Hi, I'm looking for a seafood main for a Mediterranean dinner party, as well as a couple starters and sides that complement it.
The vibe is going to be fairly formal, and I prefer subtle and seasonal flavours over bold ones.
a paella like dish with seafood only, ratatouille, green salad or sliced tomatoes with vinagrette and that is one colorful table.
Some of the menu items I've been considering have been:
Salmon baked with fennel
Prosciutto wrapped figs
Miniature spanakopita with preserved lemon hummus and tzatziki
I'm not sure how open-minded your guests are, but if it were me I like to make something that is sort of a combination of octopus salad and the well known Galician dish Polbo à Feira. Basically, buy the largest octopus arm you can find (fresh or frozen).
You can either put in a slow cooker for 4-5 hours, simmer it in water or seafood/vegetable stock for 45 mins, or seal it in a vacuum/sous vide bag and simmer at 190F for 3 hours.
If you want it to be more like a salad - slice arm into rounds then chop into rounds and chop into thirds or sixths depending on the size of the round, then toss with your best olive oil, minced garlic, medium dice red onion, chopped green or brown olives, chopped flat parsley, the leaves of two sprigs of thyme, and the juice of one or two lemons and its zest, enough to coat. Season with S/P to taste and let rest 30 mins to 1 hr in the fridge before serving.
If you want it to be served more like tapas - slice the octopus arm with your sharpest knife or even a good bread knife to about 1/8" thick rounds if it will hold. Place nicely on a bed of lemon slices or arugula, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt and Spanish pimentón or paprika.
Simple and fresh but still a bold dish to impress at the table.
I have a lovely octopus arm in my freezer. I never thought to use my slow cooker. Very good idea. Do you add any liquid? I was thinking a little white wine and a little lemon juice or chopped preserved lemons and garlic to drizzle over along with some olive oil.
YGC, the wine cork "just in case" made me laugh and I am going to toss one in...just in case.
Susan - yeah I think you want to add liquid to cover in the slow cooker. I don't actually own one but I have a dutch oven and would do it that way, and I've read some methods online that use an actual slow cooker.
Also - like the wine cork thing, there are all sorts of 'tips' out there for octopus about keeping the skin intact and tenderizing, etc etc. I think low and slow is probably the best option if you're worried about toughness but honestly if its frozen/previously frozen as it is likely to be in the USA, you will not have that problem. Actually a lot of chefs in Spain and Portugal say there is no disadvantage to freezing octopus and actually makes it easier to prepare.
Thanks Jan. I've eaten it in Greece where it was prepared by dipping in boiling water, boiling and then charred over fire. Then simply drizzled with Greek olive oil and lemon. One of my favorite meals of all time. I always freeze it to tenderize it. I think a slow cooker is a great way to go. I have 3 of them and use them all the time, but never for octopus.
I don't associate oysters with the Mediterranean. Oysters are better from colder waters like the north Atlantic or north Pacific.
Gougeres -- while delicious -- are definitely not Mediterranean. They are most closely associated with Burgundy and are commonly made with mountain cheeses like Gruyere or Emmentaler. Something like herbed olives, crostini, bruschetta would be a far more Mediterranean appetizer.
Your Guardian Chef is correct: salmon is not a Mediterranean fish. Sea bass, flounder, mackerel and John Dory would be more typical fish species.
Just to clarify - I'm not fussy if my dishes are authentically Mediterranean. Just looking for elegant, showstopper seafood dishes with Mediterranean flavours.
Other than a fish stew or paella, my idea of a showstopper fish dish for a dinner party would be a whole fish either roasted or baked.
The showstopper quality would be the freshness of the fish and its natural flavor rather than than sauce. The Japanese know this through and through.
I'd serve the whole fish very simply, garnished with some lemon wedges or slices. On the side, I'd offer a few sauces: like aioli, pistou, maybe gremolata or other herb based condiments.
I love this Mark Bittma recipe: http://cooking.nytimes...
The compote is very flavorful, so perhaps you could serve it as an accompaniment (and not as a main).
And this makes a great appetizer and a beautiful presentation: https://food52.com/recipes...
I served it at a dinner party and it was the dish I received the most compliments on (and it was the easiest to prepare!).