Sunday, October 10, 2010
Cocina Vasca (Basque Cuisine)
Our gastronomic trip to San Sabastian would not have been complete without a Basque cookery class under the direction of celebrated local chef Alex Barcenilla in his restaurant kitchen. We reached the picture-perfect village of San Juan by crossing the inlet by boat. With our aprons on and eager to start we were introduced to our fresh catch of the day....baby squid, sardines, fish throats, and a huge hake.... the kitchen started buzzing! I must admit I jumped right on the dessert station -fried milk- which required some tricky measuring but the sardines had to be cleaned, the squid skinned and inked, and the fish had to be scaled and boned...my team mates were brave sous-chefs!
Kokotxas is the delicate flesh growing in the throat of hake or cod fish. It is considered a delicacy and Chef Alex was a master as he demonstrated the method of shaking the heavy cast iron skillet to combine the gelatin of the fish with the olive oil until it emulsified to resemble a light mayonnaise consistency.
The best part of cooking is eating! We enjoyed our gourmet lunch of Basque delicacies and local wine on the square overlooking the harbor filled with fishing boats...even with a few raindrops it just could not have been a more perfect setting!