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May 19, 2012 03:36 PM

Souvenirs from Spain and Sicily.. how to enjoy?


Just back from Barcelona, Girona, Favignana, and Ortigia and brought back lots of treasures, many based on chowhound threads and would love to know the best ways to enjoy them! The list:

Canned cockles, sardines, anchovy, and white asparagus
Hot, smoked, and sweet paprika - what to do with each??
Ventresca tuna
Tuna carpaccio ( dried tuna??)
Bomba rice - what are some of peoples fave paellas?

Name escapes me, but a sloe and anise liquer for any cocktail minded.

Would love to hear suggestions!

Thanks :)

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  1. Mmm while I wait, maybe I will just open one.. or two.

    1. Toss ventresca (tuna belly) with a pasta dressed with marinara sauce. Delicious.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ttoommyy

        Pasta Montalbano:

        One we learned in a slow cooking course in Ragusa: Easy, quick, good anytime.

        1. Chop or shred some of your tuna into a sauce of olive oil, green olives, minced garlic, dried sage, a little rosemary, small capers, pepper, dash of vinegar, a dash of wine, and a pinch or two of lemon or orange zest. Heat but not to boiling. You can mix or match the amounts to your taste.

        2. Linguine in salted, boiling water for 12 minutes. Drain and toss with your tuna sauce.

        Paella ?
        Chicken, Shrimp, or Mussel. A cooking lesson with a 5m pan for 240 people taught us two points: Make sure your rice cooks well in the stock, and use a round handled stainless skimmer to avoid blisters. But when it is finally cooked and served, the Sangria never tastes better.

      2. 2. Bottarga- the Italians grate over fresh pasta, the Taiwanese often put in hot pot.
        3. Pimenton does not matter heat wise as much as with most dried or ground red pepper. You use it for the smoked component. Great for gumbos, steamed crabs, caponata.
        5. Ventresca-Eat out of can with fingers, end of story
        8.Bomba rice-Chez L'Ami Jean in Paris has dreamy rice pudding. The chef, S Jego, uses Bomba rice exclusively. For paella, squid and squid ink.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

          To no. 5, I would say yes, that is the right idea, but have you ever had it alongside fresh beans (borlotti or cannellini) dressed with sliced sweet red onion, red white vinegar, best extra virgin olive oil, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper? Ventresca is too dellicate and precious for pasta sauce and should be eaten as is.
          No. 2 is right too except don't forget the extra virgin olive oil, lots.

          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            5. That's my favorite recipe!
            8. Rice pudding I would not have thought of, that sounds amazing.

          2. Bottarga: My favorite ingredient for my favorite pasta. Saute fresh or panko bread crumbs in butter. Chop a ton of fresh parsley. Grate an ounce or so of Bottaga for two people, then toss it all into 1/2 lb. pasta, and shave more bottarga on top. Recipes are on the internet.

            Ventresca on buttered, warn croustades, garnished with some capers and chopped shallots or red onion. If your anchovies are boquerones, same as above.

            Saffron in rouille, to garnish an already laced with saffron boulibaisse. Saffron in Moroccan lamb stew. Saffron in hummus.

            7 Replies
            1. re: pitterpatter

              What exactly does this bottarga taste like?? I'm thinking of getting some, and does it's taste justify it's expense? I've also heard it makes pasta 'creamy'.

              1. re: arktos

                If you don't like "fish that tastes fishy," you might not like bottarga, but I always think it tastes like the sea rather than like fish. However, it is a distinctly marine taste. I wouldn't say it makes the pasta creamy. It has a sort of waxy consistency when sliced thin, but it's usually grated on pasta. It is usual to combine it with olive oil rather than butter.

                1. re: arktos

                  Think of dryish shad roe with great texture, it is almost the consistency of soap/cheese and grates very well. Think of the taste of caviar or squid ink with very different texture, in fact almost unique texture.

                    1. re: pitterpatter

                      I knew THIS was going to happen. I've monitored the prices of bottarga for about two years now, and have noticed it skyrocketing in value dramatically now that the hipsters have discovered it. I think the New York Times started this, but I may be wrong. I was hoping it was going to be a passing fad.

                      1. re: arktos

                        The prices have always been high, but really, think about how much one actually uses in a recipe. I am certainly not a hipster, but it may cost $8 for dinner for two, because so little it used. It won't be a passing fad, as folks have been using it for hundreds of years. My bigger concern today is the loss of something like 250 million dollars worth of Reggiano Parmesano because of the earthquake in Italy. Tragic to all cheesemakers and farmers in the region. and expect the to skyrocket to, perhaps, $75 per pound in the near future. Get yours now! The price will go back down to a more reasonable but still expensive one in about two years.

                  1. re: pitterpatter

                    Mmm bouilibaisse and lamb stew sound fantastic! I've not made either before.

                  2. "You said saffron twice..."

                    "I like saffron."