Thursday, August 1, 2013

Romesco Sauce with Charred Onions: an Authentic Catalonian Recipe

One of the things I love most about travel is - surprise! - eating, drinking, and tasting a variety of new dishes and flavors. I am especially happy when I get the opportunity to chat with chefs and restaurant owners and, if possible, come away with an authentic recipe or two, as I did with Chef Mike's gnocchi in pumpkin cream in Vienna. 

This recipe for Romesco sauce comes courtesy of Hugo, co-owner of the adorable Gastromaquia in Madrid.


Hugo is incredibly passionate and enthusiastic about food, and he took great pains to explain and discuss every item on the menu with us. While we did not actually have Romesco sauce that evening, the topic came up because I guessed (correctly) that my gazpacho had been thickened with bread, in the same way that bread is used in Romesco. He graciously offered to share his family's recipe for the sauce.

I say recipe, but really what he shared was a method and ingredients rather than exact measurements. His family comes from Tarragona in the south of Catalonia, and he emphasized to me that everyone has a different variation on this classic Spanish sauce, and his is by no means the definitive version; on the contrary, there is no definitive version.

Here is what Hugo told me: "First you roast the tomatoes and garlic. Then you fry raw Marcona almonds in olive oil. Put the almonds in while the oil is still cold and heat it slowly. When the almonds are almost fried, put the bread in and fry. Add the tomatoes and pepper paste and garlic. Then add sherry vinegar. Blend it together and salt to taste."

I had to make a couple of substitutions out of necessity, and while it was still delicious, I have no doubt it would  have been even more so had I been able to find all of the ingredients Hugo specified.

Here are the amounts and method I used: I roasted one head of garlic until soft. I fried 1/3 cup raw almonds (I could not find raw Marcona) in 3 tablespoons olive oil as Hugo specified. I then added a 1-inch-thick slice of torn-up white bread and fried until the bread absorbed the oil. To this I added 14 oz. of fire roasted tomatoes, the garlic, 1 large chopped roasted red pepper (I couldn't find the pepper paste) and a teaspoon of sherry vinegar. I pureed this with an immersion blender and added salt to taste. And that is all. Simple and beautiful.

It is traditional, he told me, to dip charred onions into the sauce, and so I grilled some spring onions to go with my Romesco. I also enjoyed this on grilled flank steak and with some broccolini. Really, though, it's hard to think of any vegetable or protein that wouldn't work with this nutty, tangy sauce.

Gracias, Hugo!







10 comments:

  1. So great. I'm intrigued by the sherry vin note. You are so smart in your travels to engage these chefs and get their secrets! I always feel so intimidated to do that but this ends NOW! Beautiful photos as per usual! XXOO.

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    1. Thanks! It's always so great to get recipes from chefs ...

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  2. Wow. You are the truly savvy traveler, chatting up the chefs to get the low down on how to make the dishes. This sounds great! I hope you had a wonderful time - you look fab!

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    1. Thanks, though the light is making my hair look sort of green??

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  3. Nutty and tangy...I love the flavours. This is definitely a keeper.

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  4. Gorgeous, Trix! I only learned about this sauce a couple years ago and have yet to sample it...

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    1. Well now you have no excuse to not try it!! xxx

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  5. I admire you ability to coax recipes out of restauranteurs... How do you do it? I'm much too reserved to even try...

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    1. If I, an introvert, can do it - so can you! Just let the wine do the talking, that's what I do ...

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