One of the best restaurants here in Uruguay is La Huella, in José Ignacio. We don’t go there very often, but it’s great every time. Last year, on my birthday, we shared several starters, but one was really special: it was similar to ceviche, but with some very different flavors.
I was intrigued, of course. When we asked for the check, the waiter told us they had a recipe book. I asked the obvious question: “Is this recipe in the book?”. A few minutes later, he came back and said that the recipe was not in the book, but that the chef would happily teach me how to make it! Obviously, I accepted! As you would expect, she didn’t give me exact measurements, but a good idea of the proportions.
I was sure I would cook that the next week, but I ended up not doing it. In fact, I procrastinated so much that I only cooked this now, for Summer Tertulias! 😀
For a light lunch for 4 people, you’ll need:
Approximately 800 g white fish, deboned – she used sea bass, I used brótola, so you can choose whatever white (and firm) fish. If you’re cooking for less people, reduce the amount, as this is best served immediately after it’s made.
½ red onion, very finely chopped – don’t grate it!
1 bunch of chives, very finely chopped – you can also use mint
1 heaping Tbsp Dijon mustard – next time, I’ll double the amount
2 Tbsp capers
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
Olive oil – roughly the same volume as the lemon juice
Start by chopping the fish into small cubes – mine were a little too big! 😦 It’s supposed to be smaller than your regular ceviche cubes. Season the fish with salt, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Place it back in the fridge, so it won’t lose its consistency.
Chop the red onion as finely as you can – do not crush or shred: the goal is to have mini cubes here! Chop the chives and the capers very finely, too – the capers will turn almost into a paste, don’t worry. In a bowl, mix the onion, the chives, the capers, the lemon zest, and the Dijon mustard. Set aside.
In another bowl, emulsify the lemon juice and olive oil. This is how I did it: I placed the lemon juice in a bowl and poured the olive oil slowly, whisking well. That required a lot of elbow grease, of course. I later looked it up and it turns out you can do that with a hand mixer! I’ll try that next time! Set the emulsion aside.
When you’re ready to serve, all you have to do is combine the fish with the onion mix and this emulsion in a big bowl. Taste (and adjust the seasoning) and serve with a nice green salad!
When I moved to Uruguay, one of the things I had to learn was to cook – no one can survive forever on pasta, cake, scrambled eggs, and tuna salad, right? (Seriously, that was basically all I could cook). I started by making simple, but different, things. One of those first recipes was tapenade, this French olive dip.
The recipe I used to make (I can’t remember where I found it!) called for equal amounts of green and black olives, garlic, salt, pepper, and basil. I would simply place everything on the food processor, pulse it, and there: a tasty dip. When I decided that February would be Dip Tertulias, I knew tapenade was going to be one of them. So, I tried to find the “original, authentic, yadda yadda yadda” recipe – but of course I couldn’t find it!
There seem to be a lot of different recipes, each of them adding/omitting an ingredient. Confused, I had to resort to Wikipedia, where I learned that the recipe calls for olives, capers, anchovies, and garlic! I found this recipe on The Guardian and decided to make it – well, adapt it. It was much tastier than the one I used to make!
It doesn’t yield a whole lot, which is fine: it’s pretty strong, so a little goes a long way!
½ cup of pitted black olives
2 Tbsp capers
2 anchovies, drained – we always have some, for Caesar salad dressing… or pizza. 😀
3 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp oregano/thyme – I used ½ Tbsp of each
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Olive oil, salt, and pepper, to taste – I skipped the salt, as the anchovies/capers were salty enough
Not only did I try a “more authentic” recipe, but I also tested the most traditional method: the mortar and pestle!
Coarsely chop the olives, capers, anchovies, and garlic. Place them in the mortar, add the herbs, and crush and grind everything until you get a paste that isn’t too chunky. Add roughly 2 Tbsp olive oil and use the pestle to mix it in. Season with salt and pepper.
OOOOR….. place everything on the food processor, pulsing until you get a somewhat chunky paste! 😀