A taste of Tarifa

In Roman times, the fish-salting industry flourished in Barbate, and today it is still well-known for its fresh catch.

Tarifa offers white sandy beaches and fun gravity-defying activites (photo credit: AYA MASSIAS)
Tarifa offers white sandy beaches and fun gravity-defying activites
(photo credit: AYA MASSIAS)
On a recent visit to the Andalusian town of Barbate, along the coast of Cadiz, my friend Jose took me to the local market to see fish that had just been brought in by the fishing boats.
Among the fish arrayed in the boats, I spotted one of my favorites, the grouper, known as locus in Israel. It was probably the most popular dish we had at the Taverna Restaurant in Jerusalem when we ran it in the early 2000s.
Barbate, whose population is a mere 20,000, is located 40 km. north of Tarifa (famous for its strong winds) on the Costa de la Luz, the Coast of Light. In Roman times, the fish-salting industry flourished in Barbate, and today it is still well-known for its fresh catch.
Tarifa is one of the most popular destinations for wind sports such as surfing, and for the white sand of its Atlantic beaches. Typical of Tarifa is the corvine fish.
The following recipe for corvina encebollada (corvina with onion; mussar in Hebrew) dates back to the days when the Moors lived along the Costa de la Luz.
This week we will be making two fish dishes. The second is poached grouper in a curry and coconut milk sauce (we suggest serving it with white rice, pappadums and okra).
This week’s dessert is a Spanish favourite, Arroz con Leche (rice pudding), made with long grain rice, whole milk, condensed milk or sugar, evaporated milk, cinnamon and lemon peel. Jose’s grandmother makes the perfect Arroz con Leche (rice pudding), using just the right blend of cinnamon, sugar, vanilla, milk and silky Spanish rice. He always makes sure there is some in the fridge whenever I visit him. ■
The writer is a trained chef, former owner of restaurants in New York and Jerusalem and runs Yaya Food & Travel Ltd (gourmet kosher Jewish heritage and culinary tours in Spain, Portugal, Provence, Gibraltar, Sicily and Morocco). www.jewishheritagetourseurope.com
Serves 4
■ 4 fresh grouper steaks (200 gr. each)
■ 1 cup coconut milk
■ ½ cup cream
■ ½ cup dry white wine
■ 250 gr. cooked okra
■ 2 Tbsp. curry powder
■ ½ cup fresh coriander, chopped
■ Salt and pepper to taste
Place a medium-sized pot on the heat and pour in the coconut milk, cream, white wine, curry powder and half of the chopped coriander.
Boil for 7 minutes, until the sauce becomes thick. Put the grouper steaks in the sauce, making sure it covers them so that you are really poaching them. They will need around 15 minutes to be fully cooked. Be careful not to overcook.
Once the grouper is ready, add the okra to the sauce and leave for 5 minutes. Serve with white rice, naan bread and pappadums.
Serves 6
■ 500 gr. corvina (mussar), cut into 2.5-cm. cubes)
■ 2 large onions, thinly sliced
■ 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
■ 1 cup dry white wine
■ ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
■ 2 Tbsp. turmeric
■ 2 bay leaves
■ 1 cup water
■ Salt and pepper to taste
■ Olive oil and parsley for garnish
Place a large pan over the fire and pour in the olive oil. When hot, add the pieces of fish and leave for approximately 7 minutes until brownish. Then put them on a plate. In the same pan, put onion, garlic and bay leaves and gently move around with a wooden spoon.
Once the mixture is nicely browned, add the fish, turmeric, white wine and water and salt and pepper to taste. Let cook for 30 minutes.
Serve with white rice or boiled baby potatoes, and just before serving drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over the top as well as some chopped fresh parsley.
Serves 5
■ 1 cup long-grain rice
■ 1 vanilla pod
■ 1 slice lemon rind (or orange rind)
■ 1 stick cinnamon
■ 1 tsp ground cinnamon
■ 1 pinch salt
■ ½ liter whole milk
■ ½ liter condensed milk
■ ¼ cup sugar
Rinse the rice in cold water and put into a medium-sized pot over medium heat, barely covering the rice with water. Add the cinnamon stick and lemon rind and stir until all the water has evaporated. Then add the two types of milk, ½ cup at a time, stirring each time until it has been absorbed. Add the sugar, then slice the vanilla pod in half, and with a knife scrape out all the vanilla and stir into the milk.
When the mixture looks creamy and the rice is soft, turn off the heat, add a pinch of salt and sprinkle with a little cinnamon.
You can serve the arroz con leche hot or cold. (I prefer it cold.)
Sprinkle more cinnamon powder over the dish before serving. It is also delicious with vanilla ice cream on top and covered with chopped pistachio nuts.