September 19, 2015

A pasta tribute to Trancoso's fishermen

Fishermen's Spaghetti is something we love to prepare because while its not a traditional recipe, it nonetheless pays homage to the culture and lifestyle of local fishermen. And everyone seems to love the dish, making it a cornerstone of our menu and a favorite among both visitors and Trancoso residents.

Fishermen of course fish, but they also often keep 'sitio', or small family farms, and because of the area's rich soil and sub-tropical climate these tend to be very productive. With the natural bounty from the sea and land the fishermen can indeed eat very very well.

This dish celebrates local seafood and produce, and to make it we suggest using very good quality wholegrain spaghetti, with fresh octopus and clams, and peppers and onions from organic farms. There's nothing fancy to this recipe, but do be sure to hunt down top ingredients because the wholesome flavors in each must be pretty pronounced to make the dish pop.

For a few the only challenge in the preparation using fresh octopus will be the cleaning. Fresh octupus is very common here along the coast in Southern Bahia, and even casual cooks are pretty familiar with preparing them to cook from scratch. But If you're inexperienced, of course its an option to buy octopus cleaned and ready to cook, they're commonly sold this way around the world.

But in the case you decide to go for fresh, whole octopus here's some advice:

The first and most important part of the octopus to clean is the head.

The local method for cleaning includes turning it inside out and just rinsing thoroughly while scooping out the innards. Then its cooked in boiling water for about 30 minutes, paying attention not to overcook and get an inconsistent flesh, or to cook it too little and end up tough and chewy.

For the tentacles, in our kitchen we use principally only the tips. But for convenience (and cost) at home you could opt to use the whole tentacle, just be sure to slice the thicker tentacle sections into smaller pieces.

We can't emphasize enough that without really good quality produce this dish isn't going to deliver, because the subtle, simple balance of taste from really flavorful vegetables is what creates the impact.

Cutting the vegetables in the right way is fundamental for making a beautiful dish, one thing that works really well is to cut the sweet peppers in julienne curls.

The cut vegetables should be seasoned in a bowl filled with olive oil and basil.

The cooking is the easiest part:

Put the octopus and the mussels in a pan on medium-low fire with olive oil and aromatic peppers .

Then add the olive oil seasoned vegetables.

Mix it together in the pen for about one minute, so the seafood will be savory with the seasoning of the vegetables and the spices.

Add the cooked spaghetti and mix it well with the seafood and the seasoned vegetables for about two minutes on low fire.

The result is a lovely balance of colors and flavors, and not only appetizing but also very healthy.


For the seasoning: