Cooking Class: Tap into tapas

Follow the trend of the Nuevo Latino cuisine and serve some Spanish appetizers.

June 20, 2012 13:44
Almond Salad

Almond Salad. (photo credit: Boaz Lavi)


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The Nuevo Latino cuisine, created in the US, is quickly becoming popular all over the world. The cuisine is characterized by strong aromas and flavors, colorful dishes and a combination of cooking techniques – a tribute to both the indigenous Americans and the Spanish conquerors.

The Casa Nova Restaurant in Jaffa is housed in a building that was built by the Franciscan Order in the 17th century.

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It later was given to the Vatican, which in turn gave it to the Spanish crown. It is located across from the Jaffa port and was used as a hostel for the Crusaders as they arrived. Based on the Kurkar caves, the building has many ornate arches and art reliefs that tell its history over the years.

Inspired by the history of the place, chef and owner Nir Dagan, who received his culinary education in Florida and South America, decided to base his menu on Spanish cuisine and focus mainly on fresh fish brought into the Jaffa port every morning and fresh produce and meats from the nearby market.

The Nuevo Latino cuisine is perfect for the Israeli summer. Once you learn the secrets of the seasoning, you can improvise with chicken or different types of fish.


Ceviche, typically a South American dish, became an international food and can be found in almost all the trendy restaurants. Each chef gives it his or her own twist, but the main idea is fresh fish that is marinated for a very short time in citrus juice and seasoned with fresh herbs, onions and coarse salt.


The version in this recipe is marinated in a Spanish cocktail called sangrita. The amount for the sangrita is larger than required for the recipe. Enjoy it as a refreshing non-alcoholic cocktail.

For the sangrita:
✔ 1 cup apple juice
✔ 1 cup pomegranate juice
✔ 1 small onion
✔ 50 ml. lime juice
✔ 1⁄2 hot chili pepper
✔ 1 Tbsp. chipotle puree (dried jalapeno pepper available at some supermarkets and delicatessens)
✔ Pinch salt Mix in a blender until smooth.

For the ceviche:
✔ 200 gr. clean and boned fillet of fresh fish cut into small cubes
✔ 1⁄4 red onion, thinly sliced
✔ 2 Tbsp. chopped coriander
✔ 25 ml. lime juice
✔ 50 ml. sangrita
✔ Salt and pepper

Mix all the ingredients. Marinate for 2 minutes and serve in cocktail glasses or small bowls.

Makes about 30

These patties are really a street food and sold by women all over South America.

The acaraje are usually stuffed with seafood. For this recipe we used surimi, which is a kosher alternative to shrimp and is available in supermarkets.

For the patties:
✔ 500 gr. black-eyed peas soaked in water overnight
✔ 1 small red onion, chopped
✔ 1 hot chili pepper, chopped
✔1 tsp. salt
✔ 2 tsp. black pepper
✔ Oil for deep frying

For the stuffing:
✔ 250 gr. surimi or cooked white fish, chopped
✔ 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
✔ 2 tsp. mustard
✔ 2 Tbsp. green onion, chopped

Heat oven to 60º. Strain the beans and place in a food processor together with onion, pepper and seasoning. Blend until pureed.

Heat oil in a deep pot and, using your hands, make small 2-cm. patties. Slide patties into the hot oil very carefully. Fry until golden, about 2 minutes. Remove from oil and place on paper towel. Sprinkle with a little salt and keep in the oven. Repeat until all the bean mixture is finished. Keep prepared pancakes in the warm oven until the ready to stuff.

To prepare filling:
Mix all the ingredients and season to taste.

Using a sharp knife, make a slit in the patties and fill with surimi mix.

Makes 6-8

Did you ever try eating raw zucchini? Try this salad – you’ll be surprised.

✔ 3 zucchinis, sliced into thin strips (use a peeler)
✔ 1 kohlrabi, peeled and sliced into thin strips (use a peeler)
✔ 1 red + 1 yellow pepper, sliced into thin strips
✔ 1⁄2 red onion, thinly sliced
✔ 6 green onions, chopped
✔ 1 red chili pepper, chopped
✔ 1⁄2 cup roasted almonds with skin
✔ 1⁄2 cup olive oil
✔ 1 tsp. ground roasted fennel seeds
✔ 11⁄2 tsp. sugar
✔ Salt and pepper

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Makes 15-20

The combination of the sharpness of the cheese and the sweetness of the corn makes these the perfect appetizer.

✔ 6 cups corn kernels (frozen or fresh)
✔ 1 Tbsp. sugar
✔ 1⁄2 cup corn flour
✔ 1 tsp. salt
✔ Oil for frying
✔ 1 chili, chopped
✔ 1 Tbsp. oil
✔ 300 gr. sharp yellow cheese, such as Kashkaval or Parmesan, coarsely grated
✔ Salt and pepper

Blend corn to a coarse mash. Add sugar, corn flour and salt. Mix well.

Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan. Pour 1 large spoon of the corn mixture into the pan and fry on both sides until golden.

Keep warm.

Steam the chili in a skillet with 1 Tbsp. oil for 2 minutes. Place in a bowl.

Add cheese, salt and pepper and mix well. Sprinkle the cheese mixture on the pancakes and place for a few minutes in a heated oven until cheese melts. Serve immediately.


This is a typical Spanish dish of seared and pickled fish.

✔ 1 kg. mullet fillet
✔ 3 cloves garlic, minced
✔ 1 red pepper, sliced into thin strips
✔ 1 green pepper, sliced into thin strips
✔ 2 bay leaves
✔ 1 cup wine vinegar
✔ 1 Tbsp. sugar
✔ 1⁄2 cup water
✔ 1 Tbsp. roasted cumin seeds

To serve:
✔ Sour cream
✔ Parsley, chopped Cut fish into 3-cm. pieces. Place fish on a lined baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle a little olive oil and bake in a preheated 200º oven for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

When cooled, move the fish into a deep dish that can hold the fish in one layer.

To prepare the marinade:
Heat a little oil in a skillet, add onion, garlic, peppers, cumin seeds and bay leaves and steam for 3 minutes. Add vinegar, sugar and water and bring to boil. Cook for 2 minutes or until onions turn transparent. Pour the marinade over the fish and cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 24 hours.

Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Serve with sour cream and chopped parsley.

The recipes and photos are courtesy of Casa Nova restaurant, 48 Ratzif Haalya Hashnia Jaffa port, (03) 5413636.

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