Monday, January 12, 2009

Spain - Catalan Salmon and Almond Garlic Soup

This week kicks off Spanish week on the blog. I haven't ever cooked Spanish food before, but I just got a Spanish cookbook at the holiday book sale, so I figured I'd give it a go. There were a ton of recipes using chorizo (sausage) and some with red meat, but as I did lamb last week for France, I wanted to change it up a bit. I ended up making salmon, and the recipe was wonderfully easy to make.

One thing I failed to take into account was that the recipe called for 8 fillets of fish, and I was only cooking two. So I ended up with a huge bowl of sauce left over. No matter! I took some chicken out of the freezer, dumped a few spoonfuls of sauce into the bag and put it in the fridge to defrost. Dinner tonight, mmm! For the rest of the sauce left over, I took an ice cube tray and filled eight of the cube-holes (is there a name for those cube-holes? There should be...but then, maybe there's is, this is the "Lethological" gourmet, so not remembering words is par for the course). I then stuck the tray in the freezer. And it did, in fact, freeze solid. So now I can take out one cube at a time and have some yummy marinade!

I'm putting the salad recipe below too. It's not Spanish, but it was yummy, so I decided to include it. And for once, I actually tossed the salad with the dressing. Normally I make salads at work, and I don't have a big bowl the mix it in, so I just plate it and put the dressing on the top. But it's soooo much better tossed! And the fig vinager I found at Whole Foods, while damn expensive, really ended up being wonderfully tasty (if you're curious, it's from l'Olivier, and it's fig pulp and vinager mixed together).

The Almond Garlic Soup I didn't like at all. I'm not sure if it's the recipe or if it's an acquired taste, but to me it tasted like salad dressing (too much vinager). I'm including the recipe anyway, just in case it's my taste buds, and to give you an idea of what it is. I must say, I was really surprised that there was bread in the soup, and that it wasn't cooked at all.

Catalan Salmon (Catalonia is the Barcelona region of northern Spain)
8 salmon fillets (or you can make 2 and have extra sauce)
3 avocados (1 avocado works for two fillets)
1 1/3 cups of olive oil (plus 2T)
1/3 cup sherry vinager
1/3 cup orange juice
1/4 cup orange zest (I didn't have exactly that, I used the zest of two oranges)
3T capers, drained and chopped finely
salt and pepper, to taste

Rinse the salmon and place it skin-side down on a baking dish (or grill). Brush with 2T of olive oil and bake (I don't know the exact timing, but I put it on about 350 for, I don't know, 15-20 minutes). To know when it's done, take a fork and pull at the flesh a bit to make sure it's light salmon (cooked) instead of deep orange (raw).

While the salmon is cooking, whisk together the oil, vinager, orange juice, zest, capers, and salt and pepper. Also, cook up your favorite grain (I used quinoa). Slice the avocado (I finally got to use my nifty avocado slicer (left), which didn't work as well as expected, but I was still excited to try it). Plate the quinoa and avocado side by side and top with the salmon. Spoon enough sauce over top to lightly cover the salmon and avocado. Enjoy!

Salad with Fig Vinegar Dressing (I'm not going to give quantities on the veggies, depending on how much you need just make enough dressing to cover it all)

baby spinach
red bell pepper, cut into small pieces
apples, with skin and cut into small pieces
grapes, halved

1-1.5 parts olive oil
1 part vinegar (either balsamic, white balsamic, or fig)
dollop of dijon mustard
salt and pepper

Garlic and Almond Soup (this is apparently a speciality in Spain, though I'm not sure if I'm making it correctly here. If any of you have made it and can see where I went wrong, please let me know!)

3c blanched almonds
4c fresh country bread, cut into 1" chunks
3T coarsely chopped garlic
2/3c sherry vinegar
2/3c olive oil
3T salt
6-7c water
sliced almonds and halved grapes for garnish

Put the blanched almonds and garlic in a food processor and process until grainy. Add the bread, vinegar, oil, salt, and 4 cups of water and process until paste. Pour into a bowl and add the remaining water. Chill for four hours. Stir thoroughly before serving and add sliced almonds and graped to the bowls after plating (I forgot the grapes).


Charlotte said...

I lived in Spain for quite awhile, as did my husband and yet neither one of us has ever heard of Almond Garlic soup before - strange!! Anyhow, "sopa con pan" or soup with bread chunks thrown in it is quite common. Although I don't much miss slimy bread in my soup. The Salmon sounds really yummy tho! I'll have to try it on my husband and see if it reminds him of home.

nicholas said...

The soup you're referring to is called Ajo Blanco. I made two versions the other day and found the first(same recipe as yours) grainy and too garlicy. I then tried making and almond picada as the base (bread fried in olive oil with almonds and garlic added) then less sherry vin and it came out delicious not sure if this can still be called Ajo Blanco but it was much nicer on the palate

The Lethological Gourmet said...

Thanks for the tips, Nicholas! If I ever make it again, I'll try making the changes you suggested!