Saturday, 4 June 2011

Food & Drink: 2 - Salmorejo

When taking lunch in Córdoba, Jordi Cotelo, the main character of After Goya, opts for salmorejo as a first course.

Salmorejo is a simple, though fabulous, dish from Córdoba - with its origins in Moorish Spain - perfect for  summer afternoons.

Many people describe it as like gazpacho - cold tomato soup - only thicker. Unfair description I think, as it has a flavour quite its own. It's more like a tomato flavoured hummus, or tomato baba ghanoush.

I've become quite adept at making salmorejo. Try my recipe, I'll think you'll like it. No cooking involved.
If organised it takes about twenty minutes, and then one hour minimum cooling time in the fridge.
Good dish for vegetarians - just omit ham garnish when serving.

What you'll need:
  • A good, sharp knife.
  • A chopping board.
  • A deep bowl.
  • A couple of small bowls. 
  • A small pan for boiling eggs.
  • A spoon. 
  • A spatula.
  • A conical sieve.  
  • A blender.
  • A fridge

    Ingredients (for 4):
    • 500g of good quality fresh plum tomatoes (or pear tomatoes as they're known in Spain) NOT tinned.
    • A stale French or Spanish stick of bread (preferably NOT a baguette, and certainly NOT stale sliced white).
    • 2 cloves of garlic.
    • A red (or green - but NOT yellow) capiscum (or bell) pepper.
    • 2 free-range eggs.
    • A few slices of, or packet of ready-diced, serrano ham.
    • 2 dessert spoons of good quality vinegar (preferably apple, or sherry, but NOT balsamico).
    • 2 dessert spoons of good quality olive oil (preferably extra virgin, and preferably from Córdoba province - the Carbonell brand is often the most easy to find in UK and US stores).
    • Boiling water to peel tomatoes.

    Put the kettle on for boiling water. Hard boil the eggs.

    I prefer to peel the tomatoes - others don't bother. It's not really very difficult (especially if they are good quality tomatoes). Take the knife and put a small cross at the crown of each tomato and place in the bowl. Pour on boiling water, making sure to cover the tomatoes, and let rest while you break up the bread and put through the blender to make fine breadcrumbs. Put the breadcrumbs in a bowl and set aside. Chop the pepper, remove the seeds and white pithy bits, and chop the garlic.

    After eggs have boiled place in cold water to cool. Return to tomatoes and drain hot water and pour on cold water and drain again. Then take each tomato and nip skin at the crown between thumb and forefinger and gently remove skin. Easy isn't it? Discard skin. Chop each tomato in half and place in blender, add chopped garlic and pepper into the blender. Give the mixture a good blast.

    Now, I prefer to strain the tomato seeds - others don't. To strain, pour the tomato pulp from the blender through the conical sieve into the bowl the tomatoes were in. Run the spoon around the sieve to extract as much good juice as you can. Discard seeds.

    Put the breadcrumbs into the blender and pour on the tomato, pepper and garlic juice, add the oil and vinegar (though others insist, I don't think you'll need salt - add if you prefer.). Pulse the blender a few times to mix the breadcrumbs and juice then give it a good blast.

    Pour mixture, which should be of porridge-like consistency, back into the bowl. If too runny add more breadcrumbs. If too clumpy add more fruit. Put bowl in the fridge for a minimum of one hour.

    Peel the hard boiled eggs. Gently separate the whites and yolks and finely chop the white. If using slices of ham, instead of ready-diced, dice the ham.

    To serve, put a few ladles of the mixture into serving bowls and sprinkle a good measure of egg white, and a heaped teaspoon of diced ham onto the mixture.

    Try a spoonful. Yum. Think of Andalucia. Think of Cotelo negotiating a rapprochement with his assistant. Acknowledge hearty thanks from happy family and friends.

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