Kitchen Cabinet: Blanca Valencia’s ‘Spirish’ variation on a classic dish is her go-to recipe for feeding a large group
Romesco fish pie
This fish pie, a variation on the fish with romesco alioli and a side of potatoes, is my go-to recipe for feeding a large group. To make it simpler, I have made three changes. I have mashed the potatoes, substituted fried almonds in the sauce with toasted ones, and presented it in a pie dish, rather than individual plates.
This is classic a “Spirish” (Spanish-Irish) crossover that my young half-Irish daughters love. They also see no problem with churros with Barry’s tea and not thick chocolate, Spanish omelette with Irish sausages, or, gasp, “paella” with chorizo.
Romesco, a Catalan sauce, is one of Spain’s most popular. A mix of nuts, tomatoes, bread and olive oil, it can be a little time-consuming to make, but totally worth it. You can find bottled romesco at supermarkets in Spain and some times online in Ireland. It deserves to be up there with pesto in the bastion of celebrated sauces.
Feel free to use more Irish-style mashed potatoes on top of the fish in the recipe and to omit the garlic mayonnaise. Prepare the romesco sauce the day before since the flavours get enhanced and it makes preparation the next day a breeze. Serve with a green salad with bitter leaves and sherry vinegar vinaigrette.
Blanca Valencia is a cooking instructor, a Spanish food specialist and co-host of Spice Bags podcast.
Romesco fish pie
For the romesco:
2 ñora dried peppers or ½ ancho chili (ñora is a dried bell pepper from Spain, ancho chilli is a Mexican dried chili that is smoky and little hot. Replace with 1 tsp of paprika if you have no dried peppers)
6 ripe tomatoes
1 onion, unpeeled
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 roasted red pepper, skinned (from a jar is fine)
2 sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
1 tsp sweet paprika
30g toasted almonds
30g toasted hazelnuts
2 slices of baguette
2 tbsp sherry or white wine vinegar
60ml extra virgin olive oil
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For the garlic mayo:
230g of mayo
1 crushed garlic clove
For the potatoes and the fish:
1 kg potatoes
60ml extra virgin olive oil
1 kg of cod fillets, cut into pieces
1 Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2 Put the tomatoes, onion, and half the garlic head on a lined baking sheet and brush the vegetables with olive oil and season with a little bit of salt. Bake for about 20 minutes until vegetables are soft. When cool enough to handle, peel tomatoes, onion and garlic.
3 Soak the ñora or ancho in very hot water for about 15 minutes.
4 Mix the crushed garlic with mayonnaise for the garlic mayonnaise and set aside.
5 Place the all the ingredients for the romesco in a food processor and chop it until you get a coarse puree. Use a little water if you need to thin it down.
6 Boil whole potatoes in salted water until tender and reserve a cup of the cooking liquid.
7 Peel and mash the potatoes coarsely with the cooking water and then add olive oil. Season and set aside.
8 Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
9 Cover the bottom of a baking dish with a thin layer of romesco. Add the cod and season with a little salt. Cover with more romesco and finish with the potato mash. Bake in an oven for 15-20 minutes approximately. Take it out and spread the garlic mayonnaise on top and put back in the oven, change the setting to grill and cook until you get a light brown colour on top, approximately three minutes. Serve immediately.
Kitchen Cabinet is a series of recipes from chefs who are members of Euro-Toques Ireland, who have come together during the coronavirus outbreak to share some of the easy, tasty things that they like to cook and eat at home #ChefsAtHome
- I am off to Oban on holiday for ten days to relax and celebrate a big birthday. Oban is a great town for fresh fish. The fish suppers are to die for, and the fish restaurants superb. The recipe above is making my mouth water already as I head off to pack my holiday shorts (some hope!) and T-shirts. My elder son is so confident about the weather that he has just bought a scuba diving suit to keep him warm while swimming in the sea at Ganavan Sands. Best fish in the Dumbarton area at the moment is from Morrisons supermarket or – even better – from the fish van, which comes from Pittenweem in Fife at around 10am- 11am on a Friday morning. Listen out for the driver hooting the horn in the Barloan/Gibson Street area. You won’t regret it. BH