The Gastrosite of Spanish Recipes

A Guide to Cooking Correctly by Carlos Mirasierras

Products used in the Spanish cuisine

Olive oil: Olive oil is described as the liquid gold of the Mediterranean cuisine. Extra virgin oil is produced in the first pressing process and should not be used, under no reason, for frying products as it represents a wastefulness. Salads taste much better with this oil. It has powerful anti-oxidative properties, as it has been described by nutritionists and oncologists.

Jamón serrano: In the first place, jamón serrano is not prosciutto,so the label "Spanish prosciutto" is thoroughly erroneous; it is as comparing Scotch whisky with bourbon, although both are liquors, so prosciuttois an excellent ham, but they are different. Well, going back to the subject, JS is a dry-cured ham, which is first covered with sea salt for a minimum oft twenty hours to two days per kilo of ham. It is placed in a curing area with a high level of humidity and a low temperature, while this makes the salt to stabilize the product. Bit by bit, the salt diffuses internally and draws out part of the intrinsic humidity of the ham meat (osmosis). When the external temperature is increased and the humidity is decreased the fresh meat becomes ham. The curing and refining process is completed in the final phase, in which the ham meat slowly strengthens its savory properties.

Chorizo: Spanish chorizo is a sausage made from coarsely chopped pork and pork fat, seasoned with smoked paprika "pimentón" and salt. It is generally classified as either spicy (picante) or sweet (dulce), while this depends upon the type of smoked paprika used. Hundreds of regional varieties of Spanish chorizo, both smoked and un-smoked, may contain garlic,herbs and other ingredients. For example, Pamplona-style chorizo is a bigger-in-size sausage, and its meat is more finely ground. Chorizo comes in short, long, hard and soft varieties; the leaner varieties are suited to being eaten at room temperature as an appetizer or as tapas, whereas the fattier versions are generally used for cooking. A general rule of thumb is that long, thin chorizos are sweet, and short chorizos are spicy. There are other types of chorizos. In Argentina a chorizo is a raw meat sausage, seasoned with some black pepper and salt to be fried. Chorizo criollo contains a raw mixture of pork and beef meat and is also fried to be consumed in a baguette-sandwich called choripan.

Morcilla (Black pudding): This is a sausage made with pork meat and fat, onion, or boiled rice, salt, coagulated blood from the pork and spices (clove, principally). There are numerous types of Spanish morcillas:from Burgos, Aragón, Asturias, León, Matachana, Palencia, Valladolid, Murcia, La Mancha, Galicia, etc.

Cheeses:Spain produces many types of cheese. Some of them are internationally known. There are cheeses made from cow, goat and sheep milk, as well as cheeses made from the mixture of the abovementioned milks, while the following cheeses are worldwide known: Manchego, Idiazabal, Roncal, Cabrales, Tetilla Gallega,Burgalés, Mahón, Vall d'Arán, Mató, among others. There are at present 23 cheeses protected under geographical indication (GI), and a great deal of them have noGI.

Beans: Origin and family: Beans are starchy seeds, extracted from mature and dry pods growing on leguminous plants of the genus Phaseolus, although there are other types that belong to different botanical genera, as for example,Vigna, Dolichos and Canavalia. Beans have different names depending on the country of origin, such as judías, fagioli, haricots, frijoles, bonen, etc. In Spain, they also also have different names depending on the region from which they are harvested: mongetes, fabas, babarrunak, feixón, faba, fabots white beans or caparrones. The common bean is native to Latin America, and especially to two places of origin: Mexico - Central America and Peru-Ecuador-Bolivia. Although Greeks and Romans in Europe knew a related species to the common bean; we can say almost certainly that beans were introduced to this continent from America in the sixteenth century. Today, the bean is widely distributed in different parts of the tropics, subtropics and temperate regions, and they are the most important leguminous plant in Latin America and different parts of Africa.

Anchovies: They are a gregarious and pelagic fish belonging to the family of sardines. Their back is bluish and the belly is silver, and they have a more elongated shape than sardines.It's a spring fish that is caught when it's closer to the coast. Anchovies can be found in the market, fresh, smoked, semi-preserved, without heat treatment, in oil and with a previously treatment of salt, or in pickle. Its freshness can be determined by its intact and undamaged state. A normal portion should not exceed a weight of 250 g per serving. It's a blue and saltwater fish.

Baby eels: Eel farming. The breeding process of eels begins when they spawn in the Sargasso Sea. Once larvae hatch from the eggs they are about 5 mm long and have the shape of a leaf. They gather together to form masses that swim out to sea. They will take at least three years to reach the European river mouths. They eat each other during that time and remain in the river mouths waiting for strong tides to push them up the river.

Baby eelsare found inall the riversof Europeexcept those flowing intothe Black Sea.The consumption of baby eels was limited toVizcayaandGuipúzcoa, but it now seems that it is extending to other areas. When eels are caughtthey weigh around 1 gram, and are 3 inches long, but they're already three years old. Eelsare usuallysold already cooked.

How to cook them: Heat some olive oil in an earthenware; add some sliced ​​garlic and chilli, and remove thegarlic when it has browned a bit. Turn down the heat a bit and add the baby eels, but then turn up again the heatto make the eels boil in the oil. Fry for some 5-10 sec, and serve when still hot.

Rice (Bomba rice): It's a grainvariety known as Japonica,which has apearly appearance. Its grainis roundand short-about 5 mm longand 2.1mmwide. Many experts ascribe theextraordinaryculinary quality of this rice grain to the chemical compositionthat make possiblea perfect balance between amylose andamylopectin. Besides, theaccordion effectthat this rice undergoes during the cooking process allows the grain to remain intact and loose. Thesefeatures make bomba riceparticularly suitable for the Mediterranean cuisine.
Suggested use: Because the size of rice increases up to four times during cooking, it is necessary to simmer itwith some more stock: 3 parts and½ of stock per 1 of rice. Cooking time is slightly longer (20 minutes).

Tuna:Its scientific name isThunnusthynnus. It is thelargesttuna. Tuna pieces can weigh up to 800 kgand measure up to four meters.Malesare largerthan females. Compared with albacores, theirpectoral fins of tune areshorter.As to proportions, tunas have a head, eyes and mouthsmaller than albacores and the lower jawprotrudesto thetop. The back is dark bluish gray,with metallic reflections, it also has blue-gray flanks and a silvery belly. Fins aregrayor brown, although the firstdorsaland caudal fins are usuallyblue.They live in waters between 10and 24º C. Their migration cycleis as follows: In winter, some of them are in theAtlantictriangleand others inthe Mediterranean. In summer they can be found in the Mediterranean, orgoto the North Atlantic up to Norway. However,they spawnin the Mediterranean in May and June.
They eat the same as albacores,but add some type ofcrustaceans to their diet. Int he Spanish peninsula they're caught inthe Bay of Biscayfrom May to August, and from May toOctober inthe Mediterranean sea. In markets, it is sold together with albacoreand has the same culinary uses, but it isof lesser quality.It is used primarilyto be canned. It's a blue fish that lives in saltwater.

Saffron: It isa herbaceous and bulbous plant. It haslong, greenand linear leavesthat grow intoplumes. It is native tothe East, whereit has been cultivated for its scented, coloring andmedicinal properties. Saffroncultivation continues inthe area known as La Mancha, and evenin manyvillages in the areasignificant amounts of this plant were included inthe dowry of marriageable daughters. Saffron gets a very highpricein the species markets as the growing,harvestingand handlingprocess is verydelicate.

Cod: This is a fish with a bighead and mouth. Prominentupper jaw,withsmall and strong teethandbarbel.It also has small eyes, a slender body,and a thin tail root. Scales are very small and the lateral line is very pronounced. The color of these fish varies, depending on the habitat, from yellowish gray to green orreddish brown, but always with eyespots.It isan omnivorous fish that can weigh from3 to 15kg. and can measure from 40 cm to one meter, although cod fish of 150 cm in length and 40kg of weight have also been caught. They may live up to 25 years.

Bream: This is a fish with a tall and compressed body.It is characterized bya black spotonthe pectoral fin close to the lateral line and the dorsal fins Ithasa redtrunk with palerflanksand a silvery belly. The averageweight goes from 1to 1.5 kg. It is mainly caught in both the Bay of Biscayand the Atlantic sea, and feedsmostlyon crustaceans. It is usually caught all year round,but itis better caught inDecember and January. The level of freshness can be determined by the eyes, which must have a dark color.It issemi-fatfish that lives in saltwater, although the amount of fatdepends on the season.

Chorizo peppers:

Chorizo peppers are similar to ñora peppers; both are red peppers dried in the sun. They keep well and offer great aroma and flavour in cooking. However, they shouldn't be confused as each one has its own flavour and its different uses; chorizo peppers are soaked in water, opened and the pulp is scraped out with a knife to add to the dish you are cooking. Chorizo peppers have a sweeter and more acidic flavour than ñora peppers. They are used for the preparation of traditional dishes in Spanish cuisine such as Marmitako, Rioja style potatoes, Biscayan cod or chick peas and tripe, but also, they can be fried up and eaten with fried eggs and sausages.

Tags: Fabada Asturiana, Callos a la Madrileña, Le Cordon Bleu International, University of Gastronomic Sciences, Master of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy, School of Gastronomy, Snacks, Crítica Gastronómica



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