Where better to look for fish recipes than northern Spain - the Catalan region.
Inspired by Rick Stein from his Spanish travels shown on the BBC's 'Saturday Kitchen', I set about a meat and fish stew, thickened with a picada.
Read on ...
Chef Stein made a meatball and cuttlefish stew with peas, thickened with a picada. More on that in a minute.
I get home after food shopping where I scooped up a whole heap of nearly gone fish, fresh fish and fish which will last, some of which went in the freezer, some in the fridge and some out for tonight.
Chef Stein's recipe (from memory) was cuttlefish, prawns and meatballs.
I had defrosted a dog end of a carton of minced meat, so had maybe half a pound to play with. The supermarket had some squids about to turn, so I bagged them, and, they had some tilapia about to turn. All half price and all going into my pot this evening.
Let's begin ...
First, prep. I skinned and cleaned the squid bodies, chopped the heads from the tentacles, thought about reserving the ink sacs for something but binned the little fellows' head in the end.
Chop some leek - leek is great with fish. Grind some garlic down with a little sea salt.
Meat - pummel the minced beef with some marjoram (or your favourite aromatic herb), some celery salt and some black pepper. Squeeze it through your fists a few times and them make up a stack of little meatballs just a couple of centimetres in diameter.
Using a heavy bottomed pan, skillet, or whatever it is you use, brown the meatballs off in a little fat. I used coconut oil.
When browned, toss in sliced squid reserving the tentacles 'til the end.
Sauté a few times (that's toss in the pan, for non-gastronomes) and add a shredded leek just to soften, then a carton of chopped tomatoes.
Add some tarragon to perfume - tarragon is fantastic with fish.
In goes a few cloves of creamed garlic and chopped chilli - Scotch Bonnet pepper for me.
Add a handful of frozen peas and a small handful of frozen prawns.
Pour in some water and let it simmer for a short while ...
Test for flavour and add in some stock - fish, chicken or just a bouillon will do. I had some fish stock in the freezer, so dropped that in and reduced, adjusting seasoning at the end - more sea salt.
Retrieve the tarragon.
I had some tilapia, which I just dropped into the now reducing stew to cook through for a couple of minutes.
We're about done!
Two things: the picada and the tentacles.
Put a few tablespoons into the stew and allow it to just thicken.
Those tentacles ... cut them off the head, taking care not to puncture the ink sac, pull off the long ones with the sticky bits at the end. Fry them off in a little olive oil and when ready to serve out, spoon out the stew with the tilapia on top and the fried squids to crown.
Whoa! Hot! Hot! Hot! Mellowed with the bread thickener. Damn good!