Story and photo by Manos Angelakis
Bottle shots courtesy of the importers.
The Iberian Peninsula produces great wines, outstanding pork products, exceptional cheeses and extra virgin olive oil second to none.
Even though my cooking experience is based in Eastern Mediterranean dishes using lots of regional olive oil and juice of fresh lemons, during the last few years I discovered that oils from Spain and Portugal, both blends and monovarietals, work better with a number of the dishes I prefer, such as Imam Bayildi, Artichokes a-la-polita, and grilled fish in an oil and lemon marinade.
I purchase Casas de Hualdo Spanish monovarietal oils such as Arbequina and Manzanilla for salads. A horiatiki i.e. Greek village salad, with New Jersey (Rutgers) tomatoes, white onion slices, kirby cucumber slices and a slab of feta cheese on top sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil and fresh oregano or basil is my go-to summer salad, eaten with very fresh baguette bread to sop the juices. I use the Picual or Cornicabra monovarietals of Casas de Hualdo, that have a more robust flavor, as dressing for grilled fish.
The Portuguese oil producer I prefer is Herdade do Esporão Estate from Alentejo. Herdade do Esporão also produces exceptional wines and, whenever I’m in Lisbon I make sure to visit and taste the latest vintages. But, I also like very much their olive oil that was sent to me by First Press PR. Herdade do Esporão Estate brings in the USA Galega, Cordovil and Cobrançosa monovarietal extra virgin olive oils as well as an oil blend, and I use Galega or the blend for salads and the other two varieties for fish or to poach eggplant and other vegetables.
In Istanbul’s fish market, the famous Balık Pazar, kılıç i.e. swordfish is one of the most favored fresh fish to be purchased, followed by bonito pickled in brine, locally known as lakerda.
The most usual swordfish preparation in Turkey, is skewering fish cubes and vegetables (onion, tomato, peppers and bay leaves) into kabobs and grilling them on a charcoal grill, in the garden or veranda.
Since I do not have access to a charcoal grill -- I live in an apartment, in a high-rise, where no grills are allowed by the city in verandas or balconies – I cube a fish section, about 1.5 lbs. for two persons, making about 2” or slightly larger cubes; then I marinate the cubes overnight before grilling in my kitchen stove.
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil; I use Casas de Hualdo monovarietal Cornicabra extra virgin oil whose taste I love or Esporão’s Cobrançosa; but any high-quality extra virgin olive oil would work.
juice of 1 large lemon.
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and pressed through a garlic press.
I mix all the ingredients in a bowl and whip them to create an emulsion.
I remove the skin of the fish by sliding a sharp knife in the fat-layer between the skin and flesh and slice the flesh to 2” or 2.5”cubes; I marinate the cubes in the refrigerator overnight, turning the cubes at least twice.
Rest of ingredients:
1 large white or red onion quartered, then each quarter halved.
2 or 3 good-sized plum tomatoes, cut in 1/3 and the center pieces halved.
8 bay leaves, soaked in warm water to soften.
1 red pepper (capsicum) or a large cubanelle pepper, halved, internal ribs and seeds removed, cut into square slices.
Sea salt and cracked green Malabar pepper to taste.
Sometimes, I will add other veggies, such as broccoli spears or cauliflower florets to the ends of the skewers to grill.
I use 4 medium-sized skewers and rub them with a piece of paper towel soaked in olive oil to make them sleek. I start with a couple onion slices on the skewer, then a piece of tomato, then a fish cube, then a piece of pepper and finally a bay leaf, and I repeat. I sprinkle the fish cubes with sea salt and cracked green Malabar pepper. It usually takes three stacks of fish and vegetables per skewer to make half a portion (2 skewers per person).
I place all skewers on a metal or Pyrex tray and poor the balance of the marinade on top of the kabobs.
I grill the skewers 7 minutes per side on high, until the vegetable skins show a little charring.
I remove the skewers to plates and poor the cooked marinade and juices on top.
I taste one of the fish cubes for salt & pepper and adjust, if needed.
The kabobs are usually served with yellow rice on the side or, preferably, saffron rice with raisins or dry cranberries and almond slivers mixed in. Good to sop the extra marinade.
You can call me old-fashioned, but I still believe that the best wine to accompany the fish kabobs is a light white, perhaps something like a Soave from the Veneto or a Greek Assyrtiko or even something a bit more substantial, like a Heredade de São Miguel, Colheita Seleccionada, an almost eye-of-the-partridge rosé blend of Touriga Nacional, Aragonez and Syrah.
This last bottle is very good with grilled fish. Lemon and tropical fruits dominate the palate. The acidity is outstanding and the mouthfeel is very pleasant. It offers much more complexity than I expected from a rosé in the medium price range (depending on your location)..
Iyi Sağlık – (to your) Good Health
© September 2021 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.
In this issue: