Perfect for this end-of-summer dip in temperature, head to your fishmonger's and pretend it's Fish Friday. Try Broadway Market's Fin & Flounder in East London, which houses schools of quality seasonal fish.
Last month I was one lucky chef having had the opportunity to learn, cook and eat with three charming Catalans. Marion and Irene are co-owners of Local Market, a cooking school nestled among the cozy cobblestone streets of Girona, offering gastronomic experiences and lessons within a beautiful medieval period building. Their emphasis is on Catalan cooking, and they also cater privately in and around the city. Both Marion and Irene are home cooks and take pride in sharing their lasting traditions of Catalan cooking with others. Also joining us in the kitchen that day was Roma, a sommelier, who is exceptionally handsome and friendly, and adds his excellent working knowledge and personal touch to the school's wine experiences and pairing events.
The four of us had a fabulous time putting together an amazing hearty Catalan stew known as Suquet de Peix. I look forward to sharing my interpretation of this dish and more in my Spanish Traditions class.
Suquet de Peix, serves 4
For the picada (or paste, in this case, nut paste)
4 cloves garlic chopped
25g toasted hazelnuts without skin
25g toasted almonds without skin
1 handful of parsley, stalks removed
2 tbsp olive oil
For the tomato base:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
4 plum tomatoes, grated without peel, seeds removed by passing liquid through a sieve
500g potatoes peeled and cut into large chunks
For the fish stock:
1/2 onion, chopped coarsley
1 carrot, chopped coarsely
1 stick celery, chopped coarsely
fish bones from merluzzo or any white fish (if you can add fish heads, even better)
350g white fish, cut up into big pieces (separate)
200g mussels, but you can also include other shellfish such as prawns and clams
salt and pepper for seasoning
1 fresh baguette
Ice cold pale lager, such as Estrella or Peroni, for pairing
To make the fish stock, place all ingredients into a large pot with enough water to cover. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 30 minutes. Strain through a sieve, reserving the liquid in a separate container or pitcher.
For the picada, place all ingredients into a mortar and pestle and bash until a smooth paste is formed. Set aside.
For the tomato sauce, place garlic and oil into the pan and cook on medium for 30 seconds, then add the tomato liquid. Cook and reduce for about 20 minutes on a steady simmer.
Add about 500ml fish stock and bring the pot to a boil, then reduce heat and steady simmer for 30 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook for about 5-7 minutes. Add the fish and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the mussels or any other shellfish for the last 2-3 minutes of cooking time. Mussels and clam shells should open and prawns will turn pink. NOTE: Do not eat unopened mussels or clams after cooking.
Serve in large soup bowls with some fresh crusty bread. Estrella or any ice cold lager makes the best accompaniment to this dish.