Sun, sea and sand are excellent reasons why Europeans, and those from other parts of Spain, head to the Alicante region beginning in April. Based at southerly 100 miles from Valencia, Alicante is not only a thriving port city of palm-lined and mosaic avenues but miles of pristine waterfront pueblos filled with charm, history and seafood on the menu.
The area possesses approximately 3000 years of history from Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, and the Iberians to the Moors. All civilisations which populated the area not only added to Alicante's culture and architecture, but they also intensified the cuisine.
In the spring, when the almond blossoms begin to descend, it is a signal in Alicante that the meals change and the heavy stews and meats are left behind. A lighter fare is in order as the sun glistens and the temperatures rise along the waterfront.
Recipes tend to be easier to prepare after their winter counterparts but are just as delicious. A staple in any Spanish household is alioli, which is usually used as a spread, in place of butter, to bread. Alioli simply is garlic oil and is variously called ajiaceite, ajoaceite and all-i-oli depending on who you speak with. Alioli is not just for bread anymore.
This garlic sauce adds a robust flavour to any entrée. An excellent example with the use of alioli is to create a simple and easily prepared meal of Pez Espada a la Alacant – Swordfish Alicante Style serving 4. Pez Espada a la Alicant
2 cups of alioli
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 (6-oz.) swordfish steaks, 1/2-inch thick
1 lemon, sliced
1 large green pepper chopped finely
1 large onion chopped finely
6 to 7 cherry tomatoes
1 cup fresh parsley leaves
Hint: Other thick fish steaks, such as halibut, salmon or tuna can be substituted for the swordfish. Other garnishes can be used, such as olives, asparagus or spinach.
1. In a saucepan, heat up the oil and sauté the chopped onions, cherry tomatoes and green pepper until soften. Set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place swordfish steaks in well-oiled baking dish filled with peppercorns.
3. Spread the alioli mixture over the top of each steak and cover the dish with glass top or foil. Place in the oven for 20 minutes.
4. Baste each steak with more alioli and bake for an additional 5 minutes uncovered to form a brown crust.
5. Sprinkle with parsley.
6. Garnish with sauté green peppers, tomatoes and onions serve.
7. Add the balance of alioli as a side dipping sauce.
6 cloves garlic
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon of vinegar
7 to 10 drops of extra virgin olive oil (the lighter the better)
a pinch of salt
1 / 2 fresh lemon
1. Crush the garlic in a mortar
2. Add the yolks and salt to the garlic paste and mix until frothy
3. Pour the oil in drop by drop while still mixing
4. Add a few drops of liquid from the lemon and add the vinegar
Hint: You can prepare the sauce with the same directions in a food processor