Horse mackerel with tapioca, garlic flowers and liquefied watermelon and tomato

Chef: Isaac Salaberria
Country: Spain
City: 20120 Hernani (Guipúzcoa)
Address: Ctra. de Goizueta
(+34) 943550031

One of those brilliant dishes that has succeeded in dazzling even the most atavistic of diners—those that question anything that is not the habitual recipe—char-grilled or with refrito (olive oil and sautéed garlic, typically Basque). It dazzles, and this is no small feat for various reasons. First, because the fish gives the sensation of being semi-raw due to its cooking at low temperature—a technique of which Isaac Salaberria is a master. Specifically, the filet is submerged in olive oil, where it remains at 40º C for 5 minutes, after which it is removed from heat and left in the oil for 1 hour. The result is an homage to nature, as much in flavor as texture, in which the technique makes a delicacy out of something that until now has not been. We have never seen such a bold and precise treatment of this fish.

The talent is evident in two other elements: the garnish and the sauce, which, as with the pancetta, is offered on the side in a cup and must be taken in small sips with the horse mackerel. A daring sauce that provides an electrifying and delicious contrast to the primary ingredient—it consists of liquefied watermelon, to which two pieces of tomato concassé and a few magical drops of balsamic vinegar are added. It has great substance and stands out radically against the fish to provide a fruity, refreshing and capricious element. The garnish, tapioca cooked in chicken stock and then impregnated with garlic oil, garlic flowers and spring onion, is a more traditional touch: though in altered form, it maintains an aspect of historical memory, a touch characteristic of this gifted chef.

The Recipe