Monday 20 November 2017

Spain's star seafood dishes inspired by San Sebastian

Vieiras gratin
Vieiras gratin
Tuna Carpaccio with Olive, Mango and Caper dressing

Create a taste of Michelin-starred San Sebastián at home with these delicious seafood dishes

When you think of Spanish food, it's probably tapas that comes to mind, but the country's contribution to world cuisine extends far beyond bite-sized dishes. Much like Ireland, Spain is a country that prizes home-cooking using quality ingredients, and seafood in particular. That's the philosophy followed by Omar Allibhoy, the Gordon Ramsay-trained chef and restaurateur behind Spanish Made Simple. The new cookbook features popular Spanish dishes as well as recipes that have been passed down through generations of Allibhoy's family. "My philosophy in the kitchen has always been the same: cook without fuss and eat like a king," he says. "Eating great food is a luxury we all have the right to, so make the most of it."

Almejas a la Marinera (Clams fisherman-style)

Clams fisherman-style

This dish relies on fresh clams and little more, as this is how fishermen would cook them while out on the boat. But it's just as popular on land!

Serves 4 as a tapa.


600g (1lb 5oz) clams, cleaned and any open or damaged shells discarded

60ml (¼ cup) extra-virgin olive oil

½ onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

¼ red chilli, finely chopped

2 tsp plain flour

1tsp sweet pimenton (sweet smoked paprika)

1tsp salt

160ml (⅔ cup) white wine

2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped


Put the clams in a large bowl or in the sink, cover with cold salty water and leave for 1 hour, moving them around with your hand from time to time. This will help the clams to open and release any sand.

Place a large frying pan over a high heat and add the oil, onion, garlic and chilli and cook until the onion is transparent and soft, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat and add the flour, pimenton and salt, stirring continuously for 1 minute to cook the flour and make a roux.

Add the wine, little by little, stirring vigorously until the wine and flour are completely combined. Continue to cook for at least 2 minutes over a low heat. If you see that the sauce is getting too thick, add a bit of water.

Drain the clams and add them to the pan with the parsley, stir thoroughly, cover and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the lid and toss the mixture a few times.

By now, all the clams should be open; if not, cover and cook for another minute or so.

Discard any clams that do not open before serving.


Carpaccio de Atun (Tuna Carpaccio with Olive, Mango and Caper dressing)

fd2 Tuna carpaccio.jpg
Tuna Carpaccio with Olive, Mango and Caper dressing

In Spain, we fish tuna off both the north and south coasts of the peninsula. It is very highly regarded, a real delicacy that's pricey but worth every penny.

Whether preserved in a glass jar, stewed or served raw, its particular taste and texture transform any recipe into a treat. This lean dish will bring you a smile.

Serves 4.


300g (10½oz) fresh tuna loin, about 4cm (1½in) wide and 20cm (8in) long

1 lemon

½ mango, peeled and diced small

6 pitted black olives, halved

1 fresh red chilli pepper, finely chopped

1tbsp finely chopped fresh chives

2tbsp capers

6tbsp extra virgin olive oil

A few fresh coriander leaves

A pinch of sea salt


Cut the tuna into 2 smaller loins about 4cm (1ƒin) wide and 10cm (4in) long and sear very lightly on all sides in a very hot, dry pan, for about 10 seconds on each side. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for 2 hours.

Remove the plastic wrap from the chilled tuna and cut into 5mm (ªin) slices with a sharp knife. Arrange on a plate.

Zest the lemon and then remove the peel and cut the flesh into small cubes. Place in a bowl with the mango, olives, chilli pepper and chives. Add the capers and olive oil, mix well and then use to dress the tuna. Garnish with the coriander, season with a bit of salt and enjoy.

Vieiras Gratinadas (Scallop and Serrano Ham Gratin served in shell)

Scallops are more common here than they are in Spain. In my country, we don't eat them that much. This is perhaps because we have a larger variety of other seafood available.

Having said that, this recipe carries a flavour punch.

For those who hate anchovies, don't let the anchovy in the breadcrumbs put you off; trust me when I say that after cooking, the anchovy will not taste anything like it does when you take it out of the tin.

Serves 4 as a tapa.


8 scallops in their shells (you can ask your fishmonger to open them for you)

275ml (1 cup + 2½tbsp) whole milk

30g (2tbsp) butter

½ onion, finely chopped

30g (1oz) serrano ham, finely chopped

30g (3⅔tbsp) plain flour

A pinch of salt

A pinch of white pepper

4tbsp breadcrumbs

1 salted anchovy

1 sprig fresh parsley


Open the scallops and use a sharp knife to separate the meat from the shell. Scrap any ugly bits so that you're left with the white meat and the red roe. If you don't like the roe, just remove it. Wash the shells and scallops, pat dry with kitchen paper and set aside.

Warm the milk in a small pan over a low heat. Preheat the grill (broiler) to hot. Melt the butter in a medium pan over a medium heat and fry the onion and ham for a few minutes until the onion is soft and transparent.

Add the flour and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring continuously until the flour has a light toasted colour. Add the warmed milk, little by little, and the salt and pepper, stirring all the time until you have a smooth and silky white sauce.

Lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring so that the sauce doesn't stick to the pan. Tip the breadcrumbs, anchovy and parsley into a food processor and blend.

Line up the shells on a baking sheet and place a scallop on each shell. Cover with a couple of spoonfuls of the ham bechamel and sprinkle over the anchovy breadcrumbs. Grill for 5 minutes and serve hot.

Irish Independent

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