Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Taste of Rome at Home

Trying new food is one of the main reasons I love traveling. Tasting the local dishes and sipping the favored cocktails create an instant bond between me and the local culture. That is if I enjoy the food, which I usually do. This summer in spirit of embracing my staycations and adding a little flavor to them, I have been trying to create meals and drinks from places I like to visit or re-visit in this case.

I recently came across a recipe from one of Rome’s excellent restaurants, Imàgo . Imàgo is a beautiful rooftop restaurant at Hotel Hassler in Rome. I visited Rome right after I graduated from college, so I didn’t stay at any five-star hotels. I did enjoy a lot of great food. I am sure I gained just 5lbs from eating all the prosciutto and mozzarella I could during my trip.

When I saw that Imàgo's Chef Francesco Apreda offered the recipe for his most popular dish, the Sake-glazed black cod with pappa al pomodoro, I knew I had to try it. The fact that it was released as a challenge for the new wave of of gourmet at-home, I-can-take-on-anything chefs just egged me on more. I have to admit that while I was excited to try it I also stared at the recipe for about a week daunted by the fact that I was going to prepare a recipe from a Michelin star restaurant when I didn’t know what red miso was. Luckily, the lady who helped me at Whole Foods did know what it was and so I had no other excuse for not cooking. I didn’t have most of the ingredients so I had to make the following shopping list to make the dish for 6 people:

1 leek stalk

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

5 medium sized tomatoes diced

salt & Pepper to taste

handful of basil

2 lbs of de-boned + scaled black cod

4 tablespoons red miso

3 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons sake

2 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar

2 tablespoons water (this should be easy to find)

Pappa al Pomodoro

You should first make the Pappa al Pomodoro, a traditional Tuscan bread and tomato salad. To get started, finely-cut the leek and cook, on low heat, with some olive oil for a few minutes. Add five medium-sized diced tomatoes as though preparing a simple tomato sauce, and add salt according to taste. Add a handful of finely-chopped basil and a half-loaf of hardened white bread (cut in slices one day before and let dry) and cook for another 20 minutes, or until mixture looks well-blended.

Black Cod

While that is cooking you can work on the black cod. Scale and de-bone 2 pounds of black cod. In a small bowl create the red miso sauce by adding 4 tablespoons red miso, 3 tablespoons sugar, 3 tablespoons sake, 2 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar and 2 tablespoons water. Sear the skin side of each cod fillet in a pan with olive oil and salt and then cover with the red miso sauce. Cook on medium heat reducing the sauce completely so that it becomes a dense glaze, at which point the cod will be cooked (about 15 minutes). During the process (and particularly towards the end), continuously glaze the cod fillets with the red miso sauce, using a spoon, coating the fish entirely in the sauce as it cooks.

Lay the cod fillets on top of the pappa al pomodoro. WVallah! You have created Imàgo's fine cuisine at home. I have to admit my dish tasted delicious. A lot better than I originally thought it would. Here are some more cooking pics.

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