Sunday, October 6, 2013


Cuttlefish dish created by Chef Enrique Sánchez at Andalucía Sabor.

I’m looking through the notes and photos I took at ANDALUCÍA SABOR,  food forum and trade fair in Sevilla dedicated to the foods of southern Spain. The theme of the conference this year was LA TAPA. TRADICIÓN E INNOVACIÓN EN LA COCINA ANDALUZA (The Tapa. Tradition and Innovation in Andalusian Cuisine). Right up my camino!

Fernando Huidobro, Dani García and Angel León.
What a line-up! Featured were some of Andalusia’s top chefs—Dani García (two Michelin stars for La Calima in Marbella), Angel León (one star, Aponiente in El Puerto de Santa María), José Carlos García (one star for eponymous restaurant in Málaga), Julio Fernandez (one star, Abantal, Sevilla), Diego del Río (one star, El Lago, Marbella), José Alvarez (one star, La Costa, El Ejido) and more.

Clemente Gómez, master ham slicer.
I watched two days of cooking demos showing off taste-boggling combinations, high-tech techniques (gels, airs, foams, smoke), witty juxtapositions, artsy plating and, generally, lots of ¡wow! factor.

Some of the most interesting presentations were riffs on ingredients. For example, Paco Roncero (two stars, La Terraza del Casino, Madrid) used a single varietal olive oil, Picual,  in three styles, early harvest (October), mid harvest (November) and late (December) in creating three different dishes, each showcasing the flavors of the oils. Oh, there were some far-out techniques involved too—freezing the oil, turning it into butter, then dipping it in malitol to make a caramel, turning it into popcorn. Or something like that.

Admittedly, the Andalucía Sabor conference was intended for professionals. Nevertheless, the show cooking I liked best were those that actually could be accomplished by a home cook. One of these was presented by Enrique Sánchez, a TV chef (Cómetelo, Canal Sur TV), who deconstructed a very traditional recipe from Cádiz, Chocos al Pan Frito, cuttlefish with fried bread.

Interpreting a traditional dish.
The traditional recipe is made with a red pepper sauce thickened with fried bread with onions, garlic and parsley. Enrique made a light red pepper sauce with parsley oil to decorate the dish. Instead of chopped onions, a delicate hint of chives finished the dish. Beads of black alioli, made from cuttlefish ink, lent drama to the plate. Instead of fried bread, shards of regañás, a crisp cracker, garnished the dish. I’m honestly not sure where the rice was incorporated or why some toasted pine nuts finished it off, but it looked scrumptious. And, didn’t require any special equipment or ingredients to produce.

But, in the booklet published for congreso attendees, appeared, not the deconstructed recipe, but the traditional one. So, here’s my take on the traditional recipe.

Traditional: Tender cuttlefish in a sauce thickened with fried bread.

Chocos al Pan Frito con Guarnición de Arroz
Cuttlefish with Fried Bread Sauce and Rice

(Recipe adapted from one contributed by Enrique Sánchez to publication of Andalucía Sabor, September, 2013.)

Cuttlefish, cleaned and ready to cook.
Cuttlefish (sepia, jibia, choco) is a cephalopod (like squid and octopus), with the “shell,” or cartilage on the inside.  The cuttlefish body is much rounder and thicker than the squid (calamar). Not as tender as squid, cuttlefish is usually braised or stewed in a sauce. Squid can be substituted in this recipe, but will need less cooking time.

Ñoras are plum-sized dried red peppers with a bitter-sweet flavor. If not available, use an additional 1 tablespoon pimentón (paprika) in this recipe.

Serves 4

3 ñoras (dried sweet red peppers)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 slices bread, crusts removed (about 2 ½ ounces)
½ cup manzanilla (dry Sherry)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon parsley
2 pounds cleaned cuttlefish, cut in 1 ½ -inch pieces, tentacles reserved for garnish
1 teaspoon pimentón (paprika, not smoked)
Water, about 2 cups
½ teaspoon salt
Chopped parsley
Rice with tentacles as an accompaniment

Remove stems and seeds from the ñoras and put them in a bowl. Cover with hot water and allow to soak for 45 minutes.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a pan or cazuela. Fry the bread until browned on both sides. Remove it to a dish. Pour the manzanilla over.

Add 1 tablespoon more oil to the pan. Sauté the onions and garlic on medium heat until softened, but not browned, 5 minutes.

In a blender or food processor, puree the soaked ñoras, fried bread, onions and garlic from the pan and parsley with ½ cup of the ñora soaking water.

Add 1 tablespoon more oil to the pan and sauté the pieces of cuttlefish. Sprinkle with the pimentón. Add the bread paste to the pan with enough water to cover the cuttlefish, about 2 cups.

Simmer, covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook until cuttlefish is very tender, about 15 minutes longer.

Serve the cuttlefish accompanied by the rice and sprinkled with chopped parsley.

Rice with cuttlefish tentacles, a side dish.
Arroz de Guarnición
Rice as a Garnish

2 tablespoons olive oil
Tentacles from the cuttlefish
2 cloves garlic, sliced crosswise
½ cup medium-short-grain rice
1 cup water or fish stock
½ teaspoon salt

Heat the oil in a small skillet. Sauté the tentacles of cuttlefish. Add the sliced garlic, then the rice. Add water or stock and salt. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cook, uncovered, until rice is tender, about 16 minutes. Allow to set 5 minutes before serving as an accompaniment to the cuttlefish.

Regañás--a shatteringly crisp flatbread, used instead of fried bread in the interpretation of the traditional cuttlefish dish.

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