Welcome to another installment of Fish Tuesday, featuring your host, Fishguy Market! Today I got an excellent looking Spanish Mackerel at the market. I was in Spain over the summer and remembered the Spanish put saffron in everything, plus I have a whole bunch of saffron that I bought over there, so I wanted to include saffron in the dish. I also know that mackerel is a particularly oily fish, so I needed something citrus-y to cut through the oil. I decided on a saffron and lemon aioli to be the vehicle to incorporate the citrus and saffron. I also needed a side to serve with the fish. I normally would serve rice, green beans, or carrots with the fish, but then I remembered the amuse that I ate at Mugaritz in San Sebastian, Spain. The dish from Mugaritz (www.mugaritz.com) was a new potato baked in edible clay until it looked like a rock, the dish was served with a small dish of garlic aioli. The potato was served atop hot rocks, so it was nearly indistinguishable from the rocks. Fortunately, I chose the potato and not a rock to bite into, so my teeth remain unbroken. Here is a picture of that dish. The potato is the top gray "rock."
Ingredients (serves 2)
2 mackerel filets
Saffron & Lemon Aioli
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten (be sure there is no white at all, otherwise this won't work as well)
3/4 cup olive oil (not virgin, virgin has too much olive flavor). You could probably use grapeseed oil too if you really wanted pure saffron and lemon flavor, but most people don't have grapeseed just laying around.
2 cloves garlic, ground into a paste
2 pinches saffron threads (I only used one, but two would be better)
2 tbsp very hot water in a bowl
juice from 1/4 of a lemon
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
pepper (preferably white, but black will be fine)
8 yukon gold potatoes, sliced into 1/4" thick discs
1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Lay potato slices out in a single layer on a baking sheet covered with a silicon baking mat or brushed with olive oil. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top of the potatoes. Salt and pepper the potatoes. Put in oven for 20-25 minutes, until the tops of the potato discs begin to brown.
3. Before starting to make aioli, put saffron threads in the bowl of very hot water. Stir, and let flavor infuse while you make the rest of the aioli. Water will turn a yellow color.
4. Put yolks into a small bowl (or food processor, if using) and put garlic paste into the olive oil.
5. Using an immersion blender fitted with the whisk attachment (a food processor or whisk could also work), pour half of the olive oil in a thin steady stream into the egg yolks while whisking or using the food processor. Once the mixture thickens, stop whisking.
6. Put lemon juice and white wine vinegar in the mixture. Begin whisking again. Pour the rest of the oil and the garlic into the mixture in a thin steady stream. Continue whisking until mixture is the consistency of mayonnaise.
7. Add saffron water into the aioli, making sure to scrape the threads into the mixture. Whisk briefly to incorporate and re-thicken. Salt and pepper the aioli to taste, stir. If you want, add more lemon juice until it tastes how you want.
8. Lighly oil the bottom of a saute pan and heat to medium heat.
9. Once pan is hot, add fish, skin side down. Cook for 5 minutes
10. Flip the fish to the flesh side for about 30 seconds to "kiss" that side with heat.
11. To assemble, make a ring of roasted potatoes in the center of the plate. Fill the center of the ring with the saffron and lemon aioli. Place the fish ontop of the potatoes and drizzle a slight amount of aioli ontop of the fish.
Since I'm not allowed to have any fun for the rest of the semester (see a few posts below), I did not drink wine with dinner. However, I imagine that a Riesling would do well to offset the tartness of the aioli. Since this dish has a few Spanish ingredients in it, you might want to try something like an Albarino (like this one from Cuvee Cellars www.cuveecellars.com). I had a beautiful glass of cava with the potato dish at Mugaritz, so that may be able to work with this dish, but the fish might overpower, though the bubbles would do well to cut through some of the oiliness. This is the one I had at Mugaritz (www.lorigancava.com). Here is a picture of the completed dish. If you try it or have any other thoughts, let me know!