Thursday, 14 May 2020
Sad bloke in the kitchen No: 4. Memories of scampi provencal.
When I was in my teens we would go often, as a family, to La Cantina di Capri; a restaurant in Oxford. Three memories of those visits remain: The wonderful Maitre D, Campari & soda and Scampi Provencal. This is my lockdown take on the latter.
Peel and dice finely one small onion. Chuck it in a shallow pan with some olive oil. Let it sweat at a low heat until softened and translucent, add a clove of garlic (bashed with a rock and finely chopped, garlic presses are a nightmare and take longer to clean than this takes to make) sweat it until you get an admission of guilt.
Open a bottle of white wine, no need to be up yourself: Wine, white, that'll do. Decide how much you want to drink then add the remaining half a glass to the pan. Crank up the heat and boil off the alcohol. (Top tip: put your face over the pan while doing this and you get a hit of evaporating 100% proof).
Turn heat down.
Peel a couple of ripe tomatoes. Easy to peel, just nick the skins with a sharp knife then drop into a bowl of boiling hot water for a minute. Remove from the water and they peel like a redhead's back in August. Remove the seeds and hard white bit in the middle and chop up. Add to pan. you might want a bit of sugar... Suit yourself.
Simmer for a moment, I like the freshness of almost uncooked tomatoes.
Season with salt and white pepper.
Add whatever seafood you have. Scampi is perfect, uncooked prawns are good, Lobster to die for and failing all of those Monkfish tail diced works brilliantly. Works with cod and sticklebacks too. All I could get hold of today was big prawns.
Cook until the fish is cooked, no longer, seriously, overcooking ruins it.
Turn the heat off and add some chopped fresh oregano. Thyme will do at a pinch if you don't have oregano. Let's not be pedantic' or Pedante as our Italian friends would say.
Serve with plain boiled rice and Zucchini fritti (which is actually a piece of piss to make perfectly if you take your time. I'll write about it another time).
Open another bottle of wine.
Eat and drink.
Feed the Lert.
NB. I do not have time for quantities or temperature or exact times. I rely on the fact that you possess an instinct for what is needed.