October 6th. 2013
The weather forecast said there might be showers, but we woke up to sunshine and a few white clouds – the temperature was about 24º C.
I headed for the outdoor kitchen – there’s a large sink (much bigger than indoors), a little electric burner and a handy bar fridge in the rooftop cupboard.
The first thing to be done was cleaning the fish. We’d bought baby merluza (hake) and salmonetes (striped red mullet) in the Boqueria yesterday. The merluza (right) came cleaned, so I just had to rinse them in cold water, but the salmonetes needed a full clean and scale. They have quite thick scales and it’s time consuming to remove them, however, these little mullet taste great, so it’s worth the effort.
I mixed lots of chopped garlic, coriander (cilantro), lemon juice, seasoning and olive oil to make a marinade,
which was poured on top of the fish.
Next came vegetable kebabs, with courgette, lemon, mushrooms, onions, red pepper and tomatoes.
There was also a meat kebab, with large chicken hearts and vegetables.
Everything was ready when people started to arrive at 2pm.
Jonas brought the wine that makes us all laugh – it must be something in the name. To be fair, Chitón is a very good Rioja.
We server the Octopus Carpaccio with the salad – it came out of the bottle, pressed in a nice solid form.
We sliced it with a very sharp cleaver rather than a knife. It was cut more thickly than I would have liked.
I think next time I’ll wrap it in a cloth to get a better grip on it and use a thin, sharp fish filleting knife to cut it, like slicing Jamón Serrano. The Octopus Carpaccio was sprinkled with lemon juice, olive oil and hot Pimentón de la Vera. It tasted amazing.
The marinated quail came out of the fridge to warm up and I lit the barbecue wheelbarrow.
When the coals turned an good white colour, the quail got a roasting.
The chicken heart kebabs went on when I turned the quail over. Quail take about 30 minutes on a hot barbecue, you can tell they are done if you can pull a leg off easily. They don’t need to be cooked to death like chicken. In contrast, the chicken hearts needed about an hour of cooking before they were done. Surprisingly they were as popular as the quail and went like hot cakes.
The vegetable kebabs were cooked in a griddle pan on a hot plate.
It kept them meat free and there probably wasn’t enough room on the barbecue wheelbarrow anyway.
The fish took about 10 minutes to cook.
With fish this small
they are ready when they look slightly browned on each side.
If in doubt open one up and check that the flesh is firm. The baby merluza were lovely delicate little hake and the salmonetes were deliciously creamy, so worth all the scaling.
We had Higos Chumbos (prickly pears) for pudding.
They grow with large spikes which are removed before selling. However, they also contain almost invisible, hair like barbs which easily penetrate your flesh. Wear gloves or hold them in a cloth while peeling off the skin. Once peeled the inside tastes a bit like melon and bubble gum. More on these in a later post…
We sat and watched the sunset and when it was thoroughly dark, by about 10pm, we went inside and found a couple more bottles of rosado in the fridge downstairs…
We got very lucky with the weather. At one point, Debbie pointed at a large black cloud heading our way and suggested we head downstairs. We stood our ground and it just blew over. All the food disappeared without a trace!