This week at the restaurant we have a really delicious, simple dish of “Llampuga” on our 3-course lunch menu. Sometimes known as dolphin fish or golden mackerel although it is probably more well known by its American (Hawaiian) name of Mahi Mahi, "Llampuga" has a slightly oily texture that I would describe somewhere as a cross between sea bass and tuna. Be careful when cooking as it tends to dry out quickly when overcooked, and it is best served a little pink in the middle.
The Mallorcan name of “llampuga” comes from the verb ‘llampegar’ (to flash, as in lightning), and the fishing season for this species coincides with the appearance of a few strong storms in late summer and some amazing lightening displays. Some say that the word ‘llampuga’ comes from the Latin lampare, which means shine, referring to the shiny golden colour of the fish; actually, in Spanish the ‘llampuga’ is also sometimes known by the name of “dorado”, which means ‘golden’. The fish are captured en nets called ‘llampugueres’ and they are long swimming, fast growing, migratory fish that originate in the Atlantic and immigrate to the Mediterranean when the water temperature is over 16 degrees. It’s one of those great-tasting seasonal fish that unfortunately have a very short season that runs from late august to October.
Some medieval Mallorcan recipe books already contain references to the manner of cooking dolphinfish. For me, the best way to cook llampuga is to pan-fry or grill large fillets and serve with a simple vinaigrette and a green salad. Ask your friendly local fishmonger to fillet the fish for you and cut them into good-sized portions. Heat a heavy-bottomed, non-stick frying over a strong flame. Season the fillets and drizzle the hot pan with little olive oil. Place the fillets skin side down and let them caramelise until the skin is nice and crisp. Turn them over and cook for another 30 seconds and serve. "Llampuga a la Mallorquina" is also a favourite recipe of mine, so here's the recipe.
LLAMPUGA A LA MALLORQUINA
Ingredients: Serves four
4 large fillets of llampuga (150g each)
12 new potatoes (boiled and sliced)
200g cleaned spinach
400ml virgin olive oil
100ml sherry vinegar
500g tomatoes (peeled and diced)
20g pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 tbsp. Chopped parsley
In a small saucepan, heat and bring to the boil the sherry vinegar. Add the sultanas and remove from the heat. Leave to cool and soak-up the vinegar. Add the olive oil, pine nuts, diced tomatoes and season to taste.
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, skin side down and cook for 1-2 minutes until the skin becomes crisp and golden. Turn over and cook for a further minute.
Remove the fillets and place them in a hot oven to finish cooking. Add the sliced potatoes to pan and warm them through with the fresh spinach.
Place a mound of sliced potatoes & spinach in the middle of each plate, set the fillets on top skin side-up. Spoon over the sauce and serve.
LLUMPUGA CON ESCABECHE DE SETAS
LLAMPUGA FISH WITH MUSHROOM “ESCABECHE”
Escabeche is a great way the Spanish have of preserving seasonal ingredients to enjoy the whole year round.
Ingredients: serves 4
4 Fillets of Llampuga (150g each)
For the “Escabeche”:
200g esclatasang mushrooms (cleaned and cit into small pieces)
200ml olive oil
100ml sherry vinegar
1 finely onion (sliced)
1 lemon (sliced)
3 garlic cloves (crushed)
2 Bay leafs
2tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
Place all the ingredients in a wide saucepan and cook over a gentle flame. Bring slowly to the boil and remove from the heat. Leave to cool and refrigerate for at least 6-8 hours.
Season the Llampuga fillets and grill or pan-fry them until they are sealed on the out side and a little pink in the middle.
Spoon over a little of the mushroom “Escabeche”. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately
LLUMPUGA WITH VENERE RICE & YELLOW PEPPER EMULSION
Ingredients: serves 4
4 fillets of Llampuga (about150g each)
For the venere rice:
250g venere rice
900ml fish stock
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1tsp fresh thyme, chopped
75g Parmesan, freshly grated
1 tbsp Mascarpone
2 tbsp Fosh olive oil
Fosh sea salt
For the venere rice:
Heat the stock to a slow simmer.
In a heavy bottom stock pot on medium heat add the olive oil and begin cooking the onions and garlic. Cook gently and allow the onions to soften without colour.
Increase the heat and add the rice. Coat with olive oil and lightly toast the grains for a minute. Add the white wine and ‘deglaze’. When the wine has evaporated add a large ladleful of stock. Continuously stir the rice until all the liquid has been absorbed and add another ladleful of stock. Continue this process, over a medium heat, for approximately 40 minutes. The rice texture should be ‘al dente’.
Add the mascarpone, grated Parmesan, olive oil, and season to taste.
For the yellow pepper emulsion:
2 yellow peppers
180ml olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Sea salt and pepper
Roast the yellow pepper in a hot oven or place under a hot grill. Cook until the skin starts to blister and blacken slightly.
Place in a bowl and cover with cling film. Make sure it is airtight.
The steam will help to remove the skin. When cold enough to handle peel the skin and discard the seeds. Place the peeled peppers in a blender and add the olive oil slowly to emulsify. Add the lemon juice and season to taste. Pass through a fine sieve and chill.
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, skin side down and cook for 1-2 minutes. The skin should become golden and crispy. Turn over and finish cooking. Approximately 2-3 minutes.
Place a large spoonful of venere rice in the middle of 4 plates and sit the Llampuga fillets on top. Serve with yellow pepper emulsion.
Venere rice is harvested by only a few growers in Italy’s Po Valley. It’s a cross between an ancient Chinese variety (that was reserved almost exclusively for the Emperor and his court) and Italian risotto rice. It needs prolonged cooking to release its fantastic flavour, but the end result is well worth it. It has a wonderful texture and, an almost, freshly baked bread aroma.