Sunday, June 01, 2014

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival 2014 Inspires

Cooking is as much about food and technique as it is about experiences. Atlanta's Food & Wine Festival 2014 in Midtown provided memorable lessons that I had to apply quickly or risk forgetting.

Sous vide, pickled seaweed, escabeche, thin fillets of fish cured in a sugar/salt mixture . . . the topics intrigued and inspired immediate imitation.

Corvina Escabeche with Spring Vegetables

Let's start with the escabeche, (es-kah-BECH-ay), a classic Spanish preparation often paired with oily fish such as mackerel, corvina, or bonito. Its Mediterranean at its essence. Add olive oil to a saucepan at medium heat and the following:
  • 3 - 4 tomatoes, cored and sliced 1/5 inch thick 
  • 1large onions, thinly sliced into half moons
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • bay leaf (remove when finished) 
  • 2 Ts of combined basil, oregano, 
  • 1 t. of cumin, coriander each 
  • salt, pepper
  • carrots or turnips (optional, cubed into bite sizes)
  • 2 Ts of Espelette Basque Vinegar (or something unique from Whole Foods)
and cook very slowly (3 - 4 hours), covered, over lower heat (I use a 2 out of 10 setting on my induction range so that it cooks caramelized from the inside out vs. fried and charred from the outside in).  At the very end a splash of your best Spanish vinegar tops it off. This makes enough for 6 people.

Prep for fish:
  • Portion the fish into 4 - 5oz pieces, 3/4 inch thick (no more) - ask fishmonger for 30oz if serving 6.
  • Mix a 1/4 cup of equal parts salt and sugar. Use a tablespoon to spread the mix on a flat dish upon which you'll place the fish. This is now considered face down. If there is a skin on the fish, it is now facing you. Leave face down for 15 minutes.
  • Either sous vide the fish at 53 degrees C for 20 minutes or you can prep a pan with medium-hot olive oil and sear with the skin side down for 3 minutes before completely removing from heat.
  • If your fish has no skin, make your own! I use sheets of dried seaweed you can get at Trader Joe's and place 1 or 2 on what I designate the skin side. Continue as in the previous step. Delicious.
The whole thing, escabeche and fish, are served cold or at room temperature on a hot day.

It'd be a shame to not eat this al fresco.

This dish and the recipe is what I derived from notes taken during the Food & Wine demonstration and conversation with Asheville NC's Katie Button who is the talented Executive Chef of C├║rate, the authentic Spanish tapas restaurant continually earning rave reviews since its open in March 2011. Many thanks Katie!

Here is an image of the gazpacho I made to introduce the fish:

Tomato & Cantaloupe Gazpacho with Swiss Chard Dolma, Carrot Halva Over Avocado Aioli

So long as they don't start patenting food recipes, imitation is the highest form of flattery. How else are you going to learn? Let me hear how you fare and what you choose to pair with the fish!

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