I remember the first time I sat on a terrace in Valencia and saw that the word “ajoaceite” was repeated in the letter. Surprised by this, I asked what it was and the answer was concise: “a very typical Valencian sauce that is made by crushing garlic and oil”. Ah, how the alioli? I asked naively. It’s exactly that, I didn’t know you spoke Valencian, he replied. And, between you and me, I don’t even speak Valencian dad; but alioli it is a world sauce. That’s when I found out that it is not one word, but that there are three: “all i was”, That is, garlic and oil.
After this short linguistic introduction, you will already know what any dish that is preceded by “all i“, true? This is the case with today’s recipe: garlic and pepper. Garlic and… paprika! (red pepper in Valencian). They are the two main and fundamental ingredients of a pure Valencian dish that has its origin in the Albufera Natural Park. It is here that this basic preparation became popular to flavor the countless eels that lived there (although using garlic and paprika to season any fish is a common custom on the Mediterranean coast).
As has already been said, the idea of this dish spread with eel, but nowadays there are many fish that are made in this way. At the end of the day, it was taken with that because it was what was abundant, but the fishermen, after fishing, also made this preparation with monkfish or ray, very typical of the area. At first it only had a garlic and paprika rehash along with the fish in question; but in many areas of Valencia they add potatoes and a mash of toasted bread and almonds to block the stew; in addition to giving it a really good flavor. When it is prepared in this way it is known as “suc de (name of the fish in question)”.
It is a very quick and easy to make dish whose greatest difficulty lies in taking the necessary care and skill to avoid burning the garlic or the paprika, so you don’t have to neglect cooking for a minute so as not to upset the result. It involves frying some garlic in oil, adding paprika to taste and, when it is cooked, click the potato and sprinkle with water. Add the fish, cover and cook just enough for the sauce to cook and bind. When he got eel, a very tough fish, he had to cook for a long time; but, nevertheless, the preparation with salmon speeds up the process and it is enough to incorporate it at the end with the fire off.
If the preparation is special -for its simplicity-, the way of eating it will not disappoint anyone. You already know that it was a very typical fishermen dish, well, despite having a lot of sauce; it is said that it should be eaten without a spoon. Dipping good pieces of bread and drinking a good wine or not, the fury of the Albufera will fall on you.
Easier than the mechanism of a toothpick.
- 1 whole head of garlic (60 g approximately)
- 1 tablespoon full of paprika
- 2 cayenne chillies
- 2 medium potatoes
- 400 ml of water
- 30 loaf bread
- 15 g of almonds
- A handful of parsley
- 250 g clean salmon without bones or skin
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt to taste
Crush the garlic in a mortar with the help of a pinch of salt so that they do not fly away.
Add them to a saucepan with a drizzle of oil and turn the heat to low. When it has a golden color, but not burned, turn off the heat and add the paprika and cayenne.
On the refrito itself, and still with the fire off or at a minimum, click the potato and sauté everything well. Sprinkle with the water, raise the heat and, when it reaches a boil, cook for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast the loaf of bread well and mash together with the almonds and parsley. Add it to the stew when it has finished cooking and integrate everything well with enveloping movements (without a spoon to avoid breaking the potato).
With the heat off, add the salmon and cover until ready to serve. Like Arguiñano, finish with a few sprigs of parsley.
If you make this recipe, share the result on your social networks with the hashtag #RecetasComidista. And if it goes wrong, complain to the Chef’s Ombudsman by sending an email to [email protected]
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.