If there is a fish that at this time acquires a special role in the wealthiest Spanish tables, that is the sea bream . Something that also makes all the sense in the world, since the season of also known as aligote or painterly starts in November and runs until March.
It is one of those juicy and very enjoyable proposals with which you always hit the mark, regardless of whether you prepare it a la Madrid, a la San Sebastian or a la Bilbao . And who better than the chef David García , who knows the coast of Euskadi like the back of his hand and who has been giving many joys in the capital for a few years now, to tell us all the secrets of this fish so coveted at this time.
According to the Bilbao chef, “the most important thing when we want to prepare a sea bream is to get the technique we apply right so that we get the maximum yield from the fish “. It may seem obvious but it is not because it turns out that the most common is that the seasoned cookers are about to turn on the oven as if there were no tomorrow when their thing is to carry out a previous step which is the one that is going to mark the difference.
A matter of time “It is a very delicate fish, if you put it in a oven at 180 ºC it is easy for you to load it ”, says the one who currently defends its Michelin star in Corral de la Morería and that at the time, in just one year of life, won the same award for the now-defunct Álbora. To which he then adds: “If you want to eat it perfect, you have to dedicate the necessary time”.
When the chef comments on this, it is seen that he says it with knowledge of the facts: “It is a fish with a very particular flavor thanks to that so fine and elegant fat , but as soon as a little point is passed, it spoils ”. That is why what we recommend is not to cook it exclusively in the oven to 180 ºC, because that way it is easy for you to miss it. “I prefer to mark it first in a pan and then put it in the oven at 95 ºC ”, García sentence.
From here is when the good starts, since you have to be very clever to do this at home and achieve glory. So, before continuing, it is convenient to warn the reader that if what you want are guarantees, it is best to reserve at one of the great temples recommended by the talented Basque chef: “They prepare it very well in Zarate, Jauregibarria and Hondartzape ”. Yes, obviously, it sweeps home.
And now is when we have to focus because, after 5 minutes with our sea bream in the oven, what we have to do is “take it out to water it with the fry before putting it back in the oven, to then take out the juice that the fish expels, which has been mixed with the refrito, to mix it and heat it again in the pan ”. This operation, similar to the one carried out by Martín Berasategui to make that mythical “turbot at three turns” , is repeated between 4 and 6 times until everything is well tied.
By the way, he also tells us that “his thing is to put the salt half an hour before passing it through the pan and place it first on the side of the skin”. And if you have any doubts about whether or not to remove the thorn when serving it, you should know that it is best to leave it with the thorn attached to the meat, since “it works as a shield, its mission is to protect the meat from the heat when the sea bream is in the oven and, in addition, it adds its own liquids to the meat, which is much juicier ”.
Between glazes the game is on The other great aspect to take into account when preparing the recipe for baked sea bream David García is the rehash. An elaboration that to prioiri may seem very simple but that gets complicated as we increase those changes that we talked about above.
The objective is to raise the temperature to sea bream based on these “refried glazes” , as David García himself defines them, a highly advisable technique because, in addition, “it is not very aggressive”.
Regarding the ingredients, let’s go for the traditional: “There are people who put bell pepper, but I stick to the classic recipe: oil, garlic , cayenne, vinegar or lemon and a little fresh parsley , which we will add in the last glaze ”.
How to identify if the sea bream is fresh Once the recipe is clear, the following The next step will be to know whether what we are seeing at the market stall or at the fishmonger is at its best or if it is better to try your luck at another time.
In this sense, the same thing happens to sea bream as it does to most fish. When we ask David García about what we must take into account to identify a good sea bream, he points out that it is vital to have seen a lot of fish. And he adds: “ the eyes, the gills and the color of the skin are indexes, but if you don’t have a lot of callus, it is best to leave it to the fishmonger, who will also give it to you. He is going to de-scaling with love and leaves it open for you. ”
It didn’t take long to see that there are very friendly and willing professionals when we approach the La Gaviota fish shop, where we put everything into practice what the chef has told us. And once we confirm that the pupil is black, the gills are very red and the skin is shiny, we come to the most painful part of the experience.
How much is the bream this Christmas? If you thought that this year you were going to Get rid of having to scratch your pocket to enjoy a good sea bream, I’m sorry to tell you that you were very wrong. Both the chef from Corral de la Morería and our friends from La Gaviota confirm that “now on these dates is around 70 $ when the rest of the year is usually at 35 $ or 40 $ ”.
Both interviewees also agree that“ the 95% of the sea bream that enters the markets today comes de Tarifa ”, although the chef from Bilbao clarifies:“ Yes it is true that, little by little, is captured again in the Cantabrian Sea , just a few miles of the Basque Country ”.
Regarding the current price of this originally humble product , García, who plans to include it in the next tasting menu of the tablao flamenco con estrella Michelin goes further: “Nowadays sea bream is at the level of caviar, truffle or a great ham , it is a luxury item that many cannot afford at Christmas.”
And for this same reason we have asked you, before saying goodbye, to provide us with a cheaper option : “Hake is a great alternative , it is very tasty, its price does not usually skyrocket because there is plenty and you can prepare it in batter or Bilbao-style. ”
More Christmas recipes In Directo al Paladar we love these holidays and we have thousands of recipes for you to be sure in your Christmas meals.
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Directly to the Paladar | The 215 best Christmas recipes and 16 special menus to get it right