he 2016 summer season is as good as here. The beautiful autumn and winter months on Ibiza have passed, and with them many long lazy lunches in the campo with friends and hearty dinners by the fire places inside traditional Ibiza fincas. These meals more often than not complimented by animated story telling amongst close friends who don’t have time to relax and spend time together in the hedonistic Mediterranean summer months.
With each new season obviously comes new produce.
Summer salads are replaced by rich stews while simple fish dishes substituted by pies and roasts. Winter comfort food. Of course now this situation reverses!
For this summer season, 2016, Ibiza Style and I will collaborate on an informative monthly article about ingredients from the island of Ibiza. What grows here, local farmers and their best produce and more importantly, what you can make with it! Each month, I’ll be a sourcing a locally grown, caught or reared ingredient and incorporating it into a dish, which we will share with you.
For my first exploration I decided it would be nice to go fishing with some friends. Take some pictures of the beautiful rugged coastline of the island and try to catch something to create a recipe. The local waters here are abundant with seafood and many friends along with myself enjoy fishing. Sometimes with rods and some with spear guns. On this particular occasion seasoned spear fishermen-friends, Tom and Marcos, were my hosts.
Contrary to popular belief this method of fishing is legal as long as you free dive and have a license of course. In fact it is one of the most sustainable methods of fishing as you are able to individually select which fish to catch. Not only that, the general approach is one centered by a deep appreciation of the creatures and the sea they live in. Spear fishermen follow the basic rule that you catch only what you eat whilst ensuring that the fish that you do eat fall within the prescribed and recommended sizes and weights.
Tom, Marcos, myself and my step son Jake made it onto the boat with an open mind, an open heart and an empty catch bag – with hope of a good haul…. Through increase in demand for fish, and over fishing of the Mediterranean, large fish are harder to find. However there are still many fish if you know where to look. Spear fishing is unique in the fact that in order to locate and catch it’s necessary to dive and find underwater rock formations and caves where fish like to stay. These places are thankfully impossible to penetrate by commercial fishing methods.
On our day out we were lucky enough to catch some Sargo, also known as White Sea Bream. Sargo is perhaps one of the most common fish species in the Ibicencan seas and is present all year round. They have a firm white flesh and are ideal for pan-frying, ceviche or indeed sashimi. They are fished commercially in the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and also parts of the Indian Ocean but are only sold and marketed locally as the flesh is only good to eat when very fresh. For that reason you may not find them in the local fish market, although ordering is always an option. A substitute fish for this particular recipe could be Cod, Grey Mullet or Hake.
I decided to make a nice pan-fried Sargo fillet with a Lentil and Beetroot Fattoush salad. Recipe is below and it’s the perfect way to bring in the summer and say goodbye to winter. I hope you enjoy it!
Lentil and Beetroot Fattoush salad, pan-fried White Sea Bream fillet.
Ingredients. Serves 4
- 4 x White fish fillets (150g each, clean)
- Get the fishmonger to fillet and de-bone them but leave the skin on.
- 2 x pitta breads
- 200g x Puy lentils (soak them overnight)
- ½ x fennel bulb, sliced thinly
- 2 x small carrots, peeled, sliced into ribbon with a peeler
- 1 x small red onion, peeled, sliced into thin rings
- 2 x celery sticks, de-veined, cut into matchsticks
- 1 x handful fresh mint leaves, torn into pieces
- 1 x handful flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- 3x medium beetroots
- 3 x tbspn extra virgin olive oil
- 1 x tbspn red wine vinegar (Forum Cabernet Sauvignon)
- Sea salt, ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 220C / Gas mark 7
- Wash the beetroots and place in a small baking dish.
- Rub in olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
- Cover in foil, bake for approx. 40 minutes or until they are tender: stick a fork into them to check.
- At the same time use the hot oven to heat the pitta breads until they are crispy and crack easily. Remove from the oven, roughly break them into pieces and set aside to cool.
- Remove the beetroots when cooked, set aside to cool. Peel them by rubbing the skins away from the body and then cut them into wedges. During this cooking time, prepare all the other vegetable ingredients.
- Place the soaked lentils in a saucepan and cover with water, bring to the boil, remove them from heat immediately, strain.
- Add some olive oil to a non-stick frying pan on medium heat. Season the fish fillets, place skin side down in the pan. Cook them for around 5 minutes until you see the flesh turning white on the exposed side.
- Combine the lentils, onion, carrot, celery, mint, parsley, fennel, pitta, olive oil, vinegar, season with salt and pepper. Mix well.
- To serve, spoon the lentil fattoush on to a plate, place the beetroot wedges around and over the salad then place the fish fillet, skin side up on top. Sprinkle with sumac and drizzle olive oil to finish.