit spicy. Turn off the heat. Add parsley.