Whether I’m cooking at home or in the restaurant, my motto is basically to keep it fresh, keep it seasonal and make it easy. Buying good ingredients is the important aspect and a visiting a bustling market is fun and always a feast for the eyes, I love wandering around L’olivar in Palma, it is where local residents and chefs come to buy their food. I enjoy the smells and admire how beautifully the vendors display their produce from the hanging hams and cured sausages to the intricately stacked fruit and vegetables. The truth is, buying fresh food from your local market not only allows you to support local agriculture here on the Island, but I’m also convinced that locally grown foods simply taste better.
I always head straight for the fish stalls whenever I enter a local market. It’s undoubtedly the easiest place to spot the signs of freshness and quality, as it’s almost impossible to disguise super- fresh seafood. The vivid colours, the bright reds of the huge Mediterranean prawns and scorpion fish, the glistening silver of the sea bass and grouper fish and the sheer variety of wired and wonderful sea creatures in the tiny stalls dotted around the market never ceases to amaze me.
So what are the signs to look for when shopping for fish? First of all, fresh fish should never smell strongly but have a faint aroma of the sea. It should look appetising with clear, bright eyes and a shiny vivid skin. The flesh should always be firm and adhere firmly to the bone. The gills should be a bright red or startling pink colour and the fins and tails should be clearly defined and undamaged.
The “Mercat de L’Olivar” was founded in 1951 and was completely renovated last in 1997. It is open every morning from Monday to Saturday, although for really fresh fish...try to avoid Monday.
Grilled Turbot with broccoli puree & saffron-tarragon mayonaisse
Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes
- 3tbsp olive oil
- 4 turbot fillets, 160g each approximately 1-inch thick Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
- 200g broccoli spears
- 85g frozen peas
- 1 small leek, choppe
- A handful of fresh mint leaves
Bring a saucepan to the boil and add the chopped leeks. Cook for 5 minutes and then add the broccoli. Cook for another 5 minutes and then add the frozen peas. Cook for another 2 minutes and drain the vegetables.
Place the vegetables in a food processor, add the mint leaves and blend to a puree. Season with salt & pepper.
- A good pinch of saffron
- 4 free range egg yolks
- 1tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1tsp English mustard
- 400ml vegetable oil
- 150ml olive oil
- 1tsp lemon juice
- 1tbsp freshly chopped tarragon
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Soak the saffron in 1 tablespoon of boiling water for 30 seconds. Place the egg yolks into the bowl of a food processor. Add the vinegar, saffron, salt and pepper and the mustard. Pulse once or twice to blend. Turn the processor on and, with the motor running, slowly add the oils in a thin, steady stream. After a minute or so, the mixture will change consistency as you blend and will emulsify into a thick, rich sauce. If the mayonnaise is too thick, you can thin down with a teaspoon or so of water. Taste, adjust the flavoring by adding more vinegar or mustard, if desired, add the chopped tarragon and season with a little more sea salt and white pepper. The mayonnaise can be served at once or kept in the fridge for up to 2/3 days.
Heat a little olive oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan; season the fish fillets with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot, add the fillets and cook for 1-2 minutes until the fish is crisp and golden. Turn over and cook for a further minute. Serve with saffron-tarragon mayonnaise & broccoli puree. Garnish with lemon wedges.
Grilled sea bream with cauliflower-anchovy purée & sauce antiboise
- 1 whole sea bream, weighing around 700g-800g (de-scaled and gutted)
- 100ml olive oil
Cauliflower & anchovy purée
- 1 small cauliflower 100ml milk
- 2tbsp olive oil
- 2 salted anchovy fillets
- 4tbsp olive oil
- 4 basil leaves (torn)
- 10 fresh coriander leaves
- 2 shallots (finely chopped)
- 4 tomatoes (peeled and diced)
- 1⁄2 garlic clove (crushed)
- Juice of one lemon
For the antiboise sauce, mix all the ingredients together and leave at room temperature for 15 minutes.
For the cauliflower & Anchovy purée, trim the cauliflower into small florets. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan and add the cauliflower florets, cook gently until they start to soften and add the milk. Cook over a gentle heat until the cauliflower is just cooked. Add the anchovy fillets and blend in a food processor to a smooth purée. Add a little white pepper. Brush the sea bream on a baking tray and brush all over with olive oil. Season well, inside and out. Place under a medium grill and cook for 6 minutes, then turn and grill until the skin is golden and crisp.
To serve, carefully place the sea bream on a warm serving dish. Spoon over the sauce antuboise and serve with cauliflower-anchovy puree.
Hake in a lemon coriander crust with roasted red pepper aioli
- 4 x 175g/6oz fillets hake, skinned olive oil, for greasing
Green salad, to serve
- 80g fresh breadcrumbs
- 40g Gruyère cheese, grated
- 30g fresh coriander
- 60g unsalted butter
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Red Pepper Aioli
- 1 red pepper
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tsp English mustard
- 400ml olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 and lightly oil 2 baking sheets. Place all the ingredients for the crust in a food processor and blend to a purée. Set aside.
To make the aioli, place the red pepper on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until the skin starts to blacken and blister.( about 10-15 minutes). Transfer to a bowl and cover with clingfilm (plastic wrap). When cool enough to handle, peel the skin off the pepper, cut in half and remove the seeds.
Add the roasted red pepper, egg yolks, vinegar, garlic, mustard and some salt and pepper to a food processor. Pulse once or twice to blend. With the motor still running, very slowly add the oil in a thin, steady stream through the feed tube. After 1–2 minutes, the mixture will emulsify into a thick, rich sauce.
Cover each hake fillet with a good spoonful of the crust mixture and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.
Serve immediately with the red pepper aioli and a green salad.
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