Caldo Gallego (Galician Stew)

Beans, Meat, Pork, Soups & Stews

Caldo Gallego 01

Caldo Gallego is a tradition. It was born in the rural, northwestern Spanish province of Galicia. Bringing together dried white beans, potatoes, fatty bits of cured pork, and hearty greens, it is a beautiful arrangement of the area’s harvest and the farmer’s prescient attitude of using as much as that harvest as possible.

Each autumn, I prepare Caldo Gallego and freeze it through the winter. While I have thawed and eaten it in the spring or summer, it is never as satisfying as eating it on a cold night next to a fire’s flame. It is heavy, warming and full of flavor.

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Salmonberry Gazpacho

Fruit, Salads, Soups & Stews, Vegetables

Salmonberry Gazpacho 01

Native people of the Pacific Northwest sometimes paired salmonberries with fish during feasts. That the fruit is even named “salmonberry” seems obvious when considering its homonym. Salmon berries, or salmon eggs, are not only similar in size, but in color and texture too.

This dish is my way of saying hello to the summer and good-bye to the spring. The last texture in this dish is the salmon egg, which reminds me of the birth of the berry this year. It lingers momentarily as the cool and tangy gazpacho provides one last taste of the Pacific Northwest’s first fruiting berry.

Lobster Bisque (Bisque de Homard)

Seafood, Soups & Stews

Traditionally a bisque is a thick and creamy soup with a base of mirepoix and shellfish served with the diced meat of the latter. Right now, our beloved New England lobsters are on sale at one of the markets I shop at: an astounding $7.99/lb.!

With the temperature dropping, becoming as cold as the sea nearby, and the climate drying up before the rains begin to pelt us, nothing sounds better than to cozy up in my warm apartment with a bowl of steaming lobster bisque.

I cannot emphasize how incredible this soup is. It is the perfect balance of flavors–a touch of sweetness, a well-mannered but full-bodied saltiness with a succulent savory finish–the prize being the true essence of lobster that lingers in the mouth well after the last bite.

Galician Octopus Broth (Caldo de Polbo)

Seafood, Soups & Stews

This dish, like so many of my dishes, is inspired by the verdant and bewitched land of Galicia, the northwest province of Spain. The streets of coastal Galicia, from cities, like A Coruña and Santiago de Compostela, to small towns, like Ribadeo, are filled with pulperías, or octopus restaurants. These cephalopods are caught in the rías, the canals that flow through the land into the Cantabrian Sea and Atlantic Ocean.

Here in Seattle, octopus isn’t as popular. Even though our own ocean-connected water, the Puget Sound, harbors some of the largest octopuses in the world, they are only really served at the Asian restaurants and, occasionally, at more mainstream restaurants like Coastal Kitchen or Golden Beetle. Commercial octopuses here come from Japan, the Philippines or China. Only by accident do fishmongers have Puget Sound octopus. Because they are a protected species, they can only legally be sold if caught by accident; that is, if they get mixed up with other fish being caught. But that is so rare.

Liver & Lima Bean Stew

Beans, Meat, Soups & Stews

I made this from the leftover sheep’s liver I prepared a few days ago. This is a stew with a passionate heart. The flavors in here are strong: sour red wine, savory liver, pungent-sweet epazote, sweet cinnamon and clove, smokey Spanish paprika. Uninhibited too are the textures: thick, buttery lima beans; large, crunchy croutons; tender chunks of liver; melty, tender sliced vegetables.