Fish Escabeche by Jordan Theodoras
So it turns out that there's a lot more to Spanish food than Tapas and Paella, and by more, I mean a zillion (seemingly random) ingredients cooked in a pan till it's virtually overflowing to make a marinade for fish. I know right? But bear with me, because it actually works and it tastes delicious.
I found myself cooking this dish on a stage in front of a few people, as part of a Quick Cure Share Session at South Australia's Tasting Australia Food Festival. Under the direction of Jordan Theodoras, chef of Peel Sreet Restaurant, I learned that Escabeche is a traditional version of preserved fish, often served cold in Spain. Apparently the most traditional/common way of eating it is to wander in to a Tapas bar, where you'll find it sitting in a jar, and order it to sandwich between slices of bread. The whole thing sounded quite repulsive to me (like a cold fish casserole or something) but, as the ingredients simmered together in the pan, and the fragrance of a combination of flavours wafted before my nose, things started to change, and I found myself both intrigued and tantalised.
Onions, garlic and olive oil, plus carrots and tomato, herbs and peppers, were all thrown in with sultanas, vinegar and stock to make a simmering sauce that, when drizzled over the seared fish and scattered with parsley and almonds, looked amazing.
Of course, due to the nature of the cooking lesson experience, it wasn't practical to have it sit (and therefore soak into the fish as the flavours married) for the required amount of days as per the traditional version. Nonetheless, I definitely enjoyed it warm, sandwiched between two slices of fresh crusty bread smeared with a mayonnaise mixed with paprika.
Fish Escabeche for 6
You will need:
12 FRESH fillets of Scaled Red Mullets (preferable) or Tommy Ruffs or Leather jackets 100 g plain flour 250 ml Olive oil 1 large red onion, sliced 2 cloves of garlic (not pre peeled Chinese garlic), sliced 1 long red chilli, sliced 1 celery heart, chopped 1 carrot, chopped 3 really ripe good quality tomatoes, peeled and chopped 1 lemon, zested and juiced 1 orange, zested and juiced 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed ¼ teaspoon saffron threads 1 star anise ¼ bunch lemon thyme, chopped ¼ bunch marjoram, chopped 2 bay leaves 100g organic raisins 1x250 ml bottle good quality red wine vinegar 250 ml home made chicken stock 50 ml dry white wine Sea salt Whole black pepper ½ bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped 1 sourdough baguette 50g blanched almonds, roasted and chopped 120g kupi doll mayonnaise 2 cloves garlic 1 tablespoon smoked paprik
Season the fish with salt and pepper and lightly dust with flour.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy based fry pan and sear the fish on both sides.
Place in a large dish.
In a large pan, heat olive oil and sauté the onion, garlic and chilli until beginning to soften.
Add celery heart and carrot and continue to cook.
Add the spices, zests, bay leaves, thyme and marjoram.
Add the raisins, tomatoes, juice, vinegar, stock and wine and season with salt and pepper.
Pour warm mix over the fish and allow to cool before serving.
Serve at room temperature with chopped parsley, almonds, paprika mayonnaise and good quality sourdough.
Recipe and Class presented by Jordan Thoedoras – Owner of Peel St Restaurant