Another few days at El Quim de la Boqueria

11 Aug

Ahhh, back where I started this journey – en el Mercado de la Boqueria con my jefe, Quim. It has been fun to be back in the kitchen at El Quim’s with the guys, and super busy! Summer is their busy time, of course, as it’s tourist season. Many people in Barcelona take off for the month of August, so other restaurants are closed. Quim’s smart and he stays open. So, I think he gets even more traffic because of it.

I introduced 2 new dishes to them this week, for which I’ll write the recipes below. They are not my inventions as I took components from other recipes I’ve read, but they are California-esque which Quim and clan wanted to learn, and they are great for hot summer days. There are really fresh, citrus components to each. Today, it was in the upper 80s/lower 90s fahrenheit. In the market, which is open air, it was even hotter.

Thursday, I made a monkfish, which is a very common fish from the Mediterranean, surrounded by 2 salsas. On the bottom was a cooked tomato fondue and on the top was a fresh summer squash salsa. For this recipe at home, I would choose a firm, white fish, but just about any white fish – fresh or salt water – will work great. If it’s really fresh, get a fish that you can leave just a bit raw/crudo in the center. For friends/family in Hawaii, I do not think tuna would be a good pairing for this. Instead try opah or one of the other local, white fishes. Halibut would be nice, as well.

Here’s the recipe for monkfish with 2 salsas (serves 4):

Ingredients:
1 kilo/2 pounds white fish that you can cut into four, 2 x 3 x 2 inch thick pieces
1 small green zucchini
2 cloves garlic
6 roma tomatoes
1 small shallot
1 lemon
1/2 of a handful of blanched, no skin almonds. This means they are the white-ish kind, without skin, and they are not roasted or salted. You can substitute Marcona almonds here, but if they are salted, you’ll want to omit or reduce the salt in the salsa. Always taste, taste, taste, before salting.
fresh thyme
fresh basil

Directions:
Start the tomato fondue first. Here’s how it goes:
1) Score the bottom of your tomatoes with a small “x”, remove just the top part of the stem and then put the whole tomatoes into boiling water for 1 minute. The object here is to get the skin just loose enough to peel away from the rest of the tomato. A traditional French tomato fondue has a silky mouth texture so you don’t want the skin. But, if you like the skin or you’re lazy, just skip this step.
**While you’re bringing your water up to a boil, clean your fish if your fishmonger has not done it for you. Then, put it in the refrigerator for later.
2) Throw the tomatoes in ice water for another 2 minutes and then peel away the skin. Cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out the seeds, so you have just the outer layer of the tomato without the fine skin or the seeds.
3) Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pan. Mince 1 clove garlic and the small shallot. If your shallot is big, cut it in half and mince only half of the shallot. Throw the garlic and shallot in the hot oil for 30 seconds to one minute.
4) Dice tomatoes. Throw diced tomatoes in the pan and stir up with garlic and shallots. Turn to low and let simmer until the liquid is almost gone and the tomatoes start to turn a deeper red. Add a pinch of salt and 1 sprig of fresh thyme leaves toward the end of the process. The taste should be sweet and it should be almost like a thin jam. Be sure to watch it so you don’t burn it. This should take no more than 20 or so minutes.
5) Also, while the fondue is cooking, make the salsa. Grate 1/2/-3/4 of the zucchini. Then, mince 1/2 of the other clove of garlic and put some salt on it to sweat it a bit.
6) To the zucchini, add the zest of your 1 lemon and thyme leaves from one sprig of thyme. Then, add the salted garlic. Mix. Add lemon juice to taste.
7) Heat up your pan our grill. While it is heating, make sure the fish is already out of the refrigerator. You should let it sit on the counter for 5 minutes or so before you put it on hot heat. As with most proteins, you don’t want it to seize up because it’s too cold when it hit the heat. That’s why people say put meat on the counter before grilling or searing.
8) Sear or grill your fish until slightly underdone. While fish is cooking, finish salsa. Mince the almonds. Chiffonade or mince fresh basil and add both to the zucchini mix. Add salt and adjust seasoning if necessary. This should be a lemony-crunchy-basil-thyme salsa. If you add the almonds too soon, they will get soggy. If you add the basil too soon, it will turn black. So, make sure those are the last ingredients you add.
9) To assemble: Put the a round of tomato fondue onto the middle of each plate. Then, top with the fish. Finally, top with 1-2 tablespoons of zucchini salsa. Drizzle very good extra virgin olive oil on top, if you have it. It’s going to kind of look like the Italian flag, with red, white and green layers, but it will be lovely.

The whole process should not take longer than 1 to 1.5 hours to prepare. Sorry, I don’t have pictures. I was a dunce and forgot to take them.

The second dish I introduced was a pintxo or tapa. It’s super simple. It’s a great appetizer to do at a bbq, as you can prepare everything ahead of time except for cooking the shrimp which can be done on a grill or in a hot pan in 2 minutes right before service.

It’s essentially shrimp, guacamole and grapefruit on a crostini. But, the key here is that you must use fresh prawns and you must use fresh avocados, since those are the stars of the dish. If you use store-bought guacamole, it probably won’t be the end of the world, but it’s neither going to look as nice, nor will it be as fresh, which is what you’re going for with this dish (unless you buy the very expense, made-daily guacamole at Whole Foods – it is delicious and fresh).

This recipe, with a few of my adjustments, is courtesy of Tasting Table, which is a great foodie blog. The idea here is to build on top of a crostini or piece of fresh baguette, whichever you prefer. It should be like 2 bites.

Ingredients:
Fresh large/jump shrimp with shells on – buy enough for 2 per person. do NOT get the cooked, frozen ones. they will be too soggy for this recipe.
1 ripe avocado – this will be enough for 8-10 shrimp
1 fresh baguette
dried chili flakes
1 ripe, red grapefruit – this will be enough for 8-10 shrimps
fresh cilantro
lime
olive oil for cooking shrimp

Directions:
1) Peel and clean the prawns. Set aside until ready to grill or sear.
2) Make guacamole: half and score the insides of both the avocado(s). Scoop out with a spoon into a bowl. Mince some cilantro, and add in some fresh lime juice and salt to taste. If you like some heat, I would mince some serrano pepper or use red chili flakes and add them in, as well. Also, if you like garlic, you could put a small amount in, but remember, you’re having fruit with this and I don’t really think garlic works here.
3) Supreme a grapefruit. The idea is to have lovely segments of grapefruit to put on top, that does not have the pith or any white stuff on it.
4) Shell some pistachios and coursely chop them.
5) Heat the grill or stove. While it is heating, cut your baguette into thin rounds. If you like your bread toasted, turn on the broiler at this point. If you’re grilling, you can simply throw the bread on the grill whiel you do the shrimp, which is the next step.
5) Throw shrimp on a hot, oiled bbq and flip after 30 seconds. If you’re grilling the shrimp, toss the shrimp in a bit of olive oil before they go on the grill. Or, if you’re doing stovetop, heat some olive oil in a pan and throw the shrimp in when the oil’s hot. Turn after 30 seconds. Cook maybe 20-30 seconds more and remove while still a bit crudo in the middle. Remember, it will continue to cook and you don’t want overdone or rubbery shrimp. If it’s really, really fresh, you can eat it crudo anyway. The cooking time will depend on your heat and the size of your shrimp, so you’ll just have to watch it. Right before the shrimp is done, sprinkle on some maldon sea salt and chili flakes.
6) Assembly: lay out toasted baguette pieces on a plate. Spread a teaspoon or so of guacamole on the bread, then top with 1 large prawn per toast. Then, put a grapefruit segment on top of each shrimp. If you like more salt, add just a few flakes of maldon sea salt on top of each grapefruit segment. I really like the combo of just a bit of salt with grapefruit. Finally, top with crushed pistachios. Serve.

Time: This shouldn’t take you more than 30-40 minutes to prepare.

Okay, off to meet friends to go to Sitges today and then to a meditation workshop at a Buddhist temple tomorrow. Some people think I need to meditate and/or do yoga. We’ll see how this hyper woman does in meditation – ha!

Buen Provecho!

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9 Responses to “Another few days at El Quim de la Boqueria”

  1. Diana August 12, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

    These two new dishes sound really nyami. Please send me some pics so as that I can post them at Quim’s FB wall.
    It’s Sunday already and I assure you that the dinner Rachel was talking about was great fun and the meditation session was….should I finsish the sentence Rachel?
    ; – )

  2. janet draman August 12, 2012 at 10:42 pm #

    I think that meditation is good and maybe a great thing for you to do! You need to just chill sometimes. Rein in those “ponies” sometimes!

  3. Denise Dunsing August 14, 2012 at 4:21 am #

    Hi Rachel,
    I’m Denise, Bev and Ian’s friend. I’ve been following you blog with interest, and as it turns out I’ll be going to Barcelona Sept. 27. Taking a 10 day cruise and then a friend and I want to stay in Barcelona for about a week and check out the area. She called me tonight to see what part of Barcelona I want to stay in. Of course I know nothing about the city so thought maybe I could pick your brain. We want to stay in a decent part of the city without spending alot of money. How many days do you really think we need to explore the city and what if any of the surrounding area do you suggest we check out. Sounds like you’re living your dream life. I envy you and admire you for doing this. Any info you could impart would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks
    Denise

    • rachel August 14, 2012 at 7:29 am #

      Hi Denise,
      I think you’ll love Barcelona. Unfortunately, I’ll be gone by the time you get here, otherwise I’d play tour guide for you a few days 😉

      A week should be sufficient to see most of the great sights and to eat lots of yummy food. If you read my blog posts over the last month, you can see lots of places in Barcelona that I visited with family that I think are “musts”- La Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, Picasso Museum, Montjuic (and the evening waterfall and light show at Placa Espanya), Montserrat (1 hour train ride from Barcelona and great hiking!), etc.

      Places to eat: El Quim de la Boqueria for breakfast or lunch; Bubo for desserts and tapas at lunch or dinner; Ciudad Condal is famous in the guidebooks for decent tapas; Osmosis (where I worked) is great, typical Catalan food that is more high end but not outrageously expensive (make a reservation for dinner, but you probably don’t need to for lunch); Forn de Sant Jaume has the best chocolate croissants – get the ones with the powdered sugar on top, not the ones with the chocolate on top; Alkimia if you really want to break the bank and have a fabulous 8 course meal, maybe one of the best of my life.

      Areas to stay without paying much money…well, that’s harder. Barcelona is an expensive town. I would suggest you get an airbnb account. It’s easy, go to airbnb.com and follow the directions. It’s essentially people who rent out rooms in their houses to travelers for way less than you can stay at any hotel – even crappy hotels. Many of my friends have had good luck with this, and I just booked 3 days at someone’s place through airbnb while I’m traveling. They have reviews of the owners, you can chat with the owners, and I think that’s a good way to go on a budget. Some places are VERY nice, so you’ll be getting a great deal to stay in those for 1/2 the price of a hotel.

      That said, the nice areas I would look to stay in near the center of the action are Rambla Catalunya (where I currently reside) and Gracia (La Sagrada Familia is in that barrio, but you’ll want to be near a metro station if you stay in that area as walking to the center of town from there can take 30-45 minutes, depending. Both of those areas are within a barrio called L’eixample. You can do a google search for barrios of Barcelona and come up with a map of the barrios. Another fun place to stay in is the Gothic quarter, which is the old part of the city. I love the area called El Born. Both those will be lots noisier than Gracia or Rambla Catalunya, but they are in the center of the action.

      Hope that helps! Feel free to email me with more questions, and have an awesome trip 🙂

      • Denise Dunsing August 14, 2012 at 6:04 pm #

        Rachel, Thank you so much for your quick response. I checked out airbnb.com and actually found a nice 2 bdrm apartment in the Gothic quarter for very reasonable. Do you think we should rent a car? Any tours that you would recommend? Any day trips out of town? Can’t thank you enough
        Denise

  4. rachel August 15, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    Hi Denise,

    No, I wouldn’t rent a car while you are staying and touring in Barcelona. Parking is limited within the city proper and it’s very expensive. Plus, the public transportation system is great. Well, a good way to see the city and understand the barrios and layout of the great sights you’ll be visiting. I would probably shell out the 24Euros or something like that and take the city bus tour. They’re the red buses you’ll see leaving from Placa Catalunya. With that pass, you’ll also get discounts to some sights. There are kiosks in Placa Catalunya so you can ask what all is involved. You can sit on top of the bus, which is open air, or inside if it’s too hot.

    Other than that, I haven’t been on any tours. I just go to places and usually make sure I get the audioguide, if they offer one e.g. Picasso museum, La Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo.

    Day trips: Montserrat is a must. It’s a famous monastery 1 hour train ride from Barcelona. It’s super easy to get to. Get the combined train and tram ticket. It will be at the first stop for Montserrat that you depart the train. Then, right there will be the tram. The views are spectacular, as well as the hiking, so wear comfy shoes and clothes. I also love Sitges. It’s a small coastal down on the Costa Brava about 1 hour from Barcelona. If you like jumping in the ocean, this is a way cleaner part of the Mediterranean than the Barcelona waters. If you are a lover of Salvador Dali, you can take a 2 hour train ride to Figueres where his museum/theatre is. The town itself is not great, but the museum is interesting, to say the least. I love the town of Cadaques, but it’s not fast to get to. You can either take the train to Figueres and then hop on a bus for another hour, or you can take the Sarfa bus directly from Barcelona. I think it takes 3 hours. It’s well worth the trip. It’s a darling fishing village and so different from Barcelona. You might want to consider staying there overnight, if you go.

    • Denise Dunsing August 15, 2012 at 6:47 pm #

      Rachel,
      Thank you so much for all of your suggestions. Thanks to you I think we have it all covered. I’ll let you know what we did and how we enjoyed it. Maybe I’ll see you again in Hawaii some time. I keep telling Busaba I’m going to barge in one cold winter day (in the N.W.) Enjoy the rest of your time in Spain.
      Denise

  5. ceggersdorf@comcast.net August 21, 2012 at 1:56 am #

    Hi Rachel,

    It is Christi and Matt from Tallahassee, Florida. I have enjoyed reading your blog so much and can not wait to use some of the recipes.

    I am so glad that you are back at el quim, what a great place and  I miss it so much. Anyway, there is a great deal  I would like to catch up on, but we

    do have a question. W e have some close friends that will be coming to Barcelona soon and wanted to know what your recommendation of a place to stay   might be? The hotel we stayed at was a bit too much and we want them to stay at a nice place, but maybe not so over the top. Obviously, centrally located and it is for Matt’s best friend and his sister who are coming to Barcelona to drop off his niece who is doing a semester of studying abroad.

    Anyway, thank you so much for turning us on to your blog it always helps me remember of our time in Barcelona and puts me a better mood. I miss the food so much! I would give anything for some iberian ham right about now. Uggh!

    Take care and have fun!!!

    Christi and Matt! PS- If you don’t know of anything even a friend who might know would be great.

    Sincerely, Christi Eggersdorf Sirmans

    • rachelogdie August 22, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

      Hi Christi! So great to hear from you. I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. It’s fun for me to write down my thoughts!

      As to your question, I have stayed at Le Meridien right on La Rambla. It’s pretty expensive, however. I had a good friend stay at Cram hotel, which is a 4 star hotel right near Rambla Catalunya and is a 10-12 minute walk to La Rambla. It’s in a nice, quiet neighborhood and my friends loved it. I just quickly looked it up on hotels.com and it says the price is around $150/night, which I think is super reasonable for a 4 star hotel in a good neighborhood in BCN. I also went to the Cram website and the prices on the site are way more expensive, so I would think Matt’s sister and best friend should look at one of the hotel congregation websites and book through there.

      I heard the Hotel HCC Regent is nice. It’s right in Rambla Cataluyna (where I stay), and is right in the heart of things. It’s also 4 stars. On hotels.com, it looks like the rooms around $150/night, as well. Finally, I heard the rooms at Eurostar Cristal Palace are nice. I also quickly checked prices and it looks like they start at around $160. This is also in a prime location and on a very nice street. By the way, I’m not advocating for hotels.com. It’s just an easy and quick site to navigate, but there are probably others out there that offer different prices. I think they price-match, though, but don’t quote me on it.

      Other than that, if they want to search airbnb.com, that’s always an option. Essentially, it’s people who have an extra room(s) in their place or a whole place to rent, and it’s usually way cheaper than a hotel. It depends on what type of privacy they’re looking for and their budget. Some airbnb places can be fabulous, but you have to create an account and be diligent about talking with the owners before you book as it’s about trust (you’re going in their house, you’re expecting it to be nice and that they don’t steal your stuff, etc.).

      Hope that helps!

      Yes, Iberico Ham… yummmmmm.

      Buen Provecho and Saludos!

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