August 14th, 2014
A small hake fillet and a couple of haddock fillets landed in my lap (very cheaply) today. Hake always makes me think of allioli – both are very popular in Barcelona and seem to go hand in hand. Allioli is an emulsion made of garlic and olive oil (all i oli in the Catalan language) which seems to go very well with most fish, chicken, lamb and potatoes.
I thought I’d dust the fish with seasoned flour, pan fry it in olive oil and serve it with fried potatoes and allioli on the side. While I was peeling the garlic I remembered seeing a recipe in Colman Andrews book, Catalan Cuisine, for Patates amb Allioli (scalloped potatoes with allioli) and went to look it up…
I liked the idea but preferred my own allioli recipe here. Strictly speaking, a traditional allioli is made with garlic, olive oil and a pinch of salt only. The addition of eggs turns it into garlic mayonnaise and many Catalans will tell you it’s just not right! However, it is increasingly common for allioli to be made with eggs, since they aid in the emulsification and make it possible to prepare in a food processor. In this case, I like the addition of eggs because they help to bind the potatoes when baking and give the dish a nice golden colour.
Patates amb Allioli (serves 2):
3 pieces of garlic (peeled and squashed a little with the back of a knife)
2 egg yolks
the juice of a lemon
one third of a bottle of extra virgin olive oil
4 medium potatoes (peeled and sliced)
Peel and slice the potatoes (I used Désirée which are waxy and floury – this means they hold their shape well and absorb the allioli) and boil them in salted water for about 10 minutes. Rinse them with cold water and allow them to cool.
While the potatoes boil, put the garlic and a pinch of salt into a food processor. When the garlic is chopped add the two egg yolks and blitz until the eggs and garlic have emulsified. Then slowly drizzle in the olive oil – you will hear the food processor change tone as the allioli thickens. Finally squeeze in the juice of a lemon and give the allioli one last whizz.
Oil a baking dish to prevent sticking and make alternate layers of potato (dry with some kitchen towel if necessary) and allioli. Sprinkle on a little black pepper and bake in a preheated oven at 200º C for about 30 minutes, or until the mixture has gone puffy and golden.
I served my fish and potatoes with some seasonal broad beans and peas. I also had some extra allioli on the side and a glass of Torres De Casta rosado – labeled Viña Sol rosé in the UK.
It did occur to me later that one could cook the fish and potatoes in the oven together with a little more allioli…
N.B. In case of disaster where the mixture splits, I learnt a great tip from an Elizabeth David book (regarding making mayonnaise and it works for allioli too) – if the egg yolks and olive oil fail to bind, set your mixture aside and clean your mortar and pestle (or food processor). Beat another two eggs and slowly add your original mixture, it should all bind together. You have the expense of another two eggs, but at least you don’t have to throw all your previous ingredients away. I notice that the tip is included in this article on perfect mayonnaise.