A Basque Feast

Pimientos del Piquillo Rellenos de Bacalao

Almejas a la Marinera

Usually the posts on Kitchen Monkey are dishes that Kitchen Monkey made, but I had to make an exception here. These two lovely items were Liz's doing. She grew up in the Basque region of Spain, in San Sebastian, a town which Food and Wine magazine recently called the "culinary capital of Spain." Because of all this, and my association with Liz, I am occasionally on the fork end of some amazing dishes. Let me present Pimientos del Piquillo Rellenos de Bacalao, and Almejas a la Marinera...

Pimientos del such and such, which you see in the cast iron pan, is a delicious appetizer which is made by stuffing a type of sweet Spanish red pepper called "pimiento del piquillo" which looks a bit like a gnome hat. What are they stuffed with? Well I'll tell you. Liz purchased two filets of dried salt cod, which were soaked in water for three days, the water changed every eight hours, to get rid of the salt and soften up the fish. Once the cod was ready, it was de-skinned and shredded, sauteed with olive oil and garlic, with flour and milk added later. Carefully stuff the pimientos del piquillo (which you can get at imported food stores or Whole Foods for a great deal of money) with the cod mixture. They were then packed in a small cast iron pan and placed in the oven (the Spaniards bake and serve them in a clay pot, because they haven't yet discovered metal) just until they're hot. Serve!

Almejas a la Marinera = clams in a sauce of white wine, scallions, garlic, and fresh parsley. This too is often made in a clay pot. So versatile, these clay pots. These clams were fairly good, but I have to say I'm a bigger fan of mussels (especially with white wine, garlic, shallots, and fresh thyme).

We also ate Manchego, a hard sheep's milk cheese that has been made the exact same way since Don Quixote was in diapers. We also had fancy Spanish pickled garlic, which is very different than the kind you find in the States. I could describe it, but I'd have to kill you. With my garlic breath.


Anonymous said...

just so you know we use clay pots because of the taste, things taste way better cooked in a clay pot than metal pots, evolution is not always an improvement, i.e. Global warming.

Kitchen Monkey said...

For the record, my comment about not having discovered metal was (if I recall, this post was years and years ago) a teasing inside joke at my Spanish friend. In the event that this wasn't clear, I acknowledge that Spain has been aware of (and using) metal for quite some time now.

And I agree, clay receptacles are great to cook in. I'm a big fan of tagines.

I get the feeling this is the same "Spaniard" who didn't like my paella post (see 2010).