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Andalusian recipes, travel, and design

Tapeo Sevillano (Tapas Sevilla-style) and Coquinas de Huelva

I was in Sevilla in late June-early July, and in time to enjoy the snail season, amongst other delights for the palate. Snails are commonly eaten in Spain, as caracoles (little snails) and cabrillas (a large, escargot size). The mollusk is in season from the beginning of Spring to roughly late-July, mid-August, depending on origin. Lately, the season starts as early as March, with these snails coming from Morocco. The harvest of the local snail typically starts in April-May.
Caracoles are typically served in small transparent glasses, where one can see the snails and the clear, spicy broth through the glass. When eating caracoles, Spaniards tend to make a lot of noise trying to suck out the little critters.
Cabrillas (pictured below) on the other hand are made in a thicker sauce, usually almond or tomato-based. It’s a delicious treat to dip some bread into the sauce and enjoy this in addition to the snails.
There are, of course, hundreds, if not thousands, of varieties of tapas. In fact, one can make a tapa out of any dish. The origin of the tapa is obscured in legends and stories. But the general consensus is that bartenders starting placing a small plate on top of a glass of wine or beer or even a coffee to cover the contents and protect them from flies falling in, while the customers chatted between sips. In Sevilla, I’ve always heard that bartenders in coffee houses would send over a coffee or drink to the customers of the barber shops with a cover to protect the beverage en route across the street. Whatever the history, little by little, the tapa has evolved into an entire cuisine, which is quite sophisticated and a delectable way to experience the rich flavours of Spain.Spaniards like to have a few tapas and a cold beer, preferably a Cruzcampo, or a glass wine before lunch, usually eaten at home during the approximately two hour mid-day break from work. Tapas are also enjoyed in the evening, and times vary by region. In the south, where we eat the latest, one can usually find a tapa bar open from about 8pm onwards until 1am or later, if it’s summer and the evening is warm.

Another delicacy, which was in season during my visit, is coquinas de Huelva. Coquinas are a small, elongated clam found on the beaches of the coast of Huelva. My mother tells me many stories of how as a child, growing up there, she and her cousins would go “fishing” for coquinas during the summer. They are very easy to make and as addictive as eating pipas, or sunflower seeds (another typical Andalusian pastime)!
Coquinas de Huelva
Ingredients
  • fresh coquinas, about 1 wine glass per person (about 50 g per person), washed
  • olive oil
  • parsley to taste, finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • sea salt
Process
In a skillet, pour about 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil, and heat up. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and the coquinas. Cook, moving occasionally, until the clams open.
Once all the clams are open, add the white wine and the parsley. Cook 1 minute or so and add salt to taste, if necessary. Remove from stove and serve immediately. Enjoy!
*Instead of coquinas (pictured), another variety of clams can be used. 

Welcome with Fideua

Wow! London is so inviting when the sun shines and it’s warm out. I went out for a walk to take advantage of this rarity, in a city, which is typically grey and wet. And on the walk, I made the decision to create this blog to share my experiences, discoveries and photographs of my travels and to have a place to compile recipes, which I find in my search and passion for new foods and challenges.
Gorgeous sunshine during my walk today.


I am half-Spanish, half-American and grew up in the south of Spain. I’ve travelled around the world since the prime age of 3 months…and hope to never stop discovering new places and revisiting old ones! 

Now, I live in London with my husband, and we moved here about 6 months ago. Adjusting to the weather has been a challenge, although we were relocated from Germany, which does not necessarily have 360 days under the sun, as Spain proclaims. But London has a lot to offer otherwise and it’s an amazing place to explore.

Yet, every once in a while, there is a need to get away and soak up some Vitamin D au naturel, in Spain for example.


During my recent visit to Sevilla, not only did I procure a healthy tan, but also enjoyed a number of my favourite dishes. One of them is a typical dish from Valencia, called Fideua, which my aunt made for me.

Valencia is the region of Spain, south of Catalonia, on the Mediterranean coast. It’s famous for producing Valencia oranges, Marcona almonds, rice, and has an extensive repertoire of seafood dishes; one of the most famous is the paella.

The Fideua is similar to the paella, but is made with noodles instead of rice.


Fideua de Gandia, adapted from Evarist Miralles, Best Chef Spain 2011. 

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 400 g of Fideua noodles (number 3 in Spain) 
  • 250 g of monkfish, clean and cut up in chunks
  • 12 large shrimp, with skin and heads
  • 1 teaspoon of pimenton (or paprika)
  • 1 calamar or sepia (squid), cleaned and cut up in slices and pieces
  • 2-3 large spoonfuls of tomato sauce with chunks or homemade tomato sauce
  • “majada de ajo”: 2-3 cloves of garlic and parsley, crushed with a mortar and pestle
  • 1 litre of fish broth*
  • 1/2 cup of white cooking wine
  • sea salt to taste
Fish broth: in a pot, bring to boil and simmer, the following ingredients: 2-2.5 litres of water, one whole fish (scaled and clean), one large onion, 2 carrots (cut into large pieces), and 2 celery sticks. Cook for about 30 minutes, and leave to rest for about 20 minutes, so the flavours integrate. 

Process
In a large skillet or paella pan (for 6 persons), heat the olive oil, enough to cover about half of the bottom of the pan. Once the olive oil is warm, add a few pinches of sea salt and stir. Add the shrimp and saute, enough for the shrimp to turn pink. Remove the shrimp from the pan. 

In the same oil, saute the monkfish and remove from pan. Again in the same oil, saute the calamar/sepia. Add the pimenton to the calamar, frying just a bit and moving both the calamar and pimenton together. Do not over-fry the pimenton, or it will turn sour. Add the tomato sauce and stir well. Then add a few spoonfuls of the majada and 1/2 cup of white wine. Cook for 1-2 minutes. 

Add the fideua noodles, stir and cook about 1 minute. Add the fish broth (generally 1.5 times of broth per unit of noodles). The broth should be thin and clear, for a better fideua. Cook 5-7 minutes. 

Place the monkfish and shrimp on top of the noodles and cook an additional 4 minutes, or until the pasta is “al dente”. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

And to really bring out the flavours of the seafood in this dish, we generally pair it with a chilled Albariño, the Spanish white wine from Galicia, in northeastern Spain. Buen provecho!


Note: In the version pictured, as I didn’t have monkfish or calamar at home, I used a small whiting and clams instead. I used the fish head and the clams to make the broth, removing the clams as they opened, to not overcook. I sauteed the whiting, in large chunks, just as the recipes says to do with the monkfish. Then added the fish, with the clams, at the same time as the shrimp. 

As you can see, you can substitute a variety of seafood, depending on your taste and what you may have available in your kitchen. I tend to do that a lot, so I don’t have to go out shopping at the last minute. 😉