José Pizarro's seared saffron monkfish with black-eyed beans

The Spanish Home Kitchen: 3 seafood recipes by José Pizarro

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Acclaimed chef  José Pizarro shares three Spanish-inspired seafood recipes for your summer table.

We’re just a few weeks into summer and the weather gods seem to be on our side (for now). As most of the UK sizzles this week with temperatures staying well above average, those that are yet to book a holiday away will be feeling slightly better about their lack of planning. Because when the weather’s this good at home, why would we want to go anywhere else? Especially when we have a roster of recipes that can transport us far away from our kitchen table. 

Enter acclaimed Spanish chef José Pizarro, whose latest cookbook, The Spanish Home Kitchen, drops this week and offers us a look at his own favourite recipes from his home in Extremadura. We may not be jetting off for guaranteed sunshine and a taste of the Mediterranean, but with the collection of over 80 dishes, José is bringing a taste of Spanish culture to us.  

The Spanish Home Kitchen: Simple, Seasonal Recipes and Memories from My Home by José Pizarro
The Spanish Home Kitchen: Simple, Seasonal Recipes and Memories from My Home by José Pizarro

And while Pizarro’s hometown is slightly inland from the coast, when we envision a Spanish vacation, we see plates piled high with paella, sizzling Gambas al ajillo and barbecued whole sardines – which is exactly why we’re sharing three seafood-centric recipes from the cookbook.

Pizarro’s seared saffron monkfish with black-eyed beans is a simple recipe that will be a winner time and time again. Seared monkfish fragrant with saffron is coupled with a herb and tomato rich bean salad to make for an ideal summer dish. All that’s missing is the glass of wine.

We’re solidly in the camp that believes that most dishes are made better with the addition of an egg. Case in point, Pizarro’s pan-fried cod with chorizo, wild mushrooms and a poached egg. Flavoured with chorizo, mushrooms, tomatoes and herbs, the just-poached egg adds an extra layer of richness.

And if you’re looking for a new summer salad recipe, why not try Pizarro’s Russian salad with homemade confit tuna. While the recipe is more process-heavy, making your own mayonnaise and opting for home-prepared confit tuna rather than a tin will be sure to turn heads at your next barbecue. 

  • Seared saffron monkfish with black-eyed beans

    José Pizarro's seared saffron monkfish with black-eyed beans
    José Pizarro's seared saffron monkfish with black-eyed beans

    José says: “Black-eyed beans are known as carillas in Spanish, but in some areas of the country they call them ‘niños con chaleco’, which literally means ‘kids with vests’. I suppose they might look a bit like that, but I can’t really see it personally, nor do I have any idea where the name came from: that’s just what they call them. Anyway, this recipe is very close to my heart because it was one of my dad’s favourite dishes. He would always smile when this came to the table. My mum wouldn’t have made it with monkfish at home: she just used to serve the beans as starter. Obviously, doing it that way makes it vegetarian, but if you want something extra – and I highly recommend it – fry some chorizo just before the onions: it will take the dish to the next level!”

    Serves 4-6

    Ingredients

    • 150g black-eyed beans, soaked overnight in cold water
    • 6 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 onion, finely chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, grated
    • 50g coriander, stalks and leaves separated and chopped
    • 1 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon sweet smoked pimentón de la Vera
    • good pinch of cayenne pepper
    • 400g large vine tomatoes, chopped
    • 100ml vegetable stock
    • good pinch of saffron threads
    • 4 x 200g monkfish fillets
    • extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
    • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Method

    Put the beans in a large saucepan and cover with cold salted water. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 40–50 minutes until they are just tender. Drain well.

    Return the now-empty saucepan to the hob and heat three tablespoons of the oil over a low heat. Add the onion and gently fry for 10 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, chopped coriander (cilantro) stalks and ground spices and fry for a few minutes more. Add the tomatoes and cook for another five minutes, then pour in the stock and season well. Return the drained beans to the pan and cook for 10–12 minutes.

    Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, gently heat two tablespoons of the oil with the saffron over a low heat, then set aside to infuse.

    Heat the remaining one tablespoon of oil in a frying pan over a high heat. Add the monkfish and fry for four to five minutes on each side until golden and just cooked.

    Stir the chopped coriander leaves through the beans and spoon into bowls. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, then place a monkfish fillet in each bowl and drizzle over the saffron oil. Finish with a good grinding of black pepper and serve.

  • Pan-fried cod with chorizo, wild mushrooms and a poached egg

    José Pizarro's pan-fried cod with chorizo, wild mushrooms and a poached egg
    José Pizarro's pan-fried cod with chorizo, wild mushrooms and a poached egg

    José says: “The cod I use in my restaurants is from Norway. There’s something magical about the cold, clean Norwegian waters, which are home to the most incredible fish. I have been lucky enough to visit Norway and go fishing for skrei, the migrating cod that come from the Barents Sea to spawn along the coast of Norway. This was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, and I feel so honoured to have done it. Cod is easily one of the most beautiful kinds of fish, but it’s important not overcook it (which so many people do), as you risk killing the subtle layers of sea flavours. Funnily enough, fresh cod is really hard to find in Spanish markets – in fact, I can’t remember ever seeing it there! What is very popular – and, I have to say, always in my mum’s fridge at home – is salted cod. So, if you can’t get fresh cod, salted cod is absolutely fine to use here.”

    Ingredients

    • 6 tablespoons olive oil
    • 300g wild mushrooms such as níscalo (saffron milk cap) mushrooms or girolles
    • 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
    • 200g stale bread, diced
    • 200g chorizo, diced
    • 150g tomatoes, chopped
    • 4 cod fillets (about 200g)
    • 4 free-range eggs
    • handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
    • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Method

    Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a frying pan (skillet) over a high heat and fry the mushrooms and garlic for six to eight minutes until golden and crisp. Season, then scoop out of the pan and set aside on a plate.

    Add a further two tablespoons of the oil to the pan and fry the bread for two to three minutes until golden, then transfer to the plate with the mushrooms. Now add the chorizo to the pan and fry for five minutes until the fat has been released and the chorizo is golden. Add the tomatoes and plenty of seasoning and cook for another few minutes, then turn off the heat.

    Meanwhile, season the cod and heat the remaining oil in a separate frying pan. Fry, skin-side down, for three to four minutes until golden. At the same time, poach the eggs in a pan of barely simmering water.

    Flip the fish over and fry for two minutes on the other side until just cooked and golden.

    Return the mushrooms and fried bread to the first frying pan and toss with the tomatoey chorizo. Divide this mixture between four plates, then top each one with a golden cod fillet and a poached egg. Scatter with parsley and serve.     

  • Russian salad with homemade confit tuna

    José Pizarro's Russian salad with homemade confit tuna
    José Pizarro's Russian salad with homemade confit tuna

    José says: “I’ve tried and tasted many different versions of Russian salad in my life. There are many really great variations, and you can find this salad everywhere from service stations (which can be amazing in Spain, by the way), great tapas bars and restaurants. I have to say that one of the best Russian salads I’ve ever had is the one made by my sister Isabel – she prepares it very simply, with potatoes, good-quality tinned tuna, peas, green olives, roasted peppers, boiled eggs and plenty of good mayonnaise. In my version here, I’m not using as much mayo as you’d normally find in the dish, keeping it nice and light. I think this way you can really see and taste the individual ingredients. Tinned tuna is great, but if you confit it yourself it is really special.”

    Ingredients

    For the confit tuna:

    • 500ml olive oil
    • finely pared zest of 1 lemon
    • 10 black peppercorns
    • 1 garlic clove, bashed
    • 350g fresh albacore or yellowfin tuna

    For the salad:

    • 400g red-skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 cm (½ in) cubes
    • 175g carrots, peeled and cut into 1 cm (½ in) cubes
    • 150 g (5 oz) frozen peas
    • 2 free-range eggs
    • 50g cornichons, chopped
    • 50g green olives, pitted and sliced
    • 2 tablespoons capers
    • 150g piquillo or roasted red peppers, sliced
    • extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

    For the mayo:

    • 2 free-range egg yolks
    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
    • 250ml olive oil (from the confit tuna)
    • 50ml extra virgin olive oil
    • lemon juice, to taste

    Method

    Begin with the confit tuna. Pour the oil into a saucepan over a medium-high heat and heat to 150°C (300°F), or until a cube of bread browns in around 45 seconds. Add the lemon zest, peppercorns and garlic and infuse for 10 minutes. Now add the tuna and cook for 10 minutes until the tuna is tender and just cooked through. Remove from the oil and set aside – remember to save half of the oil for the mayonnaise later.

    Put the cubed potatoes into a large saucepan of cold salted water. Bring to the boil and simmer for three to four minutes until tender. Drain well. Next, cook the carrots in a saucepan of boiling water for two to three minutes, adding the peas for the last minute, then drain and toss with the potatoes in a large bowl. 

    Meanwhile, put the eggs into a pan of cold water, bring to the boil and cook for six minutes. Drain and cool under running cold water, peel, chop then set aside.

    To make the mayonnaise put the egg yolks, mustard and white wine vinegar into a bowl and whisk together with plenty of seasoning. Gradually whisk in the oil from the confit and then the extra virgin olive oil until you have a thick glossy mayonnaise. Add lemon juice to taste.

    Add half of the mayonnaise to the bowl with the potatoes, carrots and peas. Add the chopped egg and two-thirds of the cornichons, olives and capers. Mix well.

    Flake the tuna and very gently fold it into the salad. Top with the peppers and the sliced eggs, then scatter over the rest of the cornichons, olives and capers. Drizzle with oil and serve.

    The Spanish Home Kitchen: Simple, Seasonal Recipes and Memories from My Home by José Pizarro (Hardie Grant, £27) is out now

Photography © Emma Lee

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